Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Using Clear Spatial Planes

Afternoon Colors    9x12     oil on canvas panel.
It's a good idea to consider, at the very outset of designing a painting, what will be in the foreground, mid-ground and distance.  Not every painting will have all three, but understanding, upfront, how you will represent the illusion of space is a big help in planning your composition.  Also, the focal area of the painting must exist at some point in space, and that should not be ambiguous to the viewer.  These decisions simplify many problems and allow you to take better advantage of how you can unify the painting and lead the eye through it.

In my painting, "Afternoon Colors", I knew I would be placing the house in the mid-ground.  The flat plane of the water provides a foreground lead-in, but I placed the shrub in the lower left corner to clearly establish the spatial depth, and to direct the eye to the stairs in the wall, which is the eye-path into the mid-ground.

Just above the wall stairs is another stairway leading from the road and lawn up to the house, and the focal point of the painting.  Remember?  Everything points to the focal area.  In the deepest part of the mid-ground is the large tree which reaches over behind the house, and frames the view into the distance.

All of this was established in my mind before beginning the painting, freeing me to give my painting attention to making good shapes, putting down accurate values and color, and further assuring that everything points to the focal area, without confusion.

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