Aurora - A Horizon Line Novel (Back & Front Cover Spread) (copyright 2009 Patrick Lemieux)

I’ll be honest. I’m posting this piece partly out of pride, partly out of a desire to show off and partly because I want to demonstrate something. We’ll get to that in a moment, but first let’s back track. I wrote a book a number of years ago and like many hopeful novelists, I’ve been tinkering with the book for a while. Someday, I’ll call it done and send it out to publishers. I’ll keep you posted on that. However, if you didn’t glean from the caption, I’m also doing some illustrations and the cover art for the book. What you’re seeing there is the back (left) and front (right) cover. It would wrap around the at the left side of the tree. The back cover has space for the blurb and the upper portion of the front has room for the title and my name.

I learned quickly how to compose front and back covers when I wrote and drew a small-press comic back in university. In those days, I drew the image by hand.

Here’s an example:

Horizon Line - Issue 2, Volume 2 (copyright 2011 Patrick Lemieux)

Horizon Line - Issue 3, Volume 2 (copyright 2011 Patrick Lemieux)

Notice the same composition layout? Yeah, I thought so! It’s not rocket science. What I tried to do with the comic covers was to tie in, visually, the front and back. Here and in the painting up above, you can see I used a tree to mark the divide, between the two sides. When it came time to do the painting for the novel’s cover, I simply applied the same old technique.

Or did I?

Go back and look again.

Forgive me for sounding Socratic, I’m probably channeling my former art teacher. She taught me pretty much everything I know about art, art history and the critical thinking involved in both. Under her direction, I learned how to really look and to draw what I see. This was the foundation on which I built my professional skills. Before that, it was all free hand and whatever lazy techniques I developed on my own. It was like what Yoda says, “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

By my OAC year, my art classes got into much more complex ideas about composition. The masters developed and discovered things still employed today. And not just in Fine Art. Still photography and motion pictures adopted and refined in their own way much of the visual language earlier explored by painters, illustrators and sculptors.

And mathematicians.

Take a rectangle with the dimensions 1 x 1.618.

Now, remove a 1 x 1 square. The portion left should be rectangle of 1 x 1.618, the same dimensions of the original rectangle. You can, in theory, continue removing 1 x 1 squares and reducing the remaining rectangle into infinity. If there’s anything mathematicians like it’s numeric values that have no end. I’d say they’re strange that way, but no, they’re not alone in their love of geometric elegance as patterns of numbers cascade across a medium forever.

Here’s one more exercise with that rectangle: As you reduce the rectangle, look at the 1 x 1 square. Pretend the innermost corner in the center of a circle, with a diameter of 1. Draw the curve of the circle through the 1 x 1 square and you’ll get 1/4 of the circle’s diameter. As you reduce the rectangle, keep drawing that 1/4 diameter through the 1×1 square, each time beginning the line where the last curved line left off.

You should end up with something like this:

It’s called the Golden Spiral, both a geometric exercise and artistic composition technique used by the masters.

I’m not a master, but I could not help but include it in the cover of my book, if it ever gets published.

Forgive the crude line drawing, I did it with Microsoft Paint, which came with the computer.

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