Compositional Rescue

At this point I feel that I am pretty far along in the painting, so it is somewhat disheartening to find a major compositional flaw that I won’t be able to live with. Oil paint is a very malleable medium so I know I can change almost anything, but it is disconcerting to realize that I have come this far without noticing something so major. I am aware of techniques and ways of planning out a painting that would make these gaps less likely to occur, but I find that these techniques dampen or eliminate the sense of spontaneity that is so important to me. I am learning that my creative process requires me to build as I go rather than plan everything ahead of time. There is a sense of creating a little chaos in order to take the vision from the inside out onto the canvas. Then there is a reshaping a refining and a bringing together.

The compositional flaw that I am referring to is the emptiness behind the man on the left hand side of the canvas. The straight line of the wall points directly out of picture and leaves a void. I discovered the problem by employing a simple trick that I have found invaluable over the years; I looked at the painting in a mirror. I have a 8 X 10 inch mirror, covered with finger prints of paint in my studio. I guess that when I look so intensely at a painting for so long, I start to see it the way I want to see it instead of how it actually is. The flip of the mirror jars me out of that illusion and I suddenly see the painting in a different light. Now that I am working with Photoshop, I also can flip a digital image of the painting horizontally and create the same jarring effect.

I’ve been working with Photoshop all morning trying to find the best solution. The images below are, first, the canvas as it is right now, second, that image flipped horizontally, and third, the painting with the changes that I made in Photoshop. Now that I feel good about where I am headed, I just need to paint the changes.

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