Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Composition and the Crossword Puzzler

Composing a group of figures is to painting like a crossword puzzle is to a puzzle-maker. It's a matter of fitting all the pieces together in a pleasing manner that makes logical sense with a bit of fun added in. It has to feel right as well as lead the eye around the painting. Some crossword puzzles have pretty simple layouts like a single person portrait; a head somewhat centered on a canvas. Then there are the New York Times Sunday Crossword puzzles which are the hardest of the whole week--that would be like composing a whole army on a battlefield!

I really like painting small groups of people which must be like the Wednesday crossword puzzle; challenging but do-able. I like feeling the relationship between the people and then trying to portray that in paint. I remember when my own sons were young. When they entered a new group of kids, there was an initial period of "circling around" the group, watching for an "in". I felt like this tentative boy in the lilac shorts is looking for his in-road. Aren’t we all?

My boys are big now and I've found myself circling around the subject of youth, painting kids more often than I intend! Competently fitting together parts of a painting and creating crossword puzzles can give us in-roads to our psyches and great satisfaction when we master a skill.

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