Luckily, there are many possible answers that come to mind. But to keep it simple, my answer on the art front is...Composition. I concentrated a lot of effort on that concept in 2011. No, I didn't learn it all (with art you never do!). Can't check that one off and move on. But I do feel I made good strides by taking it to another level in my brain processing.
With my Yellowstone Squared project, I stayed conscious of focusing on good compositions - and I did a lot of plein air painting which strengthens the 'composition muscle'. A sampling of my Yellowstone Squared paintings....
Sure, there are rules about good design that you can lean on, and that's a good place to start. But acquiring that innate sense helps immensely. Especially in plein air painting, where speed, along with a myriad of other aspects, are all calling for your attention.
I've read many books on composition and the theories are vast - but the basics hold true through them all. Here are some of the basic rules to lean on as you exercise that "composition muscle"...
- Look for diversity in spacing and shapes - same is boring and feels stiff. Every shape you create and place on your canvas makes both a positive shape and a negative shape, be aware of both as you try to create diversity and harmony.
- Watch putting your center of interest right in the middle. (It can be done successfully, but if you choose to try it, go in with a plan.)
- Don't put anything too compelling close to the edges of your canvas. You could easily lose your viewer. You want to guide your viewer's eye around the painting, not right off the edge.
- Watch the strong shapes and lines within your painting - none should create an awkward tangent (meeting of the two), divide your canvas in half or take you right out of the picture. (Again, it can be done, but know the rules before you choose to break them, so you can make a plan to address the issues.)
Composition is vital - without a pleasing design, you cannot have a successful painting. Period. It's that important. It's hard to appreciate those great colors, when the composition is too awkward to get past. And rearranging major elements in your painting is not easily fixed later on.
So, with the importance of design in mind, I'll post a follow-up demonstration on composition tomorrow to kick off the New Year in a 'good composition' direction. Remember, a good design is the foundation of a great painting!
Take a moment to recognize (and celebrate!)
your leaps and bounds this year -
or even those baby steps.
They all add up...
Happy New Year!