Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Are You in a Rectangle Rut?

'Serenity Place'          12x24       pastel      ©Karen Margulis  $250

Are you in a Rectangle Rut?  Take a look at the last few paintings you've done.  What format did you use?  Format refers to the shape and size of the painting surface. We sometimes overlook just how much our format choice effects the outcome of the painting.  Each format choice will convey a very different mood or feeling.

Many times we gravitate towards the rectangle format because it is comfortable. It relates to how we see the world...how our vision works. It is especially common for landscapes.  We can choose to make our rectangles horizontal (landscape) or vertical (portrait).  Each will give us a different feeling. I often like to take a painting that I did in a landscape format and do it again in a portrait format just to get a different point of view.


'Wide Open Spaces'       7x15     pastel   $95


'View Across the Desert'         4x12        acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas  $65

A useful exercise when planning a painting is to do thumbnails in several formats so that you can judge which format best expresses your idea. I will often do a thumbnail in landscape, portrait and square. But now I have added a new format.....the OBLONG also known as panoramic format.

The Oblong format is simple an elongated rectangle. It is a wonderful format for a landscape when you want to stress the expansiveness or openness of the scene. As Richard McKinley says in his post about Format choice "When the rectangle is elongated (1:2) beyond the standard rectangle, a sweeping panorama is created. The eye pans back and forth across the design, imparting expansiveness."


'In the Sunflower Field'         10x20      oil on canvas   $165 click here

The next time you are painting a landscape ask yourself which format will best convey the place you are painting....what mood do you want to express?  Do a few different thumbnails trying out your idea in different formats and don't forget to try out the oblong!

The only thing I don't like about this format is that it doesn't translate very well in a photo. the photos appear too small and compressed. I wish you could see them in person!

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