There are many rules and ideas for composition. No one idea is perfect for all situations. You may have your favorites or you may like to try new ideas frequently. Today I’m going to discuss the idea of framing. I’m not talking about the frame of the painting but using framing as a composition device.
I most often use framing in landscapes, cityscapes, and sometimes interiors. This means that I’ll often place a large tree or bush near the front of the picture frame, usually on one side or another, with the main view in the middle distance. This leads the viewer’s eye into the painting and directs its focus.
Sometimes in cityscapes, the view might be between two buildings or down an alley.
In a recent couple of paintings of the same subject – a child flying a toy airplane at the park – I first explored just the child and the plane. In the second painting, I used the framing composition to lead the eye from the near subject matter, to the large tree on the left, to the child and plane in the background.
In another couple of paintings, I painted a straight view of a Grand Canyon vista. The second landscape shows the Grand Canyon framed by tree in the front.
Here is an interior view using compositional framing. The doorway, chair and plant, lead the eye through the doorway to the desk in the distance.
There are no hard rules on when to use compositional framing. It’s mostly a matter of what you feel comfortable with, what helps your painting. I’ll often do several thumbnails or even larger charcoal drawings to test the feel of the subject.
Alley 2, Belgravia Court, Louisville, KY, original painting, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle
I seem to be stuck on a theme of alleys these days. This is another alley view from Belgravia Court in Louisville, similar to last week’s post but a different alley. I’m not sure which one I like better, the horizontal or the vertical. Both paintings are acrylic on canvas. Now I need to find more alleys to paint.
Falls of the Ohio II, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle. This view is looking back towards the shore from the beds, where the puddles reflect the cloudy sky and trees.
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I took a day trip to the Falls of the Ohio in New Albany, Indiana. Although it’s only a short drive away, I had never been there.
The Falls of the Ohio is an Indiana state park set on the edge of the Ohio River. It features large fossil beds which visitors can climb over. You can view thousands of fossils right beneath your feet. As the level of the river drops, more layers of fossils are uncovered.
Falls of the Ohio I, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle. View from the treeline at the Falls, across the river towards Louisville. We saw a train crossing the bridge while we were there.
The day we visited was an in and out day, with showers alternating with sun. I particularly loved the setting along the river. The old trees, the puddles reflecting the trees, the skyline of Louisville across the river. We even saw a train crossing the old bridge.
There is an interpretive center which has a fee but the visit to the Falls is free. If you go there, it is a bit tricky to find but follow the signs. Obviously it’s on the river so you will be looking for River Road. Take a picnic lunch or travel along River Road to eat lunch at one of the many neat restaurants in the area. You can even follow the road east to Jeffersonville to the walking bridge over the Ohio.
All in all, an enjoyable day. It’s good to try something new.
I'm a professional artist, retired director of a performing arts center, bona fide book addict, and enjoy the quiet life...most of the time. I'd love to hear from you or get your ideas for future posts. Come back soon!