I've just discovered you and I love your work! Would you mind sharing your approach to composition and thought process on it? Are there any artists you reference? Thank you!
Hey! you found me! Thanks!
I reference from photos for stuff I can’t visualize on my own, and artists like bouguereau, rockwell, leyendecker, mucha for mind fuel
Whenever I do a piece, the objective I have in mind is to not get bored, because once I lose interest, I lose the piece.
So for me, the composition has to be distinct enough to avoid echoing an early piece, and to immediately be recognized due to its layout. It’s gotta be new for me, and new things are fun and exciting, right? (yes they are)
I think about the subject, the action, the actual format (whether it’s allegorical, objective, subjective, i.e. is it a symbolization, a certain scene, would you find it in real life? I tend to avoid the latter, because I find it dull and uninteresting and I hhhhhhhate that) I place priority on the human form, it’s versatile and expressive more than anything else, in my opinion.
Here’s an example. Normally I don’t post my sketches since they’re just glorified chicken scratch, but this is the best example I could think of at the moment. It’s St. George (for my series sanctus), and normally, you’d see him like this
(Saint George and the Dragon by gustave moreau, 1889-1890 )
(Saint George and the Dragon by raphael, 1504-1506)
It’s a pretty common depiction, since it goes back to medieval times. The similarities are that he’s on a horse, he has a spear/lance, there’s a dragon, and he’s attacking it.
The big picture (haha pun) is that I wanted to also have my subject be st george (side note, it’s kind of the theme of the series), but different enough from past artworks where I’d know it wasn’t enormously reminiscent of the traditional depiction. So I aim to keep the basic idea, and see what goes on from there.
This is the first sketch I did, it was okay, I knew I’d never drawn anything like that, which is good, but composition was lacking. I wasn’t so hot about this, so I dropped it.
I kinda like it so I might revisit it . Additionally, though, it strayed a little too far from the main idea.
Above was the second sketch, after I’d finished roughing it out, I knew immediately it wouldn’t do. I was satisfied for about 2 seconds, then I got disappointed and stayed that way.. If I put it side by side with the other million or so paintings of st george, I doubt I could tell it was mine. It was practically the same: horse, lance, dragon. The action was too similar to other portrayals.
It’s not as similar as the previous one was, but I didn’t like it. That’s a good indicator too, whether you like it or not. I’d tried to fuse the first and second sketch because I did like the first one somewhat, but it didn’t really work for me. It’s just so awkward …
So I left the piece for a while, and came back and did this. It was different, simpler (which can improve a piece more often than not), and I liked it. After I did most of the sketch, I said great job u idiot it only took you a week to come up with a sketch the hell is wrong with u, went to bed, and woke up happy, and normally it doesn’t take me 3 actual sketches or something to come up with a good piece, and I was getting pretty fed up before the last sketch, but good thing I didn’t give up (this time. hah) This is basically how I go about my pieces for now.
tl;dr Don’t give up! (haha I lied, go back and read)