I pulled this file out to share with my oil painting students for sketching figures on the spot, to demonstrate finding the simple shapes, colors and lights and darks on the form while painting en plein air. I posted some figure sketching notes on working at the shore here.
Last week in class I fond myself explaining why I would move an object up and to the left and light it on the right. Also a student asked why I made the choice to soften the contrast with some stripes rather than enhance the contrast.
These discussions brought to mind to books that explore the effects of different formal choices in picture making: Molly Bang, Picture this, Rudolph Arnheim, Art and Visual Perception.
I met Art and Visual Perception in grad school, and was delighted and relived to find clear explanations of why pictures look the way they do and read, clearly catalogued, the many ways of "solving" the "problem" of two demential visual representation.
Molly Bang's Picture This effectively illustrates the effects of various compositional choices.
I am currently reading (it would be more accurate to say occasionally gnawing on) The Master and the Emmissary by Iain Mcgilchrist. I find the way that he writes about perception to be very helpful. Here's his RSA ted talk.