When faced with a subject, from life of a photo, one of the first decisions that’s necessary is, how much to include in the painting.
There are a few questions I ask myself which help to pin this down.
- What is it about this image that excites me, I focus on that. If it’s the expression on someone’s face, crop in close. If including the whole body, the face will end up measuring 2 inches or less (unless working large), it’s very hard to project expression on a 2 inch head.
- How much time do I have or want to invest in this painting? Whenever you zoom out you include more shapes, more shapes equal more time to render each one.
- But most importantly I ask myself, where are the angles?
I call them the dynamic diagonals, the strongest compositional tool there is. Successful ones pull your eye around a scene, weak ones, none at all or the worst of all; pointing in random directions, can leave a viewer not knowing where to look and confused.
This is a scene where there were multiple cropping possibilities. Using the whole scene would have utilized long, weak diagonals in the lower half. So many angles in the top half unbalanced the long lines of the lower half almost cutting the picture in two.
The tight cropping I decided on below, used the diagonals to move the eye around and around while capturing her wonderful expression.