Sunday, October 20, 2013

Analysing a simple painting with Photoshop

Back view of J
14 x 11
A couple of weeks ago I hired a model without another painter in the studio to share the cost - my usual practise.  Being able to ask for poses with no regard for anyone else's sight line or preferences was very freeing and I really learned a lot.

This is a pose that I've wanted to paint for some time and when my model showed up with an ultramarine blue dress and navy tights, it seemed perfect.  The continuation of colour through the body to the feet create a graceful, unbroken passage that's simple and descriptive with no need for further development to make that area make sense.

To see what I mean, have a look at this Photoshopped change.

Photoshopped leg colour
I've brushed a similar colour to the arms over the leg area and I find that it makes the leg look much less finished than it did when it was the same colour as the dress.  I'd feel an obligation to at least suggest some toes or an ankle to help the viewer understand that now-prominent area.  Notice, too, how the graceful line is gone. The pose is broken up into pieces rather than united as one large shape.  To my eye, the second version is much weaker.

The simple silhouette of the figure called for an equally straightforward setting, so I stuck with big shapes in the background, only relieving them a bit in the lower left.  That's the edge of a purple, Mexican rug, and allowing it to have some diagonals not only served to repeat the shape of the legs on the right, but also gave a sense of stability to the pose.

This Photoshop experiment shows what I mean.  I turned the diagonals of the rug into a horizontal.  Notice the tippy, unbalanced feel to this one; as if she'll easily slide off the canvas to the right.
Photoshopped background on left
This was a quick painting but, in my distraction-free state, I accomplished and learned a lot.  It was money well spent.

Happy painting!



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