Thursday, 17 March 2011

Composition - What have you achieved?

Composition is one area I have up to now neglected a bit, both because there seems to be more rules, and contradicting ones at that, than you can possibly remember. Also I never could agree with the whole idea of leading the eye through the painting. First time I heard that idea I thought there must be something wrong with me because my eyes always dart all over the place trying to take it all in at once and searching for meaning. Only after I get the main overview will I stop and more lazily meander through the panting.
I find James Gurney's research on the subject very interesting and felt it rang more true.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

That is not to say that the rules have no validity. I am beginning to understand the feeling of balance in a painting and how the dynamic of the composition can help emphasize the dynamics of what you want to say. For instance in my Night Fears painting below, the normal associations with snoozinyess and calm of bedtime is counteracted by the strong diagonals in the composition and the tension neatly reflects the boys feelings in the moment.

At this stage I am definitely more comfortable with the more planned painting, though the spontaneous approach can be more fun and add more life to the finished painting.
The underlying geometry of the planned painting plays a more prominent role. Feels maybe a bit to obvious to me, but maybe that's just because I did the planning.

I have made the shift from only observational work to using my imagination more and it suits me really well. There is something special about seeing an idea materialise on the paper.
I also love the oil. While it slows the painting downs, I find it suits me better to be able to blend to a higher degree. I could do without the smells though. I am using water-soluble oils and they actually work much better than I thought they would.

Unplanned painting - multiple vertical lines through composition

This one was far harder for me. While it is good fun to just start and see where it takes you, I have a tendency to let loose to completely and stop caring about colour scheme and compositions and just enjoy the feel of the paint  on the canvas.
Maybe for experienced painters where the "rules" have become part of the back bone this work. For me is was a gigantic mess, and I have discarded the first couple of attempts for now - which is why I am now running late yet again with the assignment. (sorry)

I started again fresh, being more careful to hold the general vision in my head and that seemed to work better.
Tree Tops
I don't think it's quite done, but in the interest of getting this assignment out the door and knowing that the composition is not going to change, I'll submit this version.
I managed this time to restrain my colours and I like the result.

Planned painting done

"Goodnight then. I 'm sure the new night light will keep the monsters away"

So, there it is. I am very pleased with this one actually. I feel this picture has a strong storytelling element, which is the reason I paint and draw in the first place. I am happy with the composition too. I had more toys in mind and you can see a faint book case in the left top corner, but I think a less cluttered look works nicely too. Halfway through the boy looked like a very old man, but happily he got his rosy cheeks back.

Oh, this one is the challenge: "Something large and long running into the painting so that a strong directional force is given to the composition."

Saturday, 12 March 2011

New easel!

The field easel has been confined to... the field. 
No more wobbly parts. Best birthday pressie :o)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Value and Colour

Focus now, trying to keep composition, value and colour in the head at once. :o)

I want the whites of the boy's eyes to be the brightest part - the light from the door and window a close second. The monster and the corners need to be the darkest. That makes the biggest contrast happen around the boy which should help bring the focus back on the boy even though what people probably will see first is the monster.

Again to help out with the focus, the boy will have more detail in his colour while the whole room only shares a few. Hopefully that also makes him more real than the scene behind him.

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Poster Study

I've just been doing my tonal study and my colour study for the first composition painting, and while I am extremely clear on what the tonal study does for me; I've been struggling to find use in the colour study.
I think it is because when I start to apply paints in earnest it already feels like a painting -especially when the course asks for the study to be in A2 size! So I am torn at that point. If I'm already doing a huge painting, why not already try to make it the painting I want?
I know the aim is to get an idea of the colour scheme and whether my choice works, but how much detail does it need to give me a sound idea?

I found Anthony J Ryder's site. He does careful studies too and has a great approach to it. He calls them Poster Studies, and he uses them not only to get the colours right, but the values and the composition. And he keeps them small which eliminates superfluous detail and makes it easier to focus on the overall effect. I don't think it's much different from what the course instructor meant for us to do, but I find it much easier to understand the way Mr. Ryder explains it. 
Here are two examples from his websites:

Anthony J. Ryder

Anthony J. Ryder

I shall try to use this approach next time I need to make a colour study.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Composition Thumbnails

Exploring subjects for the spec:
Something large and long (a wall, a rug, a corridor, a road or a pavement) running into the painting so that a strong directional force is given to the composition.

In this assignment the author specifically throws the subject open for me to decide, so I intend to take full advantage and work from imagination rather than observe another interior.

I think a few of them show nice potential, but the one that grabbed me was the scared boy as the dynamic lines of the composition really dominate and help tell the story rather than being incidental to the scene.