I sent this image to a grad student not too long ago, and happened upon it again today. I started playing around with a study and before long my brain was doing somersaults, it is so much fun! The painting is sort of overloaded with detail and at first you might think it’s a really “tight” painting. But it’s not. Nor is anything superfluous or unconnected to the rhythm of the whole. Most of the big landscapes were studio paintings but this painting was executed partially on site, here is a link to an interesting article about it on the Tate website.( http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/constable-flatford-mill-scene-on-a-navigable-river-n01273/text-summary).
Here’s the first round of my study. The guy with the pole in the water guiding the boat way to the left side is really interesting and it’s surprising to find such an important compositional element way off to the left. It makes the balance really dynamic. I have four main diagonals located so far and am using them to see how the lower left is built.
I hope you can see how much the angles created by the boaters pole and the simple sticks and ropes on the ground create a world of geometry and space. The Tate article suggested that the figures, sticks and ground plane details were added in the studio. I think it is fascinating how invention and response to nature are woven together. (By the way to say that the structure is accidental or somehow not really there and that artists don’t think and plan, that they are just some kind of empty vessel and receivers of “inspiration” is just bizarre to me, but I hear it a lot and it’s a popular attitude.)
Anyway…..here is another study with some added repetitions of the four diagonals plus a series of vertical rhythms.
Next I just started to follow the rhythms in blue. I tried not to make objects, but just follow the curves and corners they turned around.
Here s how the drawing looks without the painting under it, its just the lower left bottom but I think you can see the crazy flipping structure even better.