Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Finding the Square Within

A Flora for a Roma is a 14x11 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla.

Inside every rectangle is a square. Well, of course, you can find many squares. But the one I’m referring to is the square whose sides are the same length as the short side of the rectangle.
As illustrated by the dashed line inside the rectangle below:

This sort of square is called a rabatment. Why this lesson in geometry?
Simple. If you put the major elements of your painting within the rabatment, you will have taken a big step toward a good and interesting composition. Cassatt used rabatments as did Winslow Homer and most especially Degas.   Rabatment explains some of Degas’ most elegant designs, those wonderful ballet studio paintings where empty floor space takes up a third or more of the canvas. 

Elements outside the rabatment often lead the viewer’s eye into the square and should be secondary to those contained within the square portion. There are many interesting things an artist can do with rabatment. With A Flora for a Roma, I’m just beginning to explore.



  1. Bonjour chère amie,

    Un sujet très intéressant que celui-ci. Moi qui suis une autodidacte complète ! j'apprends mais je ne suis pas certaine d'être une bonne élève car je travaille tellement à l'instinct et me laisse guider par mon ressenti et mon oeil !...

    Une très jolie composition aux couleurs très harmonieuses.

    Gros bisous ✿❀✿

  2. Such an interesting post, Shirley! Definitely a wonderful composition and beautiful painting!! I love Cassatt and Degas and have quite a few of their books which I will be looking at again!!

  3. Shirley, this is fascinating. I have never heard this term nor about the concept till now. How interesting! I'm going to look at paintings differently now, especially some of the masters, and I certainly will try this in my artwork. Thank you!

  4. So very interesting and informative Shirley! Thank you! I also do love this piece! I love all your art! Your paintings always have great mood, atmosphere and emotion! Subtle wonder!

  5. Love this post, very interesting. I'm going to spend some time looking through my art books to study more fully the technique of rabatment and some of my favourite artists, Degas and Cassat. Thanks for this post. And of course I also love this piece with the scissors leading the eye in. Well done.


Is it too early to send an invitation?

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