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    Art Review: Forgotten Fence by Carolyn Rosenberger Essay

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    A formal analysis of Carolyn Rosenberger’s work “Forgotten Fence,” exhibited in the 69th annual juried art show at the Neville Public Museum. “Forgotten Fence” is a watercolor painting on rice paper covered clay board. The piece is conceptually pieced together depicting eerie like trees and a rickety old fence on a hill using a washed out mute color scheme. Rosenberger’s composition is strategically pieced together using the formal elements line, color, shape, space, and texture to give her work an overall gentle but cold feeling.

    To start off lines plays a subtle role in the composition and are rather faint to the viewer, giving the painting its initial washed out feeling as if you were in a haze looking upon the scenery. Lines within the composition can be found forming the horizon line and the boundaries of the trees and fence. The lines throughout the composition are mainly soft, shallow curvilinear, which defines what we first see as a landscape in a natural setting. As well, such use of lines draw our eyes towards the mid-section of the image, where the line use implies continuation of the landscape beyond the picture plane.

    However, line in this piece does not necessarily play an important nor a dominate role in the overall feeling of the composition. Color is another formal element used within Rosenberger’s painting. The colors are mainly washed out and muted. However, the way she uses the color scheme strongly defines space and unity within the composition. From her dark browns and oranges to her faint blues and yellows, Rosenberg successfully created a mood for the painting. For instance, the dark values ranges in the piece create a sense of mystery and help bring out the feeling with in the setting as being a forgotten place.

    However, the way she uses the lighter values brings out the intensity of the painting itself, which gives the composition a gentle and welcoming feel despite its ominous appearance. Shape is used to create the main setting of this painting, giving it its landscape quality. The shape ranges within the composition range from organic and three dimensional to flat and space defining. The organic and asymmetrical forms reside mainly at the top of the composition which draws our eyes towards the fence, while the remainder of the image is filled with textural and space defining qualities.

    However shape is not a defining or dominant element of the image itself. Rosenberger’s piece is particularly interesting through her use of both positive and negative space as well as three-dimensional space. The use of both has a great impact of the overall quality of the work. The positive and negative space used makes the work engaging to the viewer and ethically pleasing to the eye. It also creates interest in regards to the concepts portrayed such as the “forgotten fence” painted strategically with in the positive space of the composition.

    The positive and negative space are also particularly interesting in this piece because the positive space depicted is mainly within the dark value ranges while the negative space is within the light value ranges. Such used of space gives the painting a feeling of isolation. However, three-dimensional space is only suggested within the image through Rosenberger’s use of proportional qualities, such as the trees the horizon, and fence. It also creates a sense of unity and connection of all elements used. Now the rice paper overlaid on a clay board plays a big role in the formation of texture with in this piece.

    Texture is one of the main elements that gives this composition its interest. The use of rice paper gives the viewer a visual sense of how the scene might physically feel if touched in real life. Also, the use of rice paper as a textural quality brings unity throughout the image, with its natural texture complimenting the painted texture of the tree branches. Rosenberger is also able to portray further texture through her use of color, line, and shading, giving the grass a thick and deep feeling. Her thick and gestural strokes further enhance the qualities of texture within the composition adding and sense of energy with in.

    Texture along with value and line is what makes this scene so intriguing, and inviting but yet desolate at the same time. Rosenberger strategically organized her use of the formal elements in such a manner, giving more importance to one than another, that the composition itself is unique and stands out amongst other similar works. She not only limited her pallet but used the natural qualities of her media to direct the feeling of the painting, giving into the concept of the forgotten fence. However, her is far from forgettable it is both engaging and mysterious at the same time.

    The viewer looks upon the work with wonders of where this is, when it is, and why is such a place so forgotten. Its peaceful, the values bring out a calm feeling, as if you could see yourself -sitting up on the hill reading a book on a crisp autumn morning. Also, her texture not only give you the physical feeling of being there, but even enhances a familiar sent of being in the leaves, and breathing chilled air. But all together, the formal elements line, color, shape, space, and texture are what gives her work its overall importance that makes the composition ecstatically pleasing.

    Rosenberger’s “Forgotten Fence” interested me due to its small scale and use of mix media. The rice paper is what I found to be the most interesting. I liked how it gave the composition a thick and chunked up appearance, which enhanced the feelings I got from the set scenery of the image. It engaged me and made me think of a place I had once been before, a place that I had forgotten. The image is simple, it’s just a fence on a hill, nothing special, but a kind of place that just about everyone has experienced before, but maybe never paid much mind too.

    The piece is relatable, which allowed me to draw on each one of my senses to feel the painting both visually and physically through my eyes. I could even catch a scent in the air of what it would be like there, crisp cold air, the scent of the fall foliage and the first season’s snow. On top of the work being a forgotten relation to the viewer, I found it to be ecstatically pleasing though her use of scale, value, and shape arrangement. Even surrounded by many larger scale works I was still drawn to this piece first from a distance.

    Her organization of shapes brought my eyes to the painting, but her used of texture is what drew me in, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at so I had to get a closer look. Then as soon as I stepped in front of it all the memories of being a kid running around out at my uncles farm, chasing kittens, and thinking I’d get lost in his woods came back to me. A simple painting alone gave me all that, which is why I choose Rosenberger’s “Forgotten Fence,” it was the only piece that brought back a flood of memories for me.

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    Art Review: Forgotten Fence by Carolyn Rosenberger Essay. (2018, Jul 15). Retrieved from

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