Radiating Lines Help Move Eyes Around in Art

This little 4x6 inch pastel on homemade ground was a blast to do. I enjoy experimenting with color. All paintings have their challenges, but when one decides not to use local color and instead turn the sky pink and the trees purple and blue, the challenges multiply. This painting started out as a sketch that was an obvious radiating design composition.

I opted not to include the sketch, but it was a thumbnail sketch a little less in size than business card. It was a notan and the above blocked in pastel closely represents the lights and darks in the sketch. The above pastels were rubbed in with pipe insulation to keep the shapes loose. Below is the graphic principle for the idea of radiating.

Color Selection Is Key

Sometimes I start a painting and the color selection is wrong and that sets off a series of events that spiral out of control. I've blogged before about my saving or collecting colors from past artworks or the color combinations I admire in other's works. Still, while those colors work in one painting, the concept might not be as good when I decide I don't want green trees or a blue sky.

The values had to be right. Since the the pink in the sky was making it light and the tree tops bright. I opted for an intense orange for the trees. But that meant the vertical surfaces or sides of the trees had to be muted darks -- you can see how the sides of the trees or wooded area in the finished work has less intense color than the blocked in work. The broad area of orange disappeared to create some shape to the lighter forms.

By darkening the trees vertical space, that helped to add to the radiating lines leading back to the distance. Notice I softened the yellows as they recede to create some depth. I suspect in a larger piece I could have created even more atmospheric depth to make this a stronger work. Still, I felt like a kid again playing with crayons and that meant more to me than the outcome.

What I learned

  • A collected set of colors doesn't always work in every piece, but can if I keep the values relevant to one another

  • Radiating lines design is versatile

  • Being a kid with color is more important than any outcome, good or bad

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