What Makes A Painting Work Art Blog
When you paint, make me believe. A painting attempts to take a flat plane and make us believe images of a three dimensional world. The artist, like the fiction writer, needs to create a willing suspension of disbelief.
For years the wild sunsets often seen in paintings in British and American landscapes from the late 1800s struck me as a fantasy element. I had no problem enjoying the paintings because there was an internal consistency. Under those multihued sunsets and towering cloud formations, deep shadows and rosy or orange hued highlights built beautiful, larger than life landscapes. It was in reading Simon Winchester__™s Krakatoa, an account of the August 1883 eruption of the Indonesian volcano and its aftermath that I learned the paintings were much more realistic than I had imagined. In fact British painter William Ashcroft created over 500 watercolor works documenting the view from the London area. Now I admire those artists who captured an amazing atmospheric effect of their time no less than I previously did for imaginative treatment of their subject. I__™ve seen sunset paintings that fail to convince use the brilliant hues of these painting superimposed on a landscape from midday without the long shadows of low sun and light coming from the wrong direction.
The challenge in making my own small pastel painting of ___Sunset, Bandon OR___ believable was to show effectively the glowing reflections on the shallow water and wet sand in the foreground. I used blues to show the pooled water next to the large rock and the ripples of very shallow water. White marked bits of sea foam. The rocks, being back lit, are dark and somber with a glow at the edge where the golden light touches the stone. This painting worked well enough to get into two juried shows, earning an honorable mention in one, and sell at the opening reception of its first gallery show.
Landscapes depend on our believing in the integrity of their internal world. Light and shadow must be consistent with our experience. Perspective should make some kind of sense, whether we are following the lines leading us through a Utrillo landscape, getting lost in Eschler__™s world, or the flatter look of primitive art. So also must we be careful of point of view. Some wonderful effects can be gained by looking up or down toward something ordinarily seen straight on. If there are switches in viewpoint within the painting or drawing, it had better be done with purpose, as when M. C. Eschler turns his painting and our minds upside down.
Sometimes we alter reality for a better composition; another reason to do so might be credibility. In life a particular tree, building, rock formation, or animal might be part of the area you want to paint, but if it looks like to just stuck it in where it doesn__™t seem to fit, leave it out. Chances are the narrow window of the painting made the odd form more important than it was in the actual scene. The light and shadow may make the rock pile and dry shrub in front of the aspens look like a crouching animal. Simplify instead of risking your viewers seeing it as a malformed beast!
Whatever you do remember that picture world must hold together within itself or they won't buy it--critically or at the cash register!