In this month's blog, you will learn about techniques to help you choose what subject matter to draw or paint for your art compositions. So the big question, what makes an artist choose a subject and paint it in a particular way? Artists alike have their own reasons for how they compose or make subject matter choices in a drawing or painting. Sometimes we work on a theme or genre for a while, what simply catches our eye and other times approach a more complex idea. Rather you are a beginner or a professional, it takes time to train your eye to frame in a composition and know that it composes well.
Sometimes when you look at a blank page, your mind goes blank too. You truly have set aside the time and the desire to draw or paint, but what? Here are several things to consider that I use to help you narrow down the confusion, and get you started with drawing or painting any subject matter.
Whether its from a vision or a dream, or a simple idea, inspiration is all around you! As you begin to truly focus and observe, you learn to untrain your eyes to seeing even the common things around in a brand new light. There are many subjects that you can find right inside your home. Things such as magazine clippings, old photos, movies, posters, as well as in nature and in your community. If you are a person who frequently travel or vacation or love to explore, capture those moments as future references. The goal to keep in mind is to choose objects to draw that will help to develop skills. Having a wide selection of widely varying artifacts even before assembling a sketch for your composition will build a good foundation from which to start. It like legos, once you get started, you'll find that one idea leads to another. Try picking one theme, for example, a particular flower to explore consistently over several days or even weeks. Capture written notes about your thoughts and feelings in your sketchbook or images using your phone.
Frame the Composition
Now that you have all these ideas, you can now organize them in one or many compositions. One simple device that I use is called a viewfinder to organize the scenery of the subject or scene. Using this simple rectangular cutout, it can be moved up, down, left or right to isolate the most appealing aspects of the scenery present in the photo or outdoor scene. It does this by cropping out the unimportant parts resulting in a much stronger composition. To make one, take a piece of paper, scrap mat board or cardboard and cut a rectangular window in the center to look through. The window opening should be proportionate to the prepared canvas in height and width.
Grid the Composition
Another alternative tool you can use is the Grid Technique. Griding allows you to enlarge and/or transfer your compositions to paper, canvas, or wall mural. You are basically dividing the original image or scene into smaller blocks so that you can more easily see what goes where. Grid enlarging is a useful exercise in helping to improve your drawing and observational skills.
I have taught this technique to many students as an Art Teacher and to those learning how to draw. The best part of it is, you don’t have to be skilled in drawing to achieve extraordinary results when using this method. What this entails is to draw or overlay a grid (use transparency film with sharpie) on your reference image and then drawing another grid on your canvas of equal or greater proportion. You then draw the picture onto your canvas concentrating on the contents of each square, one square at a time, until the image has been completed in its entirety.
These are just a few techniques that I use to get my ideas out. Rather you are a beginner or a professional, continue to train your eye to frame in your composition and know that it composes well. Once you've assembled your artifacts, it is time to start! The important thing is to experiment and explore what grabs your visual attention. I find it best to play first and look for instruction books later. Find a good book on the principles and elements of the design online or at your local art store as a foundation. Until next time-go create something new!