Composition - The Road of Trials - jwardenphotography

A simple photograph of my old rubber boots, which I've worn during most of my vision quest. Simple, yet, there is a lot going on in that image. First, there’s composition, an L-shaped compositional format, then there’s light and dark, color and reflection. All of these are elements of composition and design and while they are very important to understand in creating art, they are also important tools in learning how to observe. In fact, they are the grammar and the language of our vision quest.

There is no need for a particular order in how we observe the individual elements of composition and not all of the elements will be in everything that we see. But, knowing how we respond to the fundamentals of composition can help us to have a deeper appreciation of what we see and a greater understanding of why we find one particular view attractive and another less so.

The elements of composition and design are what we look for when practicing the long slow look. Learning, understanding and appreciating the basics of what to look for, is the hard work of the vision quest. Its parallel in Campbell’s heroic quest is the road of trials, the stage which is meant to test the mettle of the participants. Each test determines whether or not the hero is worthy of learning the ultimate secret, of achieving the ultimate prize.

Somehow it’s fitting to be wearing rubber boots during the road of trials because, as my wife says, “you know it’s going to be a good day, when you get to wear rubber boots.” So, let us be off on our quest. Let us be initiated into the world of color, light and line, of patterns, shape, form and texture. Let us learn the language of our vision quest.

Click on the galleries below to the explore different elements in learning how to see.

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