Last from the Fields

Naturally Composed 10″ x 10″ Oil on Panel

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Even when I am doing the set up for one of my small paintings I can take hours over the composition. And to my mind for good reason – the success of a painting relies on its composition.

There are times when I have spent so much time on composition that I am eager to ‘just paint something’ and thinking ‘oh for pete’s sake this composition is OK’ I have forged ahead with my brushes only to be sorely disappointed with the outcome because the composition has let the painting down.

Conversely on other occasions when I have finished a painting but felt that something isn’t quite right I have turned it to the wall and left it for a couple of months. When I eventually return to it with fresh eyes I can sometimes establish what is wrong and improve on the composition by actually cropping the painting. A few years ago I managed to rescue two compositions (and thus generate two paintings) from one large still life – both are now hanging on someone’s wall.

In all art forms composition is the key creative element. Many commentators would go on to say that there is nothing new in creativity it is simply taking an idea or concept that works successfully in one environment and applying it to work successfully in another (I’ll return to this in my next post and painting). I would agree – artists have fed off the ideas of other artists throughout history. It follows then that to create something ‘new’ or ‘different’ within the confines of an aesthetically pleasing piece of art ain’t particularly easy.

So when it comes to painting a vase of flowers the pressure really is on if I want to move away from predictable composition. A vase of flowers is the kind of thing that I could spend hours on faffing around and applying concepts and rules in an attempt to achieve something vaguely original. Then sometimes instead of doing all that, out of the blue Nature offers up an exciting alternative dynamic. So it was with these Corn Marigolds.

I had simply left them in a vase on the floor of the studio to settle down in their new environment, because flowers often move about a bit initially when they have been cut and stuck in a vase. Its my experience that they regularly refuse to stay in the original arrangement. When I thought that they were ready to sit still and be painted I discovered that nature had done the composition for me. The heads of the flowers had mostly turned to the light which is something that I would normally try to avoid in a composition and the light was a bit vague which presents its difficulties but taking a few liberties here and there I really liked the concept . . . thanks Mother Nature.

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