Wednesday, November 11, 2009

choice of format

Format- why do we choose what we choose? In the comments of my last post Sam noted that a vertical has more depth and suggests more sense of place. Marianne shared that a 2:1 ratio has been favored by many of her collectors and Doug suggests that the subject matter dictates the format.  Check out their blogs to read more of their interesting ideas. Richard McKinley, the pastel god, talks and writes about it often. Here is a link to one of his discussions about format, the painters window, on his blog- here.
I agree with all of them and would like to add one more thought. For me, choice of format is a decision based in emotion and the desire to portray a concept.  A simple view: a rectangle is calming and a vertical is dynamic (think about some of those amazing Japanese vertical prints).
Long ago when completing my MFA I wrote my thesis on the idea of format and its power. I will have to try to dig that document up some day and see what I thought back then.  Throughout my painting career my favorite format has been a square. I like the tension that is inherent in the square. It is neither rectangle nor vertical. It is a challenging format to use, but very rewarding. You the painter decides.

Look at the 4 paintings above, a long horizontal, a square , a long vertical and a standard rectangle. What do you think? How does each make you feel or work for you?

On another note: Today is not a painting day. Instead I sit in the hospital waiting room nervously waiting for news of my husband's surgery He had hip replacement surgery this morning. A man, still in his 40s, Paul's genetic predisposition and his years of long distance running and soccer has torn up both his hips. Send some good thoughts for a speedy recovery for my man.


Karen said...

Really interesting thoughts on format. I know I always tend towards horizontals...vertical incite some weird sort of anxiety in me, like I feel hemmed in or something. Squares are so wonderful too, I especially like them the more abstract the piece is.
Best to you and Paul! I'm thinking of you. Take care of both of you.

RRoseman said...

Good luck to Paul!My husband had his hip replaced at 50, several years ago-he can't wait to do the other one-The first few weeks are difficult- it helps to get long handled reachers,shoe horn, pants that are really easy to get on and off- lots of good books and old movies and it goes by pretty quickly (in my other life I am an Occupational therapist!)
RE format-my favorite is the panoramic-don't know why-perhaps because with landscapes it is nice to see the scope of the horizon

neetzy said...

Very interesting post. I too think about formats. I do enjoy the square, but sometimes I think I am so rectangular minded that my square paintings seem squished. I do like the exaggerated horizontal, but haven't tried to many verticals. Hmmm. Now I want to!

I hope your husband gets better!

Double "D" said...

Good thoughts and wishes for a speedy recovery are on there way to Paul. Everyone I know with hip replacement have had excellent success and recovery.
Take care Paul.

Loriann, you're so right about format. It's very personal and part of a desire to explore new ways to heighten the excitement of their painted subjects.

My views sometimes lean to heavily on my past commercial history. I'm still going back and trying to remember how I thought as a student. Wow, not sure that's even possible.

I like the extreme horizontal and in this instance, I like the extreme vertical because of the way the subject works with this format. Umm, there it is again. For me it's the subject that attracts my attention.

Your PB

Brian McGurgan said...

Best wishes for a successful and speedy recovery for Paul, Loriann, and positive thoughts for both of you as you cope with his getting better.

I favor a square format these days. As Karen noted above, it seems a natural format for more abstract pieces and I'm gradually headed in that direction with my work - still representational but more suggestive than specific.

NJ ART 73 said...

Loriann- my prayers are with you & your family
Regarding format- I find that as artists we tend to choose certain formats . For whatever reasons
I prefer to work on 11/14, 12/12, 12/16, 20/24 for example
Every now & then it is good to pick a different size just to shake things up. I also like 8/10 , 18/24, 24/24 , 20/30 & 22/28. For my landscapes I usually work on a more intimate view rather than the far away scene. I find it interesting why artists gravitate to certain size canvases or paper sizes. I have not been a fan of 9/12 and quite frankly I do not know why. Certain other size canvases, 10/12, 12/24, 10/20 and 15/30 I find to present interesting design possibilities. Windsor "Newton makes what the call "marine size" canvas that are perfect for panoramic landscapes. The reason to shake things up is that on a subconscious level if an artist keeps working on certain sizes without having a change the mind goes to automatic design solutions. The problem that artists such as yourself have, Loriann is that when painting on paper on non "standard" size formats can lead to some expensive framing costs.Of course some of the canvas sizes that I like are not "standard" and unless I select a metal frame the expense could be as expensive as if I had a painting on paper and decided to mat it under glass. Each of the paintings that you have presented work in the format selected. I especially like the painting in the lower right hand corner
Wishing your husband Paul a speedy recovery

Anonymous said...

