Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Field Compositions

"Field Studies"
9x12 (4x12, 5x5, 5x7) pastel

When we're out in the field, composition often suffers because we simply take the first design we see. Yesterday, I demonstrated to my mentoring students how you can take a single, 9x12 sheet of paper, divide it up and do several compositional studies. I recommend doing several of the same scene, as I show above.

The top section is 4x12; the square on the left, 5x5, and the remaining space, 5x7. This gives three radically different composition possibilities: the 1:3 panorama, the square, and the standard-size 5x7.

In each section, I tried to maintain the same center of interest, the rock column. In the last, I deviated a bit and zoomed in on the foreground field, but the rock column is still a player.

By the way, you'd think that three paintings take a long time. But after selecting the pastels for the top piece, I simply used the same palette for the remaining two. The work goes much faster once you've chosen your palette! I did this in about 90 minutes.

Below, I've cropped out each section so you can more easily see how the compositions work.

One of my students, Miki Willa, has been blogging about this week's experience. Check out her comments here at

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