Creative Spark: Perpetual Motion

Alchemy (pastel on paper, 25½x39¾) by Peter Seltzer

I use a responsive method of painting, feeling out the areas where I need to strengthen light, subdue it, or emphasize elements of the composition. It’s not uncommon for me to spread the focus across the picture plane. Instead of having one isolated area that’s the main focus, I tend to allow for the eye to move across the composition with relatively equal attention to the elements in the eye’s path.

Alchemy is a good example of a painting that works in this way. There’s a lot going on in this piece, to say the least, but if you really look at it, you’ll see there’s a certain repetition of forms, horizontals and elements that move the eye across. Working this way demands that you have a good degree of control over your movement, so that the viewer’s eye moves.

Creating rhythm brings a subtle organization to a potentially chaotic composition containing many elements.  Just as there is rhythm in music that underlies the melody and helps move us through the song, we can also create visual rhythm, which guides the viewer’s eye through the painting. 

Try using some similar shapes and sizes, repetition of color and even similar negative spaces to establish unobtrusive flow.  There is always a delicate balance in achieving movement. Can you move the viewer’s eye without being too obvious? You don’t want the rhythm to overtake the melody.

Try This at Home

Show us one of your pastel paintings (or several) and tell us what you did to direct the viewer’s eye through the composition. E-mail images to (as a 4×6-inch JPG image with a resolution of 72 dpi) by April 20, 2009. Type “Creative Spark” in the subject line and include your name, e-mail and mailing address. The “editors choice” will receive a half-stick set of new Colourfix Pastels, a Rainbow Pack of Colourfix Paper and a Colour Shaper blending set (total value $160).



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