For me I guess it all goes back to the concept. The why in the creation of the painting. Perhaps since I do tend towards "vertical" landscapes most of the time, I bring a bias to the landscape in attempting to capture its strength, even in its quietness.

Speaking of vertical, hope Paul gets there real soon.

Janelle Goodwin said...

This is great food for thought - you're making me really think about this one. I usually paint using a horizontal format. I wonder if it's a personality thing. But it's interesting seeing all your work in different formats.

Here's wishing for a speedy recovery for Paul. Take care of you too!

loriann said...

Hi everyone and thank you for all your kind wishes and astute remarks.

Karen, Yes you are right, I think I have only seen you in a horizontal. I can't remember a vertical ever...maybe one close to a square. It's funny how you describe feeling hemmed in. Makes me more certain that there is an emotional component.

Hi RRoseman I read your comment to Paul. He's ready to get better fast. The long horizontal- the panoramic, you are right it is comforting to see the whole horizon.

Hi neetzy and thanks for sending your thoughts. You seem to share Karen's feelings of squished or hemmed in. Interesting.

Hey PB..sounds like you like the it the subject matter... or pushing the idea? Thanks for your wishes for Paul.

NJ, thanks for your well wishes. You are so right about framing costs. I have decided to pick a certain number of my odd sizes and stick to about 5 non standard formats to help with this. Sounds like you have it down to a science. I wonder why it is you don't like the 9x12???

Hi Marianne, sounds like you are the first to like verticals most... any idea why? Is it only the concept or more? Speaking of vertical..they already have Paul walking!!!! (with a walker...still!)

Hi Janelle, I have noticed the horizontal is your fave. Why do you think? Paul and I thank you.

Anita Stoll said...

My best thoughts and wishes go out to Paul for a speedy recovery.

Re: formats. While I have painted in all three formats, I prefer the good old rectangle most of the time. Like you said if I want drama I go for the verticle. My landscapes seem so much more appealing in a rect format. And my sales proves this is the one to stick with.

Anonymous said...

In answer to your query, I guess I love the landscape but I am a type A personality so I love the energy. Verticals give me my voice on both fronts!

Happy to hear Paul is up and moving. I can relate having broken my pelvis in 3 places from an equestrian accident a number of years ago. Healthcare providers have no mercy when it comes to "get up and get movin'.

B Boylan said...

Send my well wishes to your sweetie. Will he be able to run once again?

On to format~ I love the square. It is symmetrical, challenging and foremost odd. I prefer it over any other, but horizontal and vertical always in fashion when the view fits!

Jala Pfaff said...

Oh no, I feel terrible that I'm late in reading this news! I hope everything goes wonderfully for his recovery!

Jala Pfaff said...

P.S. In art school we did an interesting exercise of having to rapidly leaf through art magazines and just rip out anything we liked, without giving it really more than a second of thought (preferably less)--i.e., just immediate gut instinct without any analysis. Later on we went through our big piles and actually analyzed a lot of different aspects of the art we'd chosen. One of the aspects was vertical vs. horizontal. That was such an eye-opener for me, to realize that I almost always create in vertical, myself. Very interesting.

Jala Pfaff said...

P.P.S. Of the formats of your paintings posted here, I love the square most, and second-most I love the really long horizontal.

Jala Pfaff said...

P.P.P.S. I forgot to reply to you about PastelMat. At first I didn't like it, but now I think for a certain kind of painting (e.g., my Moroccan series) it's great. What about you?

loriann said...

Hi Anita and welcome back. I am curious, why do you feel your landscapes are more appealing in the rectangle?
Paul thanks you!

Interesting idea;meets both needs.
Sorry to hear about your bad equestrian, that sounds awful.You are so right about "get up and get moving" attitude of the providers!

Hi Brenda!
Thanks from Paul and yes he hopes to run, ski, and hike again. the one thing he won't do is soccer.
I see we share a love for the square. Don't you think that because it is neither rectangular or vertical we have the power to make it?

Hi Jala!
What an interesting exercise you did in art school I have never heard of that one! Have you ever considered why is it you love the vertical?
Thank about the paintings. Paul sends thank you for the well wishes.
As to pastel mat I tried a couple sheets that Robyn and Craig at Dakota had kindly given me. I loved it vibrant white color and the way it took an underpainting. The thing I can see I will need to work through is the way it holds the pastel (and doesn't let it go) It means a slightly different way of working. When i run out of Uart I will order both. What do you feel are its' strengths?

cheers everyone!