Monday, April 13, 2015

Steve Bass: Drawing the Elements of Architecture

The elements of architecture are the kit of parts out of which classical buildings are composed. The elements, such as capitals and bases, are built up of 'shapes', and are combined to form 'orders'. The elements and orders are described in a series of reference books. Traditionally there are five such orders, distinguished mainly by their capitals. In the classical system every part has a name and we will use this vocabulary. 

The Five Orders
Vocabulary of the Elements

The elements have significant anthropomorphic aspects. Anyone interested in rendering the human figure will be right at home drawing the elements as they have many human body analogies. Beyond that the orders have myths of origin associated with them which link them to the human being and the human form.

Origin of the Corinthian Order
The elements provide a background for classical painting. They are used to create the space in which the story, the 'historia' takes place. The manner of selection and rendering of the elements also set the mood for the story.

The Story of Antiochus and Stratonike by David, left, and Ingres, right. David's image is Roman, sober and monochrome, while Ingres is Greek and erotically polychrome. Both use the Ionic order.

To understand classical composition, one must get to know the elements through drawing them according to the descriptions in the references. In the upcoming studio course we will do just that. By the end of the course you'll be knowledgeable of the ideal or 'ground state' of the elements and prepared to begin their use in composition.
Architect Marty Brandwein drawing the Doric column
Join Steve Bass, on five Saturdays, starting April 18th to explore the Five Orders of Classical Architecture . To read more and sign up, visit here

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