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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Indian Pass Marshes

18x24 inches
oil on canvas

Painter's Tip

Choosing The Best Format

The orientation and proportion of your painting should support the composition you choose to paint.

Will it read better as a vertical or horizontal format? Would a square be just right? If you choose a horizontal or vertical format, you must also consider the proportion of the height to width and where the horizon line will be. Consider the view point. Will the viewer be looking up, down, or straight out into the picture plane? When deciding on the horizon line, remember that unequal divisions of space in the painting are more interesting than centered subjects and horizon lines.

Will it be a landscape, seascape or skyscape? What is the dominant area of importance in the painting? What mood are you trying to convey to the viewer? Often horizontal landscapes are more restful and peaceful than vertical.

I do a lot of square paintings. I find them to be very challenging and the compositions can be grand. Good composition is really important in a square format because there is a natural tendency to make everything a portrait and centered in square formats. Off center is more dynamic and interesting.

The next time you pick up a canvas to begin painting, think first about which format may be the best fit for your composition. Don’t just automatically do it the same way you always do it. Consider the possibilities first.

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