Monday, July 10, 2006

Cropping - Composing backwards!

Okay, back to some artwork!

Composition is an area where I think many self-taught artists suffer. There are "rules" taught in art school that we miss out on. That said, I was told many years ago I have a good sense of composition. That doesn't excuse me from self-study, of course! Sometimes the viewer might not know exactly what attracts them to a particular painting, and it is likely the composition.

There is a lot of planning that goes into a painting before pencil or paint hits the ground. Those of us who take our own photos do a lot of composition through the lens, so this is often the first step. We know what we're looking for when we put the viewfinder up to our eye. Not being a professional photographer as such, sometimes I nail it, sometimes, not so much! That's where step two comes in. Can you say, Photoshop? For me it's just minor tweaking here – cropping, adjusting sharpness and contrast, maybe enlarging the photo on the monitor to do small studies of a particular area. Now it's time for the pencil. Often I will just take a quick thumbnail and enlarge it and start with that. Sometimes it takes getting into the paint to firm up things the way I want. This is more often the case with an oil than a pencil or oil pastel. With the latter two, I tend to like to have the drawing more developed before transferring to paper. Then I clean it up some more. At this stage, however, the composition is usually set.

Sometimes, though, as I go along I find that the piece could be improved by a crop. With my latest oil pastel, it was almost the opposite. In my mind I had intended to stick fairly close to the photo, with the bottom edge ending at the horse's arm and through her barrel. When I got down to that point though, I started to draw in the underline of her abdomen, and indicated a foreleg. This made the piece less static. So in thise case, rather than cropping the image closer, I'll keep it open.

My working title for this piece was simply "Postward", but I think I'll call it "Fired Up" inspired by the fact that the filly's name is All Fired Up. The photo was taken before the running of the Alywow Stakes on Oaks Day.

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