Tuesday 27 January 2015

The Pensive Palette: Silhouettes

"Marsh Wren", 22"x14", oil on board

Visual clarity and simplicity are often forgotten by artists who are so excited about their subject matter that they include everything.  Good picture making begins with a solid idea expressed through strong composition.  To help me achieve my compositional goals and maintain a clear visual message, I will often use silhouettes to make sure the main elements read well.  Reducing shapes to basic silhouettes allows me to focus on shapes without the distraction of colour or detail.  I can also make sure the shape I'm working on is interesting and drawn well.

When testing with silhouettes I will usually work quite small (thumbnails under 2") so I'm not tempted to get fussy.  I want to make decisions based on readability and detail only makes this harder.  We all love detail and can easily fall in love with superficial aspects of a subject while forgetting the overall shape of what we're painting.  Another helpful tool is a digital camera or smartphone.  You can take a photo of a sketch or painting in the early stage.  Use a very small, black and white version of this photo to study the overall impact of the shapes and make sure what you want to say is being heard.

Saturday 24 January 2015

Inspiring Image: Find Your Dots

"Trickster", Randal Dutra, 30"x40", oil on linen

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards."- Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, love him or hate him, made a large impact on the way most of us conduct our daily business. While the myth of Jobs is sometimes blown out of proportion, he did have a honed ability to connect seemingly disparate views and elements to create a new, unique perspective.  He is sometimes described as genius because his innovations seem so obvious upon introduction, yet no one had thought of it before him.  Genius can make the complex unknown understood in beautifully simple terms.  Genius helps us find something we didn't know we were looking for.

Jobs was a big advocate of being open to many sources and then trying to "connect the dots" in his own way.  He had the faith to believe his experience(s) were leading to something new.  We can all develop this ability but it requires awareness and reflection.  As Jobs says, hindsight is what helps connect our experiences into something useful.  The process, however, begins with an openness to that which we do not yet know, and the faith that our individual experience has worth.  

Here's to your unique journey!