Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Teton Procession" 6x13 acrylic

With large groupings of animals, the biggest challenge always seems to be their arrangement in the space of the painting. For such a small piece, this ended up being fairly complicated and I could literally go on for pages (but I'll try to keep it short) on why I placed each of the elk where I did. Multiple subjects create several points of interest and the viewer's eye can be jostled about the painting... never settling on a singular major focal point. I was fortunate to photograph this herd early one September morning as they moved accross a platue in Grand Teton National Park. The low backlighting offered a unique opportunity to create that singular focal point by making use of the sunlit steam the herd generated. The easy and predictable solution would have been the bull and his massive antlers, but I've made him a secondary element in the painting. By looking back out of the painting to the right, he gives the impression of the herd being larger than what is seen in the frame of the painting, with more animals bringing up the rear. I wanted the major focal point to be the cow elk in the painting's center (something usually try to avoid, but in this case, because of the strong secondary presence of the bull... it works). So by using the steam to create the area of highest contrast around her head, the viewer's eye comfortably settles here.

This is truly one of my favorite small works. I may use the idea for a larger painting in the future.


Peter Brown said...

Jim, whenever I notice that you've posted to your blog I know a visit will be worthwhile - you never disappoint!

Jim Bortz said...

Hi Peter,
I'm glad you enjoy this blog. When I started this little blog project, I had no idea how much I'd like it. When I'm working on a painting, there is always a constant stream of thoughts parading through my brain. While most are not worth much, this forum lets me record some of the relevant tidbits and share them with everyone. Very cool :)