Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cropping After the Fact

Last night, just before sunset, we had some gorgeous light on Doe Mesa and Bear Mountain. I felt the urge to do a pastel study of the colors. But because the sun was dropping fast and an advancing storm was herding in the clouds, I didn't make a thumbnail sketch or work out my composition. I didn't have time!

As many of you know, I preach vehemently against skipping the design stage. A good design is the foundation for everything else that follows. But I also remind students, usually during the critiques, that cropping with a pair of scissors can be a pastel painter's remedy for a poorly-designed work. (Oil painters who paint on panels, of course, will have to resort to a table saw.)

On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with just diving in with the pastel or paint. Sometimes you're not sure how the composition will work out. You may have a center of interest, and so you start painting just to see how things develop. That's what I did last night. Scissors work well in this case, too.

One thing to remember is that it's often cheaper to work in standard sizes. Keep this in mind when you're cropping. The piece I did was on a 9x12 sheet; in the images below, I'll show you some choices for cropping it into a standard 5x7. I used my 5x7 template, which I use for outlining a 5x7 rectangle. First, here's the original, followed by the choices. (Click on the thumbnails for a bigger view.)

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