Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Duet" and "Ka-Pow"

Duet, 6x6", oil on canvas board

The two paintings I posted yesterday taught me about massing, so I thought I'd try it again. I chose basically the same composition to see if I could do it better, but changed the background color. The result is below. I still found myself painting individual petals. Grumble...  Then I took out the top left flower, tried it again, and squinted more. What I wanted to see the dark and light portions of each flower. The painting above was the outcome. Much, much better. And, hey look: Shadow edges on flower petals are softer than the outer edge of the petal. (Right. You knew that.)

Ka-Pow, 6x6", oil on canvas board

Would the lower of the two pieces (Ka-Pow) have worked without the massing? I'm not really sure. The upper left flower pulls your eye out of the piece. And the value pattern ain't so hot. And everything is the same size. I run into this occasionally in my paintings: Too many things are the same size.

So, one trick I learned for checking your composition is to look along the edges of your painting, at how often the color changes along the edge, and whether it's utterly symmetrical (likely to be boring) or varied (likely to be interesting). I added "likely to be" because there's always someone who can break a rule and make it work. Dang it!

And if you want to read more on the issue of things being the same and how to fix it, get The Simple Secret to Better Painting, by Greg Albert. Good stuff there.


  1. This is such a beautiful painting!

  2. Hi Jala. Thanks for dropping in! Long time! Yeah, there's something in the petals of the white flower, and I can't say I did it on purpose. It's a luck accident that I'd like to learn from.