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Painting Tips - Get your proportions right
May 07, 2009

Get Your Proportions Right

In a conversation I had recently with Gill Van Wyk the regular tutor on South African Painting Holidays she explained her easy steps to get your proportions correct.
She said that drawing and sketching outdoors you have limited tools to rely on and the one best tool, your pencil, is used to enable you get the correct proportions when plotting your painting.

To get your proportions right use your thumb and pencil and any vertical marker in the landscape which you have decided to paint i.e. a straight tree, a fence pole or light pole or any other vertical in view.

  • With arm outstretched and gripping your pencil between your finger and thumb, mark the length of the vertical line chosen.

  • Now measure the height of the subject matter in relation to this measurement on your pencil. The length of the line (the mark) on your pencil is now the unit of measure. Use this unit as a guide for all your measurements for this painting.

  • Now measure how many times your pencil measurement fits into the height of the picture. If you are including buildings make sure you measure them in relation to the surrounding trees and mountains.

  • Look for a focal point to place in your picture i.e. a large broken tree or a waterhole or simply a pathway leading into the picture, be sure not to place this in the centre of the page, always remember the basic rule of composition, and ensure that there is sufficient contrast between light and dark to make the focal point easily distinguishable.

Make careful observations regarding the relationship between building, trees, mountains and streams or any other important feature.

Tip 2 remember
Landscape painting is generally divided into a simple
one third for sky
one third middle distance
one third foreground
This may sometimes change if you wish to make the painting mainly about the sky, as the sky may be very dramatic taking up two thirds of the format and thereby minimizing the importance of the foreground.

Warm Regards,
Your Holiday Director

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