Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Plein air idea 10


I got a comment the other day asking me to better explain what I meant by the word "footlights". I used it in passing to describe the foreground of a painting. One of the great temptations when painting outside is to show everything from your toenails to the zenith. But it often causes a problem for the viewer. Below is a quote from a post in the archives. You can read the entire thing  Here

"If we only had our eyes set one above the other in our heads, we could see the picture at a glance. But since our eyes are paired side by side we must "lift" our eyes to travel from the foreground to the middle and background assembly area. This unpleasant 'lifting" of our eyes bothers our attention spans, and in that brief unconnected synaptic instant in which we are transferring our vision upward to the middle ground and beyond, our whole concentration is lost!"

We generally focus our vision in a narrower band than that, across the center of a view. If the painting makes the viewer feel like they have to move their head to view it you will probably lose them. It is better to begin your paintings foreground  further away from your feet. Just as in the theater the play doesn't begin in the row ahead of you, it happens fifteen rows away from you and it begins with the footlights at the edge of the stage. It is almost always more effective to place those footlights a good stones throw into the view before you.

There is another advantage to doing this too. Al of that close up detail is much more difficult to handle, the really close stuff in a painting can be assertive with its bristling curlicues and pork rind excrescences. The whole bottom third of your painting might get filled with writhing baroque detail overwhelming the viewer on his way through to reach the middle ground where the action takes place.

LOTS OF PAINTERS HAVE REDUCED THEIR FOREGROUNDS TO BROAD OPEN AREAS WITH A MINIMUM OF DETAIL.THE VIEWER EASILY TRAVELS THROUGH THE SIMPLIFIED VESTIBULE OF THE PAINTING ON HIS WAY TO THE INTERIOR.
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If you would like to know about the upcoming July workshop in New Hampshire would you please
click Here. I have included the cost of the workshop and information on the location in the White Mountains.

4 comments:

Todd Bonita said...

Thats good stuff regarding lifting our heads and breaking our concentration. I've never heard that before. Thanks. Brilliant again!

Clem Robins said...

wow! "excrescences"! i've never heard that word. i thought i knew all words. i had to look that one up to make sure it's real.

it think it was Corot who said to begin your foreground fifty feet away.

Simone said...

I think it was Corot who said that your foreground should start at least 50' away from you. Or maybe it was 50 meters. After all he was probably on the metric system.

Deb said...

Wanna come out west and do a workshop?