When the Background Needs to go Away

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.

30 Paintings in 30 Days, days 24 & 25

AtTheParkLRThis is a scene from the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California. In an unlikely location, in the middle of a residential area, I never realized all that lay behind  those giant metal gates. Sweeping grounds with remarkable flower gardens and several art galleries, one of which houses Gainsborough’s famous Blue Boy.

Despite the crowds at the art exhibits, some quite places like this bench, could be found in out of the way places, which is where I took the photo for this painting. A study in greens my palette was Cad. Yellow Light, Cad. Yellow Medium, Cad. Red Deep, Permanent Green Light, Cobalt Blue and Ivory Black.

AtTheFairLRThis is a scene from the San Diego County Fair. We find ourselves there almost every July as John enters his furniture in the Design in Wood Show. The livestock exhibition is something I always look forward to.

This painting  gave me the opportunity to lay some heavy paint in the straw area for extra texture.