Tag Archives: lindy whitton

Creating a dynamic visual pathway in a painting

What is a dynamic visual pathway?

When I paint a picture I aim to make a composition that will engage the viewer as long as possible in exploring the various elements of the painting. I do this by creating  a pathway that leads around the painting, providing areas of interest for the eye to stop for a moment before leading on again to a different area. I need to introduce design elements that will stop the eye from moving out of the painting edges too soon – of course the viewer will want to move on eventually but by using lines, shapes, careful positioning of elements , colour and texture they can be encouraged to explore the painting a little longer.

The reference photo

This is a pretty good composition already – the shed is a a touch too central and to the edge but the client really wanted the view sweeping down to the lake from the cabin porch so I left it there and emphasized other areas of the scene to draw attention away from the shed. The bottom left corner seems to pull the eye out of the painting so I plan to make the flowers a little taller and a bit bolder. At the moment the garden bed is a bit like a river running down hill!

 

 

Original photo
The reference photo – the view from a cabin by the lake.

 

The flower bed fix.

You can see how the riot of colourful flowers just lifts the whole composition. I took a few liberties with the reference photo to add greater interest but it’s still very recognisable as the original flower bed. I made the orange flowers much taller, fuller and brighter and now the garden bed doesn’t seem to flow out of the corner. The orange flower bush acts as a full stop and the eye is drawn back into the painting. I also flattened out the grassy slope at the edge of the lake a little which helps to keep the eye from running out of the picture at this point.

 

There are layers and curves that lead the eye into the painting.

First we follow the contours of the garden bed from the bottom left up to the shed, now down through the lawn terraces towards the lake . When our eye reaches the trees we start following the lake edge around until we come to rest on the trees behind the shed and again back around the far edge of the lake until we come to the tall trees again. The trees lead our eyes up into the sky where we skim across the hilltops until we reach the tall trees behind the shed again. Now our view is pulled up to the clouds across the sky following the cloud shapes and when we come to the trees again they pull our eyes back down to the grassy area and across to the orange flowers where we start all over again.

 

The visual pathway
The visual pathway

 

Next time you’re looking at a painting notice how your eye is drawn into and around the picture. Soon you will find yourself noticing the design elements an artist has used to help you enjoy the different areas in the composition, a place to linger , a jolt of colour to excite, a quiet area to let your eye rest a moment. If you find yourself lingering in front of a painting chances are the artist has created a strong visual pathway.

Light and Shadow – beach painting.

I love this little beach in the south of Tasmania – Drip beach seems such a humdrum name for such a gem of a place ! I painted this over the weekend and tried my hand at a time lapse video which I’m trying to edit to post on YouTube this week. Apparantly it’s very simple – I’ve heard that before! Actually I’ve already downloaded some software and done the time lapse bit but the music soundtrack didn’t appear to “stick” and it’s a silent movie – will have another Google and see if there’s a fix for that before I post it.

I also did a full length video of the process – the painting took an hour so not sure if anyone will ever want to sit through that. And I learned that I like to chew my cud whilst painting – who knew! So from now on I’ll have to mindful of all my little painting foibles and do a bit of editing before I hit record. I still have to do the voice over so that might have to wait till later for it’s first night release – so hold off on the popcorn and choc top ice cream till further notice!

Given all the delays that are bound to happen as I navigate the technological maze ahead I thought I’d just throw up a quick still demo here. Apologies for the photos which are not my usual quality – I took some stills from the video and didn’t realise they would be so low res.

Sketching up

Just a few simple charcoal lines to block in the basic shapes of tree line, beach and rocks. There’s no real detail and the rocks will change as I go on.

Full Sketch (28-02-2016 5-32 PM)

The sky

Here I just layer in loosely some soft pinks and yellows near the tree line and then some light blues at the top of the sky . I run the blues over the pinks and yellows and then with the side of my finger blend the colours together to cover the reddish background colour. I don’t really want the backgrund to show through here but it will give a bit of an underglow to the sky.

