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Weighing Your Canvas

September 5, 2017

I know it's been a while since the last post, and I do apologize for the absence. For those of you following along, the previous post stated that next, I'd been discussing the weight of your canvas. 

When hearing the phrase "weight of the canvas" one might assume that we are literally talking about the physical weight. In reality, when we talk about the weight, we are discussing the COLOUR weight; as in the heaviness or lightness our eyes perceive. 

Take for example, the painting: PINWHEEL

The colours used here that are dominant are classified as "light" and "open." When we paint with lighter hues we perceive them as physically being light. Examples of "light" colours include: yellow, orange, red, light blue, etc. 

When looking at this canvas, we see a lot of colour on the right hand side. Our eyes are immediately drawn to this area making it the focal point of the painting. When looking at this particular image, you may feel that you need to tilt your head to the side to accommodate the additional weight of what you are looking at. This is the WEIGHT of the canvas. We offset the colours on the left hand side with additional darker brushstrokes to even out the canvas so it doesn't look slanted. You'll note that the colour choices on the upper left side of the pinwheel are significantly lighter than those used on the bottom right, again, this is to encourage a colour balance on your canvas. 

When we tackle a painting (especially if it's during an event that I'm teaching) we can choose any colour, any brushstroke pattern, and design, that we'd like. However, it is important to keep in mind that darker colours are heavier on the eyes.

For example, the painting: ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

In this painting, there is a substantial amount of darkness (the logic here being that we'd like to highlight the full moon). If we were to bring the black bottom of the painting up to the middle, the painting would be off-balance and bottom heavy. When hung on a wall, the top portion of the painting may look like it's coming forward. This is what happens when we perceive heaviness on a canvas. 

It is important to have a balance of light and dark, and elements equal on top, bottom, left and right portions of the canvas. 

I do like to encourage everyone to experiment with their colour choices and to determine brushstrokes and balance for themselves. It is important to learn the basics, but it is equally important to practice and learn what works best for you. 


In the next post, we'll discuss complementary colours. 


Paint on, my friends. 

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