Sunday, January 6, 2008

Compositional Dilemma

I have a compositional dilemma. I had an image that I really wanted to incorporate into a print:

Apparently it's a swallowtail larva. Anyhoo, loved to colours, loved the shapes, and wanted to do something with it. Here's the kiss of death - "something" is not very well defined, and when trying to do a piece, it's usually a good idea to have an overall sense of what you want to do with the composition. Many artists would actually argue that it's essential to have your composition plotted out well before you start the final work. I'm lazy and rarely do that. I just wanted to turn this charming little guy into a reduction print.

I had some interesting light-weight paper that I purchased years ago from Paper-Ya on Granville Island. I believe the printed background are Japanese prayers. Anyway, I thought I might use it as my support for the print. So here's the first result (the overall image is about 7"x5"):

Funny, the scanned image actually looks better than the real life one for some reason! Anyway, from a composition perspective, I think it's pretty weak. I suspect it's because the print is sitting on top of the paper, rather than being part of an overall composition. I thought perhaps adding another element would help. I had a butterfly block (actually, appropriately of an Anise Swallowtail!) from my BC Bestiary that I thought I'd use:

But it seems too big to me, and really doesn't help the composition. So I thought I'd try a smaller one (recut, but the same butterfly I used for Chloe's stamp):

Again, not really adding to the composition. Maybe if I did another reduction cut? I don't know, I'm stumped. Any suggestions? Dave reckons one of the problems is that the larva is not really climbing on anything; but I'd kind of hoped it looked like it was climbing up the text. Hmmm, maybe not.


dinahmow said...

I'm still on "training wheels" with my printmaking, but have you considered a landscape orientation?
It just looked good that way when I tipped my head!

Unknown said...

Well, this post has less to do with printmaking than it does composition - and yes, I did consider it, but dismissed it because the script would be in the wrong orientation. And I've used up all my bits of paper & can't do more prints in a different orientation even if I did have more bits! But I'll flip it and observe for a while, thanks for the suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Hi Amie,

I couldn't put my finger on what to suggest when you initially posted, but once dinahmow suggested a landscape orientation it came to me.

Everything in the first composition is on the verticle, which tends to create tension. When you added the butterfly, it was on the diagonal, adding movement, and it seems appropriate that the butterfly should be the movement element.

But a caterpillar doesn't imply tension very well. So the image and the orientation were sort of in conflict. Perhaps you can still resolve it by using some horizontal element to balance the verticle and diagonal? Even something very subtle? A branch contour?

Unknown said...

Thanks R. I'll certainly think about it and look again. Frankly, it's one that's lost my attention span for now, but I'll file away the suggestion for that time when I decide to pick this up and look again!! :)