Friday, February 13, 2015

Square Composition... How to?

I'm working on some paintings for a gallery and one of the criteria for entry was a 12"x12" canvas. This was a new for me, because I've mostly worked on rectangular pieces. Here are three of my works.
Sea Oats
Allie's Turtle
Yellow Earth
Each piece has different focal points and they "work" within the framework of the rectangular shape.
Composition, in art, is the arrangement or placement of the images on the substrate. In this case, the composition is where the images are put on the canvas.  Are they centered? Off center? To the right? etc. Since I work in rectangles mostly, and because I take a lot of photographs, I've become familiar with the composition for rectangles.
So, when I began working on the square paintings, I didn't give it much thought... until I tried to do some preliminary paintings.
Something wasn't quite right. The focal points looked out of place. Instead of the eye being drawn to the painting in a pleasing way, it was a strain. I thought about it for a while and then studied composition of square canvases.
What I found was that to be pleasing, the focal points had to be balanced. Just like in the rectangle, they had to move the eye in a way that made the canvas embrace the image. I found a few ways that I liked in successful compositions and drew up a little cheat sheet so that I could refer to it with my new attempts at painting a square canvas.
I learned that it was possible to center images on square canvas, but it was also possible to keep multiple focal points off-center. It's just a matter of using the space in an eye-friendly way.
You can download the info for yourself by right clicking and saving the file.

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