Painting the background of a composition may sometimes be an afterthought, but if so, that’s a missed opportunity. The background can be its own marvelous, separate painting; even painted in an entirely different style from the main composition. “Lily” has an impressionistic style background that was joyful and freeing to paint, while the foreground subject is heavily textured and detailed, and was a much more focused painting experience.
Because “Lily” is like two different paintings in one, I used the impressionistic background layer to extend the artwork, and completely cover a fashion art dress and matching sheer kimono. Seeing a background layer as not simply a composition task, but as a second painting opportunity, may lead to multiple project uses. Imagining art “repurposed” expands how we create and share art.
In this next example, “I Believe in Santa“, the background is connected to the foreground story. When the background and foreground work together, a more subtle separation between the two may be desired. A flowing story between foreground and background may be achieved by making the background layer seem to recede, while the foreground layer is bold.
Here, there are two receding layers. The snow, which was painted first, (see above video) and then the snow is further defined by the rooftop and a second receding layer- the houses and trees in the village neighborhood below. The effect looks a bit like the Santa/sleigh/reindeer subject is pasted onto the scene, much like the vintage Christmas card that this art was inspired by. When the background is part of the story, the painting process may involve multiple layers and more technique than one might expect in a background.
In the first example, “Lily“, the background and foreground share the same theme. The background is impressionistic in style, featuring closed lilies, while the subject is detailed and textured, featuring a lily in full bloom. In the second example, “I Believe in Santa“, the background is part of the story. In our final example, “Pink Flower“, the background stands alone as an entirely separate work.
“Pink Flower” has three layers. The background layer is an abstract painting, and I wish I’d thought to take a photograph of it before I painted the second layer. The second layer is of leaves, and therefore coordinates with the main subject layer, the pink flower.
When the background is painted as its own layer, it can be a separate finished work from the main foreground layer of the composition. If taking a picture of this layer before the next layer is added, it may even serve as an additional painting print or project design. As a working artist and entrepreneur, I’m open to creative ways to expand not only how to make art, but how to share it. I regret not taking a picture of the abstract painting that was layer one of this piece, “Pink Flower“. It is a lost opportunity that I pledge not to lose in the future.
My life philosophy about regret: regret helps us reach a higher place. When we promise ourselves we’ll apply that lesson when the next opportunity arrives, we are better from it. And that’s why we can proudly say, “I regret nothing!” Regret is merely a temporary condition if we see it as an opportunity, a suggestion. File it away, then let go of it. Be happy, be free, be inspired to be more today than yesterday.