Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Searching For Balance

Well, look at that, only three days since my last blog post.  I have actually been meaning to post every Wednesday and Sunday, and I did that more or less for a month then lost my way for nearly a month, let's see how long I can stay on track this time.

You often hear about "balance" in compositions for paintings and drawings.  Most of the time paintings are not symmetrical, so what makes for a balanced composition?  I have to admit I can't explain the principle in general terms, at least not very well.  When I am presented with a reference photo to consider for a painting, balance is one of the first things I consider, however I think it's become somewhat intuitive for me after reading so many books (Edgar Payne's book on composition is one of the best for this) and looking at so many master and professional paintings, composition and balance have become somewhat ingrained in my psyche.

I can say this however, balance boils down to shapes, their size, their value and their placement in the composition.  However hue and saturation can sometimes play their part, but if the other factors aren't right, adjusting hue and/or saturation are not likely to help much to correct poor balance.

rural landscape barn green countryside spring
Here is my latest landscape  All of the elements you see in this painting were also in my reference photo but I adjusted their placement and shapes.  I made the outside poplar tree taller than the one closer to the middle, the opposite was true in the photo.  Notice that the peak of the barn roof is offset to one side, that was the case in the photo, this seems to be a common design, why I don't really know, but it does make for a more interesting design and in this case helps to balance the composition.  If the peak of the barn was right on the center of the barn I'd have to move the barn over to the left more and maybe make it a bit taller to balance the composition, assuming I left the poplars as is.

That takes care of horizontal balance, but what about vertical?  I'm not sure it would be considered balance but the composition is divided pretty much in thirds, the grass, then the barn and hills, and the last third, the sky.  However maybe that's too "balanced" and if there was one thing I'd maybe do differently if I did it over it would be to move the barn and hills down a bit and reduce the grassy area.

If you would like to watch a video of me making this painting you are in luck, there's one on YouTube, click and watch now.

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