View Full Version : choosing backgrounds
02-26-2001, 07:47 PM
I usually just redesign the background into a more fitting composition, blur it a little and paint it a little lighter or darker...adds depth.
Of course, the average client don't appreciate those subtlties and want the painting rendered as depicted. If you want to do your own thing, you have to take the time to educate them.
It's just a matter of time.
02-26-2001, 11:13 PM
Welcome to WetCanvas! In response to your question.
1. Note where the light source is coming from on the figure and whether that light is warm, cool, etc.
2. When planning the replacement background the light should be of like kind as is on the figure.
3. Unless you are placing an actual subject in the background, i.e. trees, sky, book case, etc. keep it simple and use tones that compliment the figure, not detract from it. Test first by holding up pieces of paper painted in different pastel colors to see what will work and what won't.
4. Begin by minimizing the number of colors you use. Start with just one or two and add others as needed.
5. Watch the contrast and intensity of the color in the background. Everything that is done should lead the eye to the figure not to the background itself.
6. Study the work of painters who use mottled backgrounds in their work and practice different approaches.
7. Be certain not to let the figure look like it was cut out of the background. Do some lost and found edging to give the impression of atmosphere and space between the figure and the background.
L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)
02-27-2001, 12:09 AM
Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions! I especially like Diane's idea of holding up different colors of paper up to it to see which one looks the best. Why didn't I think of that?
02-27-2001, 12:34 AM
I do a lot of commissioned portraits, paintings of vehicles, etc. Many times (though I hate this) clients have a favorite snapshot they want painted, but the background needs to be changed. With the need to create a new background from my imagination, I always seem to have trouble deciding on something appropriate. I especially have trouble deciding what colors to use. I'm always left with the feeling that I have a good rendering of the main subject, but a background that somehow doesn't fit. Anyone have advice on this?
02-27-2001, 12:58 AM
make it dark
make it very neutral
that should cover any circumstance
"it's alright to be judgmental,,,,,,,,if you have taste"...MILT
02-27-2001, 08:25 AM
Diane's given you some great tips here!!!
Bruin some more classical simplicity.....!
I have done quite a few "Sporting Portraits" where the successful, elated individual is either holding a prized fish, or taken a nice buck, etc;
Unfortunately...I encounter the same problem as you. All thoughts of the moment are going toward the subject and catch, not the background.
It turns out to be a blessing for me! I insist (when after pointing out the background as being poor compositionally) in having artistic license to do what will be best. I ask questions about where they were, what kind of terrain, etc; I then might go out and take photos...
For the most part...I will blur out or greatly reduce detail, grey/fade out the color, etc;
If you hold your hand up in the air and look at the back of it against any background, you'll periphally observe that all things blur out in comparison. Since the eyes do this...and since the portrait is the main concern, I take advantage often and blur the background.
I'll squint my eyes to get a sense of the masses and colors, playing them down as needed.
You want the viewer's attention on the subject, so you stare at the subject you've painted to judge that nothing else is shouting to be looked at. Play down...blur, subordinate.
"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!" Edgar Degas
[This message has been edited by lseiler (edited February 27, 2001).]
02-27-2001, 02:29 PM
Larry, thanks so much for your great tips! I just recently discovered wetcanvas.com and I love it. I'm learning more everyday.
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