An aside this morning, if you will allow me . . . I've just taken a quick run through the blog pages of some of my artist friends, as I do frequently during the week just to keep up with what is going on and their latest works. The above image of a just completed oil by friend, Linda Besse stopped me dead in my tracks. I had been watching the work progress over the last week or more and was delighted to look in this morning and find that it was completed.
I just love it!
There is so much to be said about it, I don't know where to begin. As Linda pointed out when she showed the first undertoned image of the composition, the subject matter was a bit new for her, as she was preparing for a special upcoming art show with a bent toward what would be called Western themed works. In any event, Linda was kind enough to reference her thoughts regarding my attempts at cows and horses and such, as a means of inspiration to her to tackle something new and different and a bit more challenging in the way of subject matter.
I have great respect for Linda's eye toward interesting composition, and anyone reading these postings here knows that composition and good balance and interest in a work of art is almost the be-all and end-all for me as an artist. So, when she showed the first image of this particular work in its very rough, sketched out form, I was already hooked on it. It was quite obvious to me that her careful placement of each of the compositional elements had been well thought out. She even talked about her concern for the jumble of posts to the extreme right hand margin of the work and her wonder if she should 'edit out' some of that jumble, as editing down is an important part of taking reference material and making it ones own as an artist. Her decision to leave things as they were, in order to, with hope, move the emphasis of the composition to the center of the work where there were simpler and less confusing shapes and forms, was a leap of faith and it, indeed, paid off. She also talked about learning how to develop new color values with textures she had not been familiar with, such as depicting rust and clothing material.
In the final analysis, Linda has produced a work that, had it been done in tones of gray and white, I would be quite proud to call my own. Everything about the piece just sings to me. The dark mass of the cow at left balances perfectly all the interesting forms, shapes and colors of the right side of the work. The movement of the work, from right to left, is in complete harmony with the vertical thrusts of all that jumble at the right margin as well as the strong vertical movement of the foreground figure and the beautifully soft yet important standing background, shadowed figure who stands directly on the center line of the compositional field. With strong light shown on the foreground figure, that is exactly where our eye enters the work. Interestingly, she mentions in today's posting about changing the color of the checks on that man's shirt from what was there in her reference material, to what needed to be there as far as her requirements as an artist to balance and contribute to the overall compositional strength. As I have said many times, choosing to make alterations such as that to reference, making things work for you, making things suit your purposes as an artist, is what generally separates a competent and well done work from the average.
Linda has not only completed an interesting work, one that certainly draws me into it to explore and enjoy, but through subtle and well thought out editing, refining and positioning of subject matter, has certainly produced what I feel is an outstanding example of what good art is all about. To see the full progression of this work, click on the link to Linda Besse's blog page and enjoy!