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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Remove the Rollercoasters from your Paintings!

'Blowing in the Wind'          12x18         pastel      ©Karen Margulis
 I couldn't quite figure out what was bothering me. The painting just wasn't working and it wasn't immediately clear why. It was a demo painting done at a recent workshop. The main focus of the demo was watercolor underpainting so I wasn't really paying as much attention to the pastel application or the composition. When I got the painting home I set it in my pile of unfinished objects.

It caught my eye the other day and I saw it as clear as day. How on earth did I miss it! I was getting dizzy just looking at it. I could picture myself in a rickety rollercoaster cart as it steadily climbed the steep slope to the top. My fear of heights took over. I wanted to get off!  That steep slope was in my painting. Look at the photo below.

My unfinished demo with a steep rollercoaster
Can you see the steep diagonal line of green? All my eye wants to do is ride that green line right up and off the paper....or down and out. Either way this diagonal is too abrupt and harsh.It is unnaturally straight. It really doesn't allow the viewer's eye to move from the background into and around the flowers.

It didn't take much to break up this line and mellow out the slope. I used some cooler greens to push back the hill and put in some sand using horizontal strokes to modify the diagonal so that it isn't as noticeable.

Tip: Watch out for rollercoasters in your paintings. Often steep diagonals all the way across the painting act as barriers. Rollercoasters can also be hills, trees or mountains that have a hard edge at the top creating the feeling of a rollercoaster pulling the eye right out of the painting.

1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

Yeah, that kind of thing can creep up on you. It wasn't obvious at first glance but resolving it gave the painting a lot more power.