Next I go back in with the same colours and lay a light layer down to bring back the luminosity to the sky. The crystal structure of the pastels allows the light to bounce off them but not if they’re all pushed into the paper. That’s why I go back again to get a looser layer on top – I want that light and luminosity back again!

1

 

The trees

Now I start to block in the tree shapes starting with some deep dark blues along the beach edge . I follow with some lighter greens , golds and siennas. I work the whole area going back and forth until I have a good balance of dark shadows and sunlit areas. I will come back later and adjust. I also add a sliver of sand at the base of the headland.

 

The Water

Using a light blue similar to the sky value I start laying in the water. I pop in sonme of the tree colours from the headland as reflections and then just smooth them a little with the side of my finger. I let some of the back ground colour show through the water.

I add deeper, darker colors for the water in shadow at the beach edge along with some darker blues.

Reflections2 (28-02-2016 9-51 PM)

 

The beach

Now I want to get the beach established which I do by laying in strokes of purples for the shadowed sand and pinks where the sunlight finds it’s way through the dense trees. I add some sienna next to the dark water where the sun is shining and the contrast really helps to add a bit of zing to this area.

Beach 3 (28-02-2016 9-53 PM)

 

Back to the water

In with some deeper blues, a few rocks and some white foam around the rocks. I also start some dark shadows in the rocky area.

rocks start (28-02-2016 11-06 PM)

Now for the rocks

With a deep purple I block in the shadows and then use a cream colour for the brightest highlight on the rocks. Then I can start modelling the rocks using mid value oranges, golds and greys. I then come back in with blues and browns in the shadows until I have the rock shapes defined.

 

A final round up

I go back over the painting adding a little here and subtracting a little there. I tidy up the rock shapes, add some grey tree trunks amongst the foilage, refine the pebbly area next to the rocks and the painting is done.

Light and Shadow

 

You can also watch a time lapse video or the full narrated 30 minute video.

 

Travel sketch books

I had a very wobbly moment today. I wanted to check one of my travel sketch books and I just couldn’t find it! I spent last weekend moving my art supplies into our home office and my husband out ( he’s retired now – why does he need an office?). It’s a tiny space, 2×2 metre , so not much room to lose anything you would think. Wrong! I’ve got a complex system of wheeled storage that I move around depending on what I’m doing and where I need the space. There’s a lot of storage for such a tiny space. And then there’s all the other nooks and crannies around the house where I’ve squeezed in a bit of art ephemera that just won’t fit in that little 2m cube. ( I used to have a bigger room but the prodigal son returned and there went my art studio).

So I emptied drawers, moved piles of books, checked under the bed and in the wardrobe. I found some odd socks, 2 dollars, a missing earring and finally three sketch books – but there’s a lot more than that. I could feel my skin getting clammy and a mild sense of panic rising at the thought I might have lost them. Of course I eventually found them – there’s always that one drawer you forget about even when it’s right in plain sight. The heart rate returned to normal and I sat down for a satisfying hour of memories.

The travel collection
Here they are! All those travel memories.

 

Why did I panic at the thought of losing them? Because these travel art journals bring back a lot of sense memories that I just don’t get from my photos.

I can smell the lavander…

Lavendar fields - Provence

I can taste the salt in the breeze….

Walking round an island in a day - Porquerolles

I can feel the heat bouncing off the rocks…

Nursing a sprained ankle - Arches NP USA

I can hear the sound of my laughing children in the room behind me as I sketch at the open window…

View from the Gite window - Burgundy

I can feel a frisson of fear as my husband stands too near the edge….

An evening walk - Etretat

I can feel the joy of finally getting to those US desert national parks after a decade of wearing my husband down –  he loved it! ( not the wearing down part –  the desert colours part)

Red Rocks - Nevada

Travel is a big part of our lives – and travel sketch books have become an integral part of that experience for me.

And yes – I’ve put them somewhere safe.