Friday, March 9, 2012


I changed my snow tires out to dare them to snow.  They did, et voilà!  Another colour training day, and at 11℃ and full sun to boot.

All Around Us

What to paint?  What do you like?  What concept, how to treat it?  Why are you attracted to it? How to arrange it?  What to leave out?  Where to move it?  What else is needed?

Interesting Pattern

That would be a backlit situation painting into the sun and cast shadows.  Not the more common light and shadow situation with modelling.  The sun will move quickly.  What else?

Robert Genn posted six common compositional pitfalls.  More to remember.

Weak foreground. The foreground appears as an afterthought. Wishy-washy, unresolved or inconsequential--it fails to set the subject onto a reasonable ground or to lead the eye to what the artist would have us see.

Homeostatic conditions. Homeostasis means equidistant lineups of trees, rocks, blocks of colour, or other patterns that are too mechanical or regular. "Even in front of nature one must compose," said Edgar Degas.

Amorphous design. The general design lacks conviction. A woolly, lopsided or wandering pattern makes for a weak one. Often, the work has unresolved areas and lacks cohesiveness and unity. 

Lack of flow. Rather than circulating the eye from one delight to another, the work blocks, peters out and invites you to look somewhere else. "Composition," said Robert Henri, "is controlling the eye of the observer." Effective compositions often contain planned activation (spots like stepping stones that take you around), and serpentinity (curves that beguile and take you in.)

Too much going on. Overly busy works tire the eye, induce boredom and make it difficult to find a centre of interest or focus. Less is often more.

Defeated by size. Effective small paintings often work well because they are simple and limited in scope. But when artists make larger paintings they often lose control of the basic idea and what is ironically called "the big picture." "The larger the area to be painted," says Alfred Muma, "the harder it is to have a good composition." 

So leave that and that out.  It is a backlit condition.  Lots of bright spots.  Lead them in.  Make the hill a gradation in partial shadow with the flats on top and bottom lighter and brighter - just like in Carlson's book.  We talked about that in the car using the dashboard as an example of planes at different angles.

Composition Day - In Process

Now to fit the weeds and brush into the rest.  First, a visitor.....

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