Selecting a format: Square or horizontal

Lisa David Art square paintings

Four square paintings. Each with their own compositional challenges, but when 4 small squares make a new square, it’s kinda fun!

 

Square panel paintings have become all the rage.  I started a few years ago when I was doing daily paintings.  Art history is filled with horizontal rectangular landscapes.  It’s the most popular format when painting a landscape.  Oddly, most windows in houses are vertical!  Portrait painters will typically use a vertical rectangle, as a body when sitting is typically taller than it is wide.  And now, with computers, we select landscape format for horizontal and portrait format for vertical. But what if you decide a square? Will you be a square? No, quite the opposite because as Huey Lewis says, “It’s hip to be square”! All kidding aside, let’s consider the square format, pros and cons.

Cons: There are composition challenges to a square format. It is tempting to put your subject right in the middle of a square. Often, people who work from photos use the 3:2 format as that is what a traditional 35 mm ratio is.  Apple phones provides the photographer a few options. If you know you will be painting from a photo (although not recommended), then select the format first. It will eliminate decision making and get you comfortable with the format.

Frames are sometimes difficult to find. We live in a rectangular world where walls and windows are usually rectangular.  I needed a 6″ x 6″ frame quickly and had a really hard time finding one, except online.

A square painting hung alone alone sometimes begs to have a partner. Paired paintings or groupings of square paintings create a nice decor element.

Pros: Personally, I like how the eye travels through a square format. Almost like a Pac-man hitting one side, traveling up to the other and down again. The square feels tight, visually. For still lifes, I think it is almost easier to create a sense of balance in a square format.

Decorators seem to love squares. It is a very common motif used in home design. A single square painting seems to bring a calmness and stability to a place.

I once read that the square is a man-made shape, that not much in nature is square. That’s pretty true. Squares combine to make bigger squares. They have a sense of order and completeness.  How about painting on a square format?  I usually employ the rule of thirds, keeping my focal point at one of the intersections if we drew a tic-tac-toe inside the square. Or, I will keep sky or land in upper or lower third. Unless, I don’t! Sometimes, an image lends itself to a square, like the grouping of trees above. They create a vignette aided by the square format, forcing the viewers eye up to the sky.

Apparently, social media LOVES squares! Instagram-square. Apple icons-square.  We like squares. Squares seem to be very hip at the moment! Who knows what’s next? Circle, get ready…..!

What are your thoughts? Are you a square painter?

Pulp FIction

All Packed

I can still remember the smell of that old suitcase. Imagine all the trips it had been on! This time, it was Frontier Town! “Don’t put that hat in the suit case, you’ll smush it!” Sitting on top of the made bed, this packed suitcase is ready for another adventure!

Blue suitcase with red hat

All packed and ready to go this vintage suitcase has traveled to some, well, ordinary places! Painted in oil, “All Packed” reminds us of the simple days of childhood!

Tub O’ Soda

Tubosoda

Tub O’ Soda, 10″ x 10″ Oil on gessobord

dadlog

lisaraft

Original page from Michne Camping Log, 1971

My father kept our camping log all the years we camped. This page has the story of the day I won the “floating mattress!”

It was July 16, 1971. The perfect summer day as I recall. My father was hosting the annual work picnic. I won a green raft that day for my athletic ability in the egg race! It was my biggest claim to fame as a 9 year old. I remember reaching into a tub of iced cold soda with what seemed like every variety ever invented. It was sheer heaven- all the FREE SODA I could drink! Pull the ring tab- wear it on your finger for a bit before carelessly dropping it somewhere in the grass. Take that long first sip…..ahhhhhhhhhh. Life was good.

 

Who’s Thirsty?

garden hose

Who’s Thirsty? 10″ x 10″ Oil on Gessobord

We didn’t have water bottles- there was no sippy box, pouch or fancy energy drink. If you were outside playing, and you were thirsty, you would simply turn on the spigot, bend down a bit, wait for about 10 seconds until the cold water reached the end of the hose, then take a long, long gulp swallowing, swallowing and swallowing. Of course, you would then offer the hose to the next sweaty, out of breath neighborhood friend. If you were on your game that day, you might remember to turn off the hose. Or, your father might step in  huge puddle and yell out ” Who left the dam hose on?”

Cherry Kool-Aid

cherry koolaid

Cherry Kool-Aid, 10″ x 10″ Oil on Gessobord

Making Kool-Aid was hit-or-miss. First, you had to have packet. Chances are, we didn’t have enough sugar to fill the measuring cup. Next, to find the pitcher- (dump out whatever old drink was brewing in that!) After accidentally snorting the unsweetened powder when you opened it, get your spoon, add sugar, stir, then pray that you would have ice in the ice-cube maker! If all was right with the world, you would have the perfect sugary cup of cherry Kool-Aid. All in a summer’s days work!

Christmas Ribbon Candy

hardcandyYou could always count on a glass dish filled with these little candy treasures at my grandmothers.  The bowl was always strategically placed waiting for our little fingers to sneak 3 or 4 at a time! I would load a few in my pockets and eat on the ride home. It was like eating a  kaleidoscope! Every color  and shape seemed different and more special than the next. The Christmas memories I from being a kids of the 60’s and 70’s  stay with me now as I put out the dish for my nieces and nephews to marvel, and hopefully take a few home for their car ride. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Mom’s Chair

Lisa David daily painting, lawn chair

Mom’s Chair, 6″ x 6″ Oil on gesso board

Mom’s always had “their” chair. They didn’t even have to think about bringing it anywhere. It would just arrive, set up in the prime location-able to see all the action, whether it be at the game, park, concert or picnic. Mom’s chair was always a bit smaller than Dad’s chair. These aluminum chairs served their due, until little by little, the webbing would start pulling, fraying and eventually break. Then, it became the kids chair. Rarely were there enough chairs, if any, for kids. We would be relegated to a blanket. Or a towel. I guess being a Mom had it’s perks…like your own chair.