Say Bon Voyage to This Kind of Painting

8 Apr 2014

Passing clouds from my window by Jos van Riswick. The artist has made a commitment to doing a postcard-size oil painting a day.
Passing clouds from my window by Jos van Riswick. The artist has
made a commitment to doing a postcard-size oil painting a day.
Wherever I visit, I always send my parents postcards. It's a way of sharing my travel experience with them; giving them a sense of what I'm seeing and the environment I've immersed myself in. They have postcards from small towns and big cities, from local hot-spots and abroad.

And I used to always find postcards in vendor kiosks or tourist shops, but now I realize I can take advantage of this mini format by painting and drawing postcards of my own and then sending them to friends and loved ones.

Working on a postcard-size scale means I have to create tighter composition because there is no room to waste. In such a small format, I've come to realize that an angle of action is key. Filling in all of the space on the postcard tends to make the scene read flatly, so I try to pick a strong diagonal or X-shaped arrangement that offers white space around the main action to give more impact to the objects I am depicting.  

Also, using less detail works to my advantage when creating a landscape painting and prevents my hand from cramping as I try to use tiny controlled brush or pencil strokes to capture everything I see. But that's definitely not the only way of working. My amateur abilities have led me to try and suss out the crucial parts of a scene so I don't mess it up trying to add detail upon detail (especially in a watercolor painting!), but the more skilled you are, the more you might be able to incorporate. Go for it!

Landscape with farmhouse and shed by Jos van Riswick. The strong diagonal in this landscape makes the small postcard seem larger.
Landscape with farmhouse and shed by Jos van
Riswick. The strong diagonal in this landscape makes
the small postcard seem larger.
The postcards I'm doing aren't something I can just do in the time it would take me to write on the back of a bought postcard, slap a stamp on it, and send it. They require more time and devotion, so I'm totally taking advantage of working from photos I take. I can snap a few throughout the day when I travel and pick one to inspire a postcard when I've got a few evening hours to work on the pencil sketch or painting.

The other thing I will keep in mind during all my travels and adventures is to experiment with mixed media and maybe use watercolors because they are so easily transportable. If I'm stumped over how to deal with a scene I want to depict, I can also take leeway into abstraction if I think it resonates with the feel of the place. To see more about what I mean, consider Mark Mehaffey's Kit on Landscape Painting and Abstract Landscapes, and you'll soon be ready to make your own art when traveling and having adventures away from home. Enjoy!

 


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Comments

dianedoodles wrote
on 10 Aug 2011 6:42 AM

I am inspired by the concept of the postcard paintings. It is wonderful and a time redeeming art.  Enjoy!

MelvinToledo wrote
on 10 Aug 2011 7:14 AM

Ohh, I have some new ideas now... great post, Thanks.

on 10 Aug 2011 8:07 AM

Small postcard size paintings are great. I've been trying to do more lately, less time needed, not nearly as intimidating to try new subjects and methods, and local galleries will consider taking them on because of the smaller prices and smaller wall space required to display them. - Great article.

padillapost wrote
on 10 Aug 2011 2:49 PM

I paint some of my wee postcard paintings on location. Some when back home from vacation. Some I dont get around to for years. Since i'm not mailing my 'postcards' to anyone....what's the rush?

Cynthia

CPadilla, sketching across TX, NM, CO, CT, MA, MO, KS, Canada, Central America, Internationally: fruitflowerinsect.blogspot.com