View Full Version : Reach (Composition Help)

Painted Melody
05-24-2003, 04:10 PM

Title: Reach (Composition Help)
Year Created: 2003
Medium: Oil
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 18x24''
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

Reach is a painting started last Feb that remains in limbo.

Composition help needed!

I posed hoping for a horizontal composition, but due to impulsive planning, I did not anticipate my arm leading the viewer off out of the canvas. I added a red diagnol hoping it would "stop" the eye, but it doesn't look right visually.

Is there any way to fix this? I would still like my arm to be extended, but not to lead the eyes out of the canvas.



05-24-2003, 05:24 PM
a translucency in the red triangle is incredible
more of that and throughout, and the arm will be reaching into translucency which will be intrisic instead of extrinsic (which is debatable now anyway)
nice job so far too!

05-24-2003, 09:37 PM
the arm could come back in and the hand rest hanging next to the face/shoulders (unless you didn't want to paint hands, as I know they can be frustrating...), but it looks really nice so far. Agree that the triangle on it's own does not work that well.

Or you have the subject stand next to an open door and the door (acting like a block from bottom to top, width of the triangle) might help, I like the background colors and these combined with a touch more white in the door would look good I think...It would suggest the person either just came through the door or is ready to exit..just me though!:D

05-24-2003, 09:51 PM
What a dilemma.

I really like all the wonderful texture that you have in this one.

I see the arm dilemma.

I looked through some books to see what some of the old masters did when limbs went of the canvas. :D

I did not ... yet... find one that would be a good comparison, but it seems when lines lead off the canvas, there seems to be more relation with background and object leading off.

Maybe if the skin color of the arm were more married with the background t would work better.


05-25-2003, 03:43 AM
I think the red diagonal helped, but you are looking for more. After some thought the only thing I came up with is getting a piece of paper and some charcoal and drawing on the paper different things and lay it over the canvas to see how each drawing interacts.

The style you painted this is very expressive and the arm running off the canvas doesnt subtract from the work IMO.

nice stuff,


05-25-2003, 01:38 PM
I think the angle of the arm could change
it is to the side and away now
if it were angled more forward
it could be more of an invitation
into the canvas
an invitation to the viewer
to be more intimate with the subject

love it so far!

05-25-2003, 01:41 PM
Bring the colour of the diagonal onto the other side. That will create a balance and keep the viewer's eyes moving back and forth between them.

I love self-portraits. Is this one?

05-25-2003, 08:45 PM
You could use the old trick of making the diagonal seem like the back of the canvas you are painting.
But I think the painting is so arresting that the arm shooting out of the frame would work.

05-25-2003, 10:14 PM
I agree with Anthony..your portrait is so compelling...that arm would not take me out of it......au contraire....more to thonk about

great piece, Jeremy

Painted Melody
05-28-2003, 01:48 AM
i'm really liking these suggestions... i'm glad i posted it.. now i don't feel backed into a corner with this painting
ill let you know how "Reach" works out...


05-28-2003, 12:57 PM
after some thought,
I had to come back to this one.

I think with your
stance and expression
your arm should stay where you have it
(and take out the dark triangle...
I find it distracting)

the eye might go out
but it will definately
come back in

this work is compelling

05-28-2003, 05:30 PM
I think that your preoccupation with the arm "leading the eye out of the picture" is unfounded. (But I do realise that once you get hung up on something it's difficult to ignore......) In this painting, the arm is passive compared to the facial expression........That is very powerful, and "the shadowy figure lurking to the right of the frame".............looking like someone behind a shower screen, mebees (?) adds a further measure of intrigue - or drama, to the whole thing. Any interest (of mine) in the arm is just to note that it's there...........and seems fine to me, and certainly doesn't lead my eye away from the face. No sir!

Just my view.

andy. :)

Painted Melody
05-30-2003, 12:57 AM
thank you two :)

after the suggestions, i've decided to remove the triangle! and the shadow turning into a person is a very interesting idea to me.... i'm excited once again for this painting

thanks everyone for their wonderful support


05-30-2003, 01:37 PM

So great to see your work again. How ya' been doing?

I think everyone got it right in telling you to let the arm do what it's doing and get rid of the triangle.

Another one of your wonderful self-portraits!