Thursday, March 21, 2013

Following the Light

A Rose Is a Rose, Is a Rose* is an 11x14 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla. 

I really like edgy, unexpected compositions like those of the Impressionist Degas. An especially striking example is his painting, La Coiffure. It’s of two women; one is combing the other’s hair. 
Two-figure compositions are difficult, especially when the figures are separate (as these are). In the painting, there’s no overlapping or visual connection.  Though the hank of hair stretching across the canvas does join them, Degas obliterates that connection by painting the hair and its background the same color and value. Instead of following the flow of hair from one woman to the other, our eyes follow their long pale arms, a much more interesting path.  
Because La Coiffure is virtually a monochromatic work done in reds, those arms, white apron and tablecloth become light pathways that lead the viewer through the painting. The faces (almost always a focal point for us humans) become instead casual pauses along the path of light.
Now how does my painting relate? I created a very straightforward light path from one side of my canvas to the other. Follow the light along the vases and rose to my lady and then travel back again via the pale tabletop.
*My title is a quote from the great art patron, Gertrude Stein.
[If clarification is needed for composition, monochromatic, value, please see the Artful Definitions page.]  


  1. Beautifully painted, Shirley!! Wonderful brush work and perfect light..

  2. Lovely study with interesting light, Shirley. I like the way you've portrayed the scene with simple shapes to give the brain lots to consider.

  3. Wonderful post, Shirley, and very informative. I can see the use of the light "path" in your lovely painting, and I understand the rationale. Excellent point to help me in planning my paintings!

  4. It's a gorgeous and interesting composition , love the not obvious scene !


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