Sunday, May 22, 2016

Adding Elements That Weren't There

This painting was done from a photograph that I took way back in 1973 on a trip to the Spanish island of  Ibiza in the Mediterranean.  The little girl, the old well, the trees and the wall were all in the photo.  The wall was barely visible, but I decided that I needed it to provide a much need horizontal.  To make it more prominent, I added some mountains in the background for a value contrast.

Then the problem was that there was nothing going on to break up the white space and the straight line of the wall which was pointing out of the painting.  So I decided to add a clothesline.  I also added a woman hanging the clothes.  I still needed a bit more action, so I threw in a couple of goats and two chickens. 

Notice, too, that the cast shadows are less and less textured as you move away from the center of interest, allowing the figure to remain the center of interest.

Use a little imagination and add components that enhance the composition and the story element to your painting.

Don't give up on me for the next week or so.  I'm hitting the road to return to my beloved Maine for the summer.  I'll be stopping in New Hampshire and northwestern Maine and may be able to squeeze in a few paintings on the way.  (I always put my easel on top of the suitcases for easy access in case I'm tempted by a scene!)  If I do, I'll post them.   See you in Maine!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Painting a Memory

                                Friends' Rock at Oven's Mouth

My friend Flora's birthday was May 11th.  She's been gone ten years now, but I still think of her often.  We would sometimes hike a root-infested trail out to a rock at the end of Oven's Mouth Preserve in Boothbay, Maine, where we would enjoy a thermos of coffee and donuts.  I cherish those conversations and time together with a cherished friend.  So, on her birthday, to honor her memory, I painted the two of us sitting on that rock.  R.I.P., Flora.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Power of Shapes

                                    Kaaterskill Falls

In this painting of Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskills, it was important to design the shape of the waterfall carefully while staying true to the actual scene.  So I designed the shape of the falls first.  I needed to be mindful of keeping that shape clear. The way to do that, I decided, was to eliminate many of the "stripes"  indicating the rocks underneath the falling water.  This was especially important in the larger fall on the left.  Leaving the white untouched maintained the integrity of the shape.  Suggesting the hidden rocks there would have broken up the shape. 

Another decision was important to the composition.  I included the tree trunks in the left foreground to keep the viewer from wandering off the page.  I kept the background simple.  On the right, I broke up the tree shape with a lighter shape within it.  The temptation might have been to indicate more tree trunks there.  But the light shape already did its job by pointing back to the falls, and without the details of more trunks, the shape was kept in the background.  

Restricting the details within a shape keeps the design in tact.  Remember to keep focusing on the shapes and to limit the details to only those that come in aid of the overall composition.