• Carolyn Land

How Do You Approach a Painting?

“The word ‘composition’ moved me spiritually, and I later made it my aim in life to paint a ‘composition’.  It affected me like a prayer and filled me with awe.”                                                                Wassily Kandinsky

Paper collage by FL artist Carolyn Land

At the Jetty


Someone e-mailed me, asking how composition fit into the creative process? We learn from practice to blend the technical aspects of a painting: good “Principles of Design” with the emotional aspect of the painting. I have discussed in previous blogs the motivation behind my work, but not about how I approach the painting itself.  Everyone develops their own way to approach a painting.  Some like to create chaos and then filter out the unnecessary parts and rework areas until the composition becomes strong. Others, like to start with a format, so the underlying composition is already there, and they work on top, knowing that there are “strong bones” underneath.

Both ways are very valid, and have their own set of pros and cons. If I have a failed painting, I love the challenge of making it work; making order out of chaos.  But mostly I like to work with a format.

Collage by FL artist Carolyn Land

The falls


I lay out a color pallet that goes with what I am trying to express, and then divide my painting surface into large formatted shapes.  Being a lover of nature, the high horizon, low horizon format works well for me.  After I have set in my color values, I enter the “zone” where I don’t worry about the correctness.  Knowing I have a strong under  structure, allows me the freedom to just paint and let the creative energy flow.

The most important thing is to enjoy the process. There is always time at the end to critique and “tweek” your composition.

Pastel painting by FL artist Carolyn Land

Around the Bend


This is much easier when painting realism, “Mother Nature” provides the format.  The artist edits the material, which will go into making it a strong composition, and then paint; adding the depth of feeling he or she feels for the scene, or subject.

How do you start your painting?

“Even in front of nature one must compose” Edgar Degas

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