Painting The Long Shaped Picture


Have you ever considered painting the long shaped picture?  That is, one that is longer in proportion than the usual commercial canvas shape, (most of these being 1 to 1.3 in proportion. The elongated shape seems easier to view, conforming to our natural vision and giving a panoramic view. The reason for this is that we most often see more from side to side than up and down. So, the long shaped picture would be more applicable in a landscape, seascape or even a cityscape.

Painting pictures of different proportions can round out your painting experiences and abilities as an artist, as each shape presents different challenges in composition. Also, doing this gives variety to one’s work. I’m not saying that we should all start painting long pictures.  However, you might consider doing some of these for the challenge, or for the variety.  I’m suggesting that we don’t get stuck in one place. Get out of the box and try different avenues.

Here is an example of such a painting.   “Spring in Butler County”                                                           

Now, we must never forget that the subject matter, composition and picture area need to match up for painting the long shaped picture, as with any other pictures. And that’s the bottom line. If it don’t look right don’t do it!   If you force a composition, it will noticeably look contrived: Like putting a square peg in a rectangular hole.

You might consider a painting using the Golden Mean proportions. It really makes a pleasant viewing picture. So, multiplying the height by 1.618; for instance 18″, then the result will be 29.124. Now, if you are using commercial stretchers, you will have to round off to either 18×28 or 18×30. The only other option would be to make your own stretcher bars. Of course this idea is not cast in stone; I have seen paintings where one side is 2 or 3 times more than the other.

The next time you are out searching for something to paint, you might consider subject matter for painting the long shaped picture. Try extending your vision horizontally, taking in material outside your usual range. Sometimes you can reduce the sky and/or foreground to fit the allotted shape.

If you have to trim a finished picture, like chopping off part of the sky or foreground, then it means you have planned your composition poorly or not at all.  So, plan your composition wisely and be sure the subject matter and composition all add up to the shape of the picture.

I invite you to come back to the How To Oil Paint Newsletter to see what additional articles abound.

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