Have you ever had an image that you wanted to paint but the background held you back? This photo of a rooster which I took while we where in Colonial Williamsburg was one of those pictures.
As a photo, it’s ok, but as a painting there were several things that bothered me.
- The timbers at the lower edge were too heavy and pulled my eye diagonally upward to the left.
- Those fence beams in the back against the bright light made a high contrast area which moved horizontally through the rooster. Try this – look at the rooster and see how those bright contrasts in the fence keep pulling your eye away.
- The limbs of bright green foliage running horizontally across the top, visually squished down on the rooster.
The simplest way to resolve this is to ask myself “what can I get rid of?”
I liked the idea of the beams supporting the rooster, so I streamlined them down to one, than getting rid of the fence helped, using the distant greenery as a textural foil to the smooth feathers was another change.
There are other ways the background could have been manipulated in this scene, it all depends of what you want to say about your subject.