The Alphabet of Art
The Picture Plane
The picture plane is the most effective way of measuring the last of the three Attributes, the Spatial Attribute.
When the picture plane of a painting is generally the way we see it in nature, we call it realistic or in-depth. Correct perspective is employed to accomplish this, through the Elements of Line and Shape. In the in-depth picture plane, the foreground is at the bottom and is seen as close at hand. The middleground includes the horizon and is in the middle of the picture. The background goes to infinity and is shown at the top of the picture:
But if we want to make the painting or photograph decorative, the principle of Minimum Contrast says we have to try to put the three grounds on one plane. In the decorative picture plane, the background and middleground are forced to the front, and the foreground is also forced forward. This is accomplished using various Elements and by warping perspective.
To avoid the monotony of extreme minimum contrast, one of the three divisions of the picture plane is frequently enlarged. Dolph Smith, a painter from Memphis Tennessee, enlarged the background to great effect, giving the feeling of the solitude of the great outdoors.
Any of the Elements can be employed to create a picture all on one picture plane, making it esthetically more decorative and spatially more static.
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