Thursday, May 16, 2013

Those Rules about 3's

Esprit de Corps is an 11x14 done from life by Shirley Fachilla.
Artists know about the rules of three, mostly because they’re so simple. Divide the canvas into thirds horizontally and vertically to find perfect places for focal points. (The intersections are the focal point possibilities.)
Artists are often also advised to paint threesomes rather than even numbered objects. Rules of three, so simple but…
They really shouldn’t be called rules at all. They are guidelines that work sometimes. For instance, dividing your canvas into three parts vertically and horizontally works when the canvas is a horizontal rectangle (with the longest dimension the horizontal one). It doesn’t work very well with square canvases or portrait rectangles (ones with the longest dimension a vertical). 
Our eyes do find an odd number of objects more pleasing but…
If two objects are grouped so that they form one mass, twosomes can be just as pleasing.
And it’s quite liberating to paint couples. Afterall, three is supposedly a crowd!  


  1. Way to make it work, Shirley! Two figures in a painting can definitely be a challenge, but your advice to make them one mass is an excellent solution.

  2. This is beautifully painted, Shirley. I think you did an excellent job with these two ladies....

  3. This is such a beautiful painting! I think it is one of my favorites!

  4. I always like the elegance of hand positions in your work, Shirley. It's a challenge for me to make them graceful, but you do such a wonderful job of it!

  5. I agree with you , and this twosome is a beautiful example . Very elegant and sweet.

  6. The masters also profess that you must learn the rules only so you can break them. I think when artists follow the rules too closely, their art suffers. I love this painting, and the use of two is perfect!

  7. this is just so elegant and beautifully done! there is so much about it that is perfect!! beautiful!!!

  8. Well, this composition works. Lovely.


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