Background Compositional Practice

Hi guys!.. Thought I'd post some of my longer practice drawings I've done lately.. I've been trying to get better at adding background elements to create a more interesting and