Sunday, January 24, 2010

Design problems in the placement of trees

There are some common errors in placing a tree on a canvas in an outdoor painting. Usually these are wrong. I try never to say always, but................. Above is a scene with a tree that is placed well on the canvas. Below the tree ends right at the rabbet, that's the edge of the frame and not a freakish Englishwoman's misbegotten issue. It is seldom a good idea to jam a tree or anything else up against the top of a painting.

If you do have to chop the top of a tree of to make a painting do it boldly, like this. It is best to end the top of a tree well short of the frame or run boldly past it, like the example below.

Below is another problem child.

This tree "stands" on the frame. That looks artificial too. This happens because what might look like enough of a gap between the base of the tree and the bottom of the canvas, might not be enough when placed into a frame. The frame will cover up to a quarter of an inch at the bottom of the picture .

It is easy for these errors to happen because the trees are so large and the canvas is small. As you paint them you keep unconsciously making them bigger and they assume a size larger than that you intended. It sometimes works to draw a line at their top and resolve you will not enlarge them past that line.


billspaintingmn said...

Stape, I see this problem all the
(when gilding a frame,) if the art
'pushes' to the side, we have to
'counter weigh it' to give the viewer a sence of ballence. Otherwise it's awkward, and doesn't
look right.

Tim said...

Awesome posts on the trees Stape, when I return to America Ill be coming to your workshops, thats for sure. Trees are a constant factor in landscapes, and something Ive struggled with recently. In the summertime. when the foliage helps us out its easier, but its when the trees are naked that the real trouble starts.

A closeup of that tree you just posted, but in the dead of winter would present an enormous challenge, and can make an otherwise good painting look like my 2 year old nephew got his grubby little hands on my fancy brushes. Could this be a future post per chance?

Knitting Out Loud said...

Just read the Mary Toft blog, have you considered a history blog next, Stape?
Great poem Deb! said...

Yes, this is a problem I see all the time,;poor placement of good work on the canvas. I have a tall friend whose canvas, I think, must be too low for him when he paints. Everything is floated up to the top. So that means that the foreground often does not hold much interest because it's "filled" space, not as carefully composed space.

As you know, I have a contemporary sensibility and so I have forgone framing. Typically, I bring my painting to the edge. I use that the pressure between the panel's edge on the the subject to keep the viewer in the painting. BUT if these works were to ever be framed they would look like disasters.

So it is with GREAT discipline, that when I paint on a canvas in a more traditional manner, I leave a border for traditional framing. But if I don't add framing into the composition, I may as well throw the painting out. It's amazing how I can ruin a perfectly good painting sometimes.

Michael said...

I prefer the third placement down if adding more scenery on the right. I often see problems whereby people have trouble depicting scale. Their objects look like they are toy sized. This occurs more often when the entire object is fit within the canvas. Maybe they focus too much on fitting everything in and loose track of the overall picture. Could be they readjust their focus and just copy everything they look at. They may not squint enough or impose spacial atmosphere that would convey scale and distance. There are artists who are exceptions, you and Marc Hanson are two in mind.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Could you use those little weights they put on rims when mounting tires?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. Landscape painters need to be able to handle trees.

Stapleton Kearns said...

The next blog is going to be on vivisection. Cutting edge stuff, pulling no punches, straight from the heart!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I hate frames. In the future when I rule the world they will all be made of wrought iron.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you, I guess I am in good company there.

Nancy Loh said...

I love your writing and your art.. I'm enjoying your blog that I've just stumbled upon.. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge, Stapes.