Monday, February 22, 2010

Planning a Composition for a Landscape Painting Using Photoshop

My current landscapes are about strength. They focus on the enduring strength of the elements that make up a landscape, earth, water and sky. When I am planning a composition I'm working to reduce and simplify shapes, eliminating extraneous details. To help me visualize the large shapes and how they fit together I've been analyzing photos by using photoshop to outline what I see as the large pieces of the composition.

Here's another view of the pond that I am considering...

For sheer simplicity I'm leaning to the first photo. I'm also considering pulling the point of view back and allowing there to be more sky. That will give me an opportunity to create some great atmosphere and the quality of light I'm looking for.The feel of that light is better felt in
 the second photo so I will keep both handy when I am painting to refer to .

Both of these with their foreground trees and shrubs gives me an opportunity to continue working with the sgraffito technique I've been using.

You might have noticed that neither of these are great photos.That's a good thing, poor photos usually make better paintings. That's because they contain only the seed of an idea and imperfectly at best.  If the photo is too good we usually end up feeling obligated to copy it too exactly and the room for innovation, problem solving and artistic license is crowded out.

I'll be on a spiritual retreat tomorrow exploring The Celtic Way of Prayer, but I'll be back in the studio on Wednesday to begin this new painting. I'll have a short video and you'll get to see which photo I finally decided to use and what changes I decided to make to the compositions for the final painting.


AutumnLeaves said...

What really captured my eyes and my interest are the directional lines you've included in the top photo to show the direction of the water/waves. Truly inspired, Jan. And this goes right along with something I am talking about on another painter's blog so this has helped me tremendously. Thank you!

Jan Blencowe said...

I'm always amazed at how clear compositional elements become with this simple exercise.

I remember reading once that Leonardo used to sit and observe moving water for hours looking and sketching to understand how it flows and the patterns it makes. Still a good thing to do but I'm also glad that today we can freeze a moment in time wiht a camera to closley study things that normally are in motion.