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Training the Artist Eye - part 1

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Well, I’ve taken classes and learned all that thumbnail sketching, blah blah blah.  Guess what, my personality just can’t take it.  I GET that it is a great idea, and I can’t really say that i never do it, but in general, I’m much too anxious just to get to the canvas and see what happens.  That’s the kind of painter I am.  BUT I have found a marvelous tool that has helped me prep, that I actually find loads of fun and instructional and I don’t mind doing at all.  And bottom line, I believe my compositions are getting stronger for the bit of time I play.  Here it is:
I’ve talked about the fab online photo editor PicMonkey before but this week I have an exercise for you to try.  This will seriously train your eye to SEE more beautiful or interesting compositions.
Pick a photo from google or bing.
IMPORTANT: If you decide to SAVE your versions of the image (recommended), be sure to name it something different or you will overwrite your original.  Save the original, and make copies of your changes by renaming the filename. That way you can continue to import the original each time and try all sorts of infinite changes.
Here’s one I found – poor resolution and rather uninspiring as is, but certainly useful for our purposes.

Next try cropping it to different sizes, the one below is formatted to 8 x 10 inches (or 4:5 ratio) but if you look closely you’ll see that I cropped it half vase and half flowers.  That makes it a bit static.  Always try for uneven proportions for more interesting compositions.  But always remember: there are no rules!  So just do what you love but KNOW that you are doing it for a reason – to get your mood, impression, expression across.

I cropped it less evenly, more flowers, less vase, same 8 x 10 in. format. If I were to paint this, I would add more flowers at top to emphasize the flowers. In the image the flower height is too similar to the vase height here. This is where we artists get to be DESIGNERS!

Ok, this is a bit better.  You see?  More flowers, less vase.  A better balance.  Maybe your intuition says differently?  LISTEN TO THAT VOICE.  I can only share my perspective.
This one is just a tall and narrow format.  Not too inspiring in this image, though in general I love tall and thin, 2:1 ratio.  Have you tried it? It’s tricky finding ready made frames for this format, so get yourself a stretched canvas to try it out.  10 x 20, 6 x 12, 18 x 36 are fairly common sizes.
A different TALL cropping, not so centered.  Better! More interesting, less static, kind of fun.  I would like to paint this one.
Now go find some images and have some fun at PicMonkey.com.
 Psst – here’s a painting I painted inspired by #2 or #3 above.  See how much fun and imagination one can use with a “borrowed” image? Without infringing on a copyright, that is!  Very important.
This is a commissioned piece, and though I don’t generally “do” commissioned artwork, this one was easy…the assignment was – “Paint whatever you want and add the word “Grace”, I trust you completely.”  Ok, now that‘s my kind of commission! Everyone’s thrilled. Acrylic on upcycled wood.

Blessings and Paint On! Joanie
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Design out of the FlyBird's Box.