“I can’t decide what to paint – there’s just so much landscape!” Relate to this? As an instructor, I hear this all the time. The easiest solution to this landscape overwhelm? Use a viewfinder!
A viewfinder is a tool that helps an artist focus on a specific area. Rather than taking in an entire scene, the viewfinder enables you to frame parts of it, isolating areas rather than being distracted by everything. For example, a viewfinder can help you zero in on a tree-lined horizon or the sun-lit path in the foreground, rather than being overwhelmed by everything. And, using a viewfinder can help you compose a more intentional and stronger painting.
I like the ViewCatcher. It’s small, durable, and easy to use. There are others available and of course, you can make your own.
How to use a viewfinder
Closing one eye, place the viewfinder up to your open eye and look through it at the scene you want to paint. Move the viewfinder around slowly until something catches your eye. When that happens, take time to look at different ways to crop the scene. Remember to change the position of your arm which changes the view (more distant or closer).
As you do this, you may find a number of scenes to paint. Don’t let that stop you!! Pick the one that pulls you back even if you don’t understand why. And then get painting!
Cropping the scene
To illustrate what I mean, I’ve taken a photo and then cropped it in various ways to show you some of what’s possible. I’ve kept my options to a basic rectangle but of course, you can choose other formats.
Let’s have a look:
Although I’m cropping a photo, I’m sure you can imagine how this would be extremely helpful on location in front of the real thing!
Which crop is your favourite?
I hope that this has been helpful in showing you how to use a viewfinder to crop a landscape. Remember, take your time, and don’t be afraid to experiment – it’s all part of the fun! With a little practice, you’ll be surprised at how much this simple tool can help you improve your paintings. It’s such an easy way to crop out distractions and simplify the scene so that you can focus on what’s important.
Meet the winner of the Outstanding Pastel Award in the July Boldbrush Contest
Speaking of landscapes, take a look at Jean Myers’s winning pastel.
Jean is an artist living in Southern California. She holds a Signature Membership with the Pastel Society of the West Coast. Her interest is in exploring light and colour.
Jean writes: “My creativity was nurtured growing up in Missouri with animals and nature in abundance. I paint outdoors when I can and that is an ongoing pursuit that gives me great joy. There is nothing like standing in nature and observing beauty with great focus for several hours. It changes you for the better.”
I couldn’t agree more!
And that’s it for this time…
Vertical #4 crop. I love a fun foreground! I would leave out some of those stones and maybe move the big rocks but #4 would be fun to paint.
Oh yay! Thanks for your vote Sandi. I’m curious to know what you might do with it. You have my full permission to use it!