Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Balance or steelyard compositions

Above is a painting I just dropped off at Rock Point Gallery in Northeast Harbor. Maine. I painted it last summer out on one of the islands in the Penobscot Bay.

I want to begin with a few news items. The first is that one of my post has been published on Fine Art Views, an online magazine ( I guess that's what it is ) They have about 9000 readers. It seems kind of strange to be read by so many, as I am usually writing for the several hundred readers of this blog. You can go to that link and if you like sign up to receive their frequent articles via e-mail. I may be writing more for them, I guess it will depend on whether their readers enjoy what I do.

The second news item is that I have the dates and more info on the workshop ion Jaffrey New Hampshire. It will run from September 19th a Saturday through September 221 a Monday. The price will be $300 dollars per student. I will post a link soon to a sign up form that will allow you to reserve your spot with a deposit using Pay-Pal. The hills of Southern New Hampshire will be beautiful at that time of year and we should have a great time. The class will be kept small enough that everyone will get individual instruction. I can help you paint better!

I have posted the image again so you won't have to scroll up to see what I am referring to. This painting is built on what is probably the most common design stem. The Balance or Steelyard. The group of trees on the left is counterbalanced by the long line of the distant shore to its right. If you imagine it a see-saw, the fulcrum, would be to the left of the center of the painting, like so...

If you imagine visual interest as having weight, the trees have more "weight" than the shore behind , so it takes a greater length of them as a counterbalance. Its just like a lighter child who must sit further from the fulcrum of a see-saw to balance a heavier child. The fulcrum is seldom in the middle because most of the time artists are deliberately balancing a heavier mass with a lighter one. That is an artistic balance of unequal parts. There are some symmetrical pictures, usually religious scenes that use an equal balancing scheme.

This triptych was painted by Giotto 1267- 1337 image courtesy of Even this piece is not totally symmetrical but the side panels both balance with the middle panel. Extremely symmetrical compositions give a feeling of stillness. That can be used to give a feeling of Holiness to a painting. But be very careful with that, unless you are doing altarpieces, that level of symmetry can be very oppressive in a painting that people will have to live with. It can give a real severe and primitive look.

Here is a beautiful Inness. The two sides of this painting balance one another. There is more weight on the right and it is balanced with a more interesting area on the left.

Well that should do for tonight. More tomorrow.


Woodward Simons said...

Congrats on your first post for Fine Art Views!

I'm a bit frustrated because I will be driving guests up to Maine while you're giving the workshop in Jaffrey.

Unknown said...

It seem like you painting also balances from front to back (depth wise). The heavy foreground rocks balance the more delicate and distant coastline.

willek said...

Again you have made a beautiful picture out of a scene that I would have walked right by. For practice I should probably walk around town here at home and pick some ordinary places and see what I can do with them. I have been told by people who should know, that there should not be a line to a corner in a picture. I have gone to great lengths to get stream edges, side walks and road sides away from the corners. But You have done it here and I think it is just fine. That line draws the viewer into the heart of the picture withour being distracting. WillEK

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks Lori;
I am grateful for all of your help in making that happen. Go to Loris site at; and see her paintings,and to read her informative blog on art. Lori writes for several magazines on watercolor and on the business of art and social networking for artists.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I hope it does! I was hoping anonymous would show his art to Frank at;

Internal balance in a painting is so cool!

Stapleton Kearns said...


I like those coastalscenes and little coves around Maine. I think they make great subject matter.
I tried that line higher and it didn't work. I put it it is and it seemed to be not a problem. I always worry about those lines to the corner things. I have fought that many times in a painting.
No password?

Unknown said...

I saw the post on Fine Art Views!
Just wondering, does everybody here know if you click on the photo of the painting you can get a really nice large view of it?

"werher" What my twin brother always used to say when Mom demanded to know who broke the vase.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I assume you mean the pictures on the blog.
werher= the crusted sediments of ancient yogurt found on amphorae salvaged for the contemporary treacle industry.