Well, jumping right into this process, I have decided that I am going to start off with a 20th century artist named Edward Hopper. I believe the name is "House by the Railroad." I have always liked this painting and it seemed familiar to me for some reason. After some research, I found the this painting was used as the model for the Normal Bates house in the original Psycho movies. The deep dark shadows definitely provide the viewer with a sense of foreboding and eerieness. Moving on to some compostional analysis, this piece has a definite differentiation of the planes, those being the foreground plane containing the railroad tracks, the midground plane containing the house and background which is purely sky in this case. The fact that there are no other shapes, building, trees or other objects in the background sets the house in the midground to be all be itself. This adds to eerieness and uncomfortable feel of this image. The other mechanism that adds to this feeling are the train tracks themselves which act as a barrier between the viewer and the house, helping keep us at a distance. The tracks are painted in a warmer burnt sienna/burnt umberish color, which is the warmest part of the painting. The colors become cooler and more muted as the image recedes into the background. However, Hopper has added to touches of a similar hue to the chimney stacks on top of the house so that the viewers gaze can be drawn from the tracks towards the associated warm color and inevitably crossing the house. I am also seeing a number of verticals in this piece that give stability to a painting, however, strategically places diagonals from shadows and architectural elements add drama to the overall stability. I am seeing Hopper's use of weight in the painting in which it is very heavy on the bottom of the painting due the large dark area, but is balanced by the dark roof elements located on the top of the painting. One last thing I have noticed is a small detail. I am looking at the windows on the illuminated side and notice that there are three drawn shades, yet one raised shade. Again, adding to this uncomfortable feeling, the closed shades say "keep out", yet there is one shade, closet to the viewer that is raised, leaving a psychological opening for the viewer.
I think that I have learned from this painting, that simple compositional elements when effectively used can truly evoke specific feelings, especially when executed properly.