Thursday, 31 May 2012


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This is a painting done by William Harnett. The name of this portrait is called “A Smoke Backstage.” This is an trompe l’oeil painting. The painting is made to look real. It’s french for “fool the eye.” Paintings like this impress me because they look real. It’s dimensions are 78.5. Some of the elements I’ll be talking about are line, shape, texture, color, emphasis, and movement. These aspects are covered in chapter four and five.

The first element of art I will be telling about is line. In this painting, line is being used in a variety of ways. The line of the table, is setting the boundary for this picture. The package and newspaper help define the three-dimensional view. The part that you inhale through the pipe helps set the line and completes the pipe and definition.

Shape is also a very important element used in this painting. By looking at the painting, I could see the shape at the base of the pipe. From the colors and textures apart from the base of the table. The pipe has more of a geometric shape. The tobacco package in the middle of the table is using up mass in the painting.

I think there is a variety of texture being used. First, the actual textures in the painting is the table, newspaper, and the long end of the pipe. There smooth and we could feel them by touching. The simulated textures in the painting would be the opened end of the tobacco package, the tobacco at the end of the pipe, and the pipe in general. It looks real, but if we would touch it, it would feel like smooth paint.


By looking at this picture, I found that it had a lot of linear perspective and atmospherical perspective. This painting has a foreground, middle ground, and a background. The newspaper appears closer in the foreground and they tend to decrease in size and vanish off into the background. There is a lot of wide variety of color and detail in the foreground of this painting which is also known as atmospherical perspective. Because the changing of color, value, and detail gives it an illusion of depth.

By observing and studying this picture, I also found that a variety of colors are being used throughout the painting. Color is mostly being used in the middle of the painting. The colors are light blue, cream, yellow, brown, and dark brown. The light blue is a nice contrast compared to all the dark colors.

There is also a lot of emphasis and subordination that is being used throughout this painting. The figure that drew my attention to this picture was the pipe leaning up against the tobacco box. This is a form called focal point. I think the newspaper was a subordination. It helped create a neutral area of lesser interest that kept me from being distracted from areas of less emphasis.

Movement is also another key aspect in this painting. Movement is occurring from the bottom of the painting to the top. The pipe extending from the bottom left to all the way back to the top right. Directional force is causing me to look from the bottom of the picture to the top.

By looking at this painting, I have come to the conclusion that this is a form of representational art. Most of William Harnett’s paintings are personally expressive. I don’t know what the meaning of this painting means, but I’m guessing it’s representing a place to relax.

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