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Dianne Mize posted on 14 Oct 2008 9:32 AM

When setting up your compositions, what causes you most problems?

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Good question!  Unless you are running on pure instinct, usually only accomplished after years of full time painting and practice, there are so many things to think of at the same time, much like a golf swing.

Be aware of not bisecting the image with a central horizon.  Locating the focal point according to the golden rule is critical.  Not having action heading off the canvas, such as a ship sailing to the edge or a horse running off the edge.  Later you have to be aware of values and temperatures and color combinations.

I am looking forward to hearing other's thoughts on this.

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I would say adapting a photograph to an altered, improved composition that's interesting and effective.

BTW - I'm so glad you started this group as it's one that I felt was one I'd really benefit from.

Celeste Vaught

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Dianne, thank you for creating this group! I have a problem and it's a big one! I hope someone will open for me a secret of composing still life the way it would look natural, like I had no touch to it. Most of my paintings from the past now look too artificial (to me at least). Is there any rule, many rules, instructions, manuals for creating something not boring or tasteless or it's just a gift?

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Anna,

    Usually when a painting look artificial or stilted, it's because the artist was focused too much on the images and not enough on the light and shadow patterns.  I have a suggestion for you to try and would love to hear whether it helps.

  I have two tutorials HERE and at HERE  Spend some time going through each one of them then apply what you learn to your still life painting.  Learning notan has transformed the work of my own students and I think it certainly couldn't hurt.

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Celeste,

   Good point.  Some times a photo has no redeeming qualities.  But at other times one can find a hint of a value pattern that can be emphasized.  One exercise I gave my college students was to develop a value pattern that gradated dark to light in any direction, then adapt a photo to it.  It's a good exercise and has potential for stimulating ideas. 

   With your permission, I think I'll explore this topic in an Empty Easel tutorial or on my Composing blog.

 

 

 

 

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Christopher,

  You've listed some of the really important ones. I, too, am looking forward to what others have to say.

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Dianne, thank you for your response. I new I need to enter this group. I found your ideas to be very useful for me; I'll try them and will be back with the result promptly.

Thank you so much!

Anna

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Sounds great Dianne!

Celeste Vaught

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.

The centre line taboo is of course meant to be broken and can be played with very effectively. But it's wise to caution beginners away from that kind of composition.

I think that there is a painting by Buff Holtman in the galler of a lavender plant and a lavender field in the background that very effectively plays with the rule. I've attached it here

 I'd like to see soneone post a problem composition so that we can discuss it. I'm resilient so I'll find one and do that

catherine

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Appears to me this Holdman piece has used a play on the symmetrical balance method similar to what Leonardo used in "The Last Supper, "  with all his major lines converging at a single point.  I'm bothered, though, by the light green tornado shape in the top center.  It seems to isolate from everything else in the painting. I don't see it serving any other function in the painting.   I do like the way he's gradated from green to purple, bottom to middle, but he fails to carry that theme anywhere.  I think he could take this idea from an experiment to a compelling painting, but for me, it's not there yet.

 

I like the idea of posting problem compositions for analysis and discussion , but I hope this won't turn into a forum for simply people patting each other on the back.

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What I see that is interesting is that the point of the lavender plant at the front is just to the right of centre and that the green tornado's point is just to the left of centre - so they point in towards one another but don't match. So you're saying then that this offsetting is a play on Leonardo's convergence on a single point? Nice! Thanks

 

<<I hope this won't turn into a forum for simply people patting each other on the back.>>

Well the impish part of me says that I'm happy to rely on you to prevent that happening!!

Seriously, if the criticism or applause is articulate and specific and focussed on a compositional issue, I don't have a problem with it being negative or positive.

 

Thanks for responding. I am happy for this dialogue!!

 

catherine

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 <<I do like the way he's gradated from green to purple, bottom to middle>>

 

Oh I forgot to say that,

What I see is that there is graduation from the bottom of the painting, the bottom green stalks of lavender)and again from the green top of the painting, the tornado, and both graduate into purple in the middle. The lavender plant, so beautiful, is almost menacing by virtune of its coming to a point, by its inverted parallelism/comparison with the tornaado and by virtue of the little red/brown marks around the point look like a gun sight).

 

cathy

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Catherine,  to get a better idea of what I meant by referring to Leonardo, go HERE.  Dianne

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Thank you for the reference!  But what makes this picture interesting is that instead of the viewpoint being dead on (as if we were in a theatre audience looking at the stage), this Lavender painting is composed from the viewpoint of this photo below:from down low looking up high, going to a point. If this were the Lavender painting, the tornado would be in an inverted triangle where the circle at the top of the gun barrel is and the farm would be spread out horizontally across the top of the page.

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