Sunday, October 15, 2017

Composition Part 2: Hierarchies!

Amazing stories have a purpose. There is a reason for telling them. Someone shouldn't describe to their doctor why the Xbox One X is a vastly superior to the Nintendo Switch after she asks how you broke your arm. What would be the purpose of that? You want people to care about what you have to say. You want your audience to appreciate the story you have to tell be it spoken or visual.

A key part of telling a great story is picking what is important. You need to select a hierarchy. A hierarchy is an order of what you want to focus on and what your audience should pay attention to. In order to tell a great visual story you need to prioritize the key details or else your image becomes a confusing mess.

Hierarchies help your audience understand what you are trying to say. If you clearly establish a hierarchy then your audience can focus. So a prioritized order of ideas can make even complex ideas simple to understand.

The cool thing about being an artists is the power we can have to captivate our audience. We can even use certain techniques to make them look where we want! How cool is that? The average person looks at an image for less than 4 seconds and determines if they like it or not. Anytime you have a person looking  beyond that you are winning as a communicator and artist.

There are several tricks that we use to help us prioritize. The journalistic questions are questions we ask everyday to understand what is going on. For example, when Sally broke up Stephen we want to know: who they are, what was the reason they broke up, where were they when they broke up, when did they break up, why did they break up now, and how did it all go down? Every news story establishes the answers to these questions very quickly so the audience will understand what is going on. This is called creating context.

Establishing context makes your audience care. It's why your pet "Fluffy" is more than just a dog to you. You have a history or a connection to Fluffy. The answers to the journalistic questions give us a connections to explaining why you are connected to Fluffy. Your audience needs connections so they will care about it. 

Ok so we know we need to answer the journalistic questions in order to create context. Part of determining the answers to the:  who, what, when, where, why, and how is establishing the actor or actors, stage, and action. What this does is simplify how to be establish context very quickly. 

The actor in the above Howard Pyle's painting Marooned is a pirate. The stage is an abandoned beach, and the action is being marooned. The pirate is who is in the picture. What is happening is our pirate friend is being marooned, and when is during dusk. The where appears to be a beach. The body language of the pirate gives a clue to the why the pirate was left there, and the how is the revealed by there not being a pirate ship there anymore. 

We clearly know what is going on because these questions are answered. Therefore, we have the context to understand what is going on the picture. It effectively communicates. Since art is communication, this is good art.