Monday Motivator: Don’t Be Dull & Dutiful

Monsieur P painting

“Some of the dullest pictures in the world are done by painters who dutifully observe the rules

“… some of the most interesting have come from artists who … took risks, who daringly tried out concepts and techniques just to see if they might possibly work despite rules.”
— Edward Betts, Creative Seascape Painting, page 46

Know what the rules of painting and drawing are, aim to break them deliberately not inadvertently, and take the time to decide whether it enhances or detracts. All too often it’s how you break the rule, not the mere breaking of it that will determine its success or failure.

Take “though shalt not place a horizon line at the midpoint as it divides a composition in half”. To me, in this painting it doesn’t:

Painting seascape Isle of Skye artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Moods of the Minch: Stillness. 100x30cm. Sold.

I think it doesn’t because of the echo between the band of rocky shore and the band of islands, the band of sea and the band of sky.? The upper half is divided roughly one third islands two thirds sky, while the lower half can be divided in two (counting the rocks and spray as one) or three (sea, spray, rocks). I feel the wider band of sky dominates and distracts the eye from the halfway horizon. I think the proportions of the canvas, so wide to the height, also help as it’s not easy to see both side edges simultaneously (well, in real life, not a small photo!).

Did I do it deliberately? I don’t know, I don’t recall. I only know it’s not where I typically place the horizon. Maybe it’s time I did it again.



6 Replies to “Monday Motivator: Don’t Be Dull & Dutiful”

  1. I have another rule, Say yes and do as you like. If the result pleases you, then it will please somebody else. Even in your depicted painting, the rule of thirds still applies, and this is what we are talking about. If you look closely about a third of the way up the painting, the waves in the foreground separate from the sea itself, and if you look again about a third of the way down from the sky where the clouds separate, there is another ‘line’ This one is not so obvious but it is there. So it works and because it works somebody else thought so too and bought it.
    Also, who was that french artist who kept painting the same mountain, again and again – a different painting every time.

    1. It was C?zanne, and the mountain Mont Sainte-Victoire. A quick bit of online checking says he painted it more than 60 times.

  2. You need to know the rules, or rather guide lines, but you have to know what they are for and why to break them.

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