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Old 12-04-2005, 06:21 PM   #21
Chris Saper Chris Saper is offline
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My apologies for being so late to weigh in here ! (Negative spaces are one of my very favorite topics:0 ) I have little to add to the already excellent suggestions, just a few bits of information to share. Peggy Baumgaertner offers a guideline that there should be at least a "forehead's height" between the frame and the top of the hair. I think that's a useful thing to consider, although certainly the individual artist's choice has to trump everything else.

Visually, our eyes tend to "sink" objects into the bottom of the frame - that's the reason the matted work should add a little bit of width to the bottom edge of the mat, and if I recall from art history, one of the key considerations to the Acropolis design. The larger an object is, the greater the viewing distance becomes, which I think that magnifies the "sink factor". Balancing negative spaces includes things like the amount of room you give for example, below the fingers, to the left of the elbow, etc. Anytime pictorial elements get to close to the frame they start to gather unwanted attention.

It's also essential (and increasingly critical as the painting becomes smaller) to take into account the 3/8" frame rabbet that will cover the canvas borders once framed. I think most of us have had the experience of placing our lovely work work in a frame only to discover that the the head was chopped, or the arm created a tangent with the frame, or any number of things that destroy the composition.

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Whew, getting a good reference photo is a lot of work.
So true, and one of the chief reasons for failed paintings. It's worth every minute you invest into getting the best resource you can, even if you don't end up painting it!

And yes, the cat really does mean a double portrait, in that your reference for the cat has to be just as good as your reference for the subject.
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Old 12-05-2005, 10:29 AM   #22
Joan Breckwoldt Joan Breckwoldt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Saper
Anytime pictorial elements get to close to the frame they start to gather unwanted attention.
Hi Chris,

Thank you for your reply. Thank you for pointing this out, I think I knew this instinctively, but having this worded so well will surely save me time in the future when I'm trying to decide how to crop something.

This is such an interesting subject, I've enjoyed all the comments and learned so much.

Joan
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Old 12-05-2005, 10:38 AM   #23
Joan Breckwoldt Joan Breckwoldt is offline
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Final final photo shoot!

This weekend I finally got a chance to take some more photos of my very patient daughter with the tripod I dug up.

I spent some time cropping this and have 3 different compositions that I like and I was going to post one of those, but then I thought it might be interesting to post the original uncropped version and just listen to what the knowledgeable people on this forum have to say about where it should be cropped.

If there is one thing I've learned, there is more than one way to skin a cat. (Speaking of cats, our kitty is no longer a part of this project.) I'm learning how there is no one 'right' answer, but many 'right' answers. Though I suppose one could argue there is the one 'best' answer, but that best answer is the one that satisfies the artist (and client).

I look forward to your comments.

Joan
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Old 12-05-2005, 10:55 AM   #24
Joan Breckwoldt Joan Breckwoldt is offline
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Uncropped photo of my son

This is the uncropped version of the photo I'll use for my son, just for anyone who is interested in seing how this ongoing project is going.

I welcome any comments!

Joan
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Old 12-05-2005, 11:40 AM   #25
Allan Rahbek Allan Rahbek is offline
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Hi Joan,
I wonder if you should try some other expressions as well now that you are in the process of making references.
Tell them not to smile but instead tell you something that they have heard or seen. While they are talking you don
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Old 12-05-2005, 12:22 PM   #26
Joan Breckwoldt Joan Breckwoldt is offline
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Hi Allan,

Thank you for your suggestions, but we're done with the photo shoots! I have been taking photos of my daughter for 7 days and I have learned a lot about light bulbs, lighting, etc. but, now I need to paint. I could spend another week taking more photos, but I really need the practice with painting. If I don't paint my kids this week, then it won't happen until after the holidays. I can always paint them again, and again and again after the first of the year!

I am happy with their expressions, actually I have a better close-up of my son, but somehow I must have deleted the original uncropped version. That's why I put that similar photo in my post for cropping suggestions. I'll post the close-up of his face, I like this expression a little better.

My goal was to get photos with good lighting and nice shadows. I am happy with the results I got, these are so much better than what I have been using for reference material! I'm come a long way with the help from this forum.

I will try your suggestion next time I take their photos.

thank you,

Joan
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Old 12-05-2005, 05:39 PM   #27
Allan Rahbek Allan Rahbek is offline
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Hi Joan,
I would suggest a cropping like this.
Good luck, Allan
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Old 12-07-2005, 05:20 PM   #28
Joan Breckwoldt Joan Breckwoldt is offline
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Cropping

Hi Allan,

Thank you for your post, sorry it's taken me two day to thank you, no internet for a day and then other stuff going on around here.

I like the way you have cropped the image, this in fact was one of the three ways that I came up with. I am intrigued lately with square paintings, I'm not sure why. So it was either a 12x16" rectangular, or possibly 16x20", but the bigger canvas always seems like it has too much negative space. That's probably just my taste and level of inexperience talking at the moment. It's all in what one's eye gets used to and I will probably think completely differently in 6 months about that negative space. Like Michele mentioning that she like more negative space around her subjects lately. Or . .. I was thinking a square composition.

Thank you again, I think it's interesting to see what someone else would do with the same image!

Joan
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Old 12-30-2005, 02:19 PM   #29
Ilaria Rosselli Del Turco Ilaria Rosselli Del Turco is offline
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Dear Joan,
by now you must have already worked a lot on these ones.
I found this discussion very interesting, and wanted to add another element.
I have found that less negative space will increase the sense of intimacy. A closer crop suggests that the painter has taken one step forward and is closer to the subject.
I found this tighter composition has worked quite well for my children's portrait, while once, when I cropped a portrait of two brothers too close, they looked like they were prisoners in a box, a really unsuccessful painting on which I had worked a lot, I still regret the missed opportunity.
I hope you will post the finished paintings
Ilaria
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