Monday, March 15, 2010

Out of Sight, But Still Seen

In my watercolor classes at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, we're currently working on a project entitled, "Out of Sight, But Still Seen". Our goal is to produce a successful watercolor in which we see an something indirectly. For example, we could see a subject's imperfect reflection, its shadow or its footprint.

I'm using this exercise to get out of the rut of painting objects in a classical way. Far too often, art is a repetition of what's gone before and loses our interest. Sometimes the perspective from which the painting is produced is as interesting as the work itself because of the clues it gives the viewer without explaining too much. I like these paintings because I find them mysterious or evocative. In the photo below, I like the way the scene in the rear view mirror seems to fit in with the view, but is really a reflection of where we have been.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Multiple Centers of Interest

My last blog was based on "emphasis" and the concept of having one dominant idea in a painting and focusing on it. Yet I'm often asked, "Can you have more than one center of interest?" The answer is yes, provided that one area is the dominant center of interest and the others support rather than compete with it.

I like to divide the canvas or paper in quadrants and have something strong happening in each quadrant, all the while being mindful that one of these must be the star. And it's important to have balance. If you assign a weight to the visual strength of each area, then the dominant area must be equal to or greater than all of the other areas to have balance.

This is a big subject and I'll talk more about it in my next newsletter. In the meantime, here's an example of a painting that uses this concept. If you divide it into four equal parts, the top, left quadrant is dominant. I used color and tone to draw interest to the other areas, but was careful to subordinate them.