Monday, May 11

Cropping a Picture to Paint

Mighty Oaks
Oil on Canvas Panel
 20 x 16 in/50.8 x 40.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
I know this is a blog about the painting life and not photography, which you usually equate with the term cropping (as in cropping a photo).

Some may also call it editing, but to me that's something different. Cropping is part of the act of composing the picture (or motif) you are going to paint. It's about balancing the composition. It's about leaving out extraneous elements. It's about finding the focal point. It's about deciding on the format--horizontal or vertical.

Cropping is about all those things as well as remembering you are creating a painting and not taking a picture.

What a viewer or critic likes or not is all a matter of subjective taste; however, here are a few things that will help you:

- Rule of Thirds is (in a nutshell) virtually dividing the picture into thirds vertically or horizontally and placing the focal point near one of the four points where the lines intersect or placing it in one of the thirds, again either vertically or horizontally.

- Odd Numbers (1,3,5, etc.) and Objects refers to the fact that an unequal number of elements is much more interesting to look at than an equal number of elements; this means (almost) always including an odd number of objects; also remember not to place two of the same thing and size near or next to each other.

- Frame the View by creating a view-finder with your own two hands using your thumbs and index fingers; This will help you "see" what you want to paint and eliminate everything else

The reference photo for today's image, which was used on permission, was much broader in scope than the finished painting. The photo had a broad horizon line of which the trees were just a small portion--about 1/8. There were also three very large boulders in the left foreground that were cropped out.

I hope you can imagine how cropping improved my painting.

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