Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stuck in the Middle...

Just a Little Blue is an open studio 20x16 oil by Shirley Fachilla.

For all intents and purposes, she’s smack in the middle of my canvas. Ask any landscape or still life painter; a focal point (i.e. the primary subject is the focal point) shouldn’t be in the middle.

This middle business may be almost always true for landscapes and still lifes, but it isn’t always true for figurative or portrait. If you have a single figure in a symmetrical pose, the figure may work best in the middle.
To create another composition that works as well, I’d have to shift her, crop her almost in half and perhaps leave the other half of the canvas empty. Hmm, then I might have a Degas composition. Very tempting! If you’ve read this blog much, you know I do so love Degas.
This particular subject was inspired by Carolyn Anderson who said that the middle is sometimes the only place for a figure, especially one facing straight toward viewer. (Here are two quite different examples of just what Carolyn was talking about: a Bouguereau and a Chuck Close.)
Though Just a Little Blue isn’t looking at you, she makes up for it by being such a well-balanced girl. And by the way, she wore a black camisole under her white, semi-transparent shirt; it made for an interesting painting challenge.


  1. Thanks so much for your recent comment on my blog, giving me the opportunity to discover your work, just had a delightful tour of your paintings. I took one of Carolyn's workshops a couple of years ago and am still reminded of all she shared with her class. Am heading to your part of Tenn next week, will be spending some time in Monteagle with friends and looking forward to spending time with family later in Memphis. Hope to see more of your work. Happy painting!

  2. Des nuances de bleus qui me plaisent beaucoup jouant avec une grande délicatesse avec la lumière... J'aime le fluide du chemisier de votre personnage. très joli travail.
    Merci pour votre gentil commentaire...
    Gros bisous.

  3. There is such a quality of mystery and richness to your work! This is just stunning! I loved your post as well. Very informative.

  4. I love how you handled the shirt....it is really interesting to look at and convincing in its semi-transparency...

  5. You kept those edges soft! I am sure thinking about them since our workshop. Nice piece.

  6. Thank you, Ann. You will see all the topography Tennessee has to offer on your trip and the state has quite a range. I hope you enjoy your travels.
    Thank you, Martine. Transparency can be fun to attempt in paint.
    Suzanne, what a wonderful compliment. Thank you so much.
    Glad I convinced you, Christine!
    Ann, I know I'm thinking edges all the time!

  7. I like your softness to the figure and the colors. Very nice piece!! (Bet your weather is better than ours!)

  8. Thank you, Mary Anne. Our weather has been crummy, too, but it's finally warming up.


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Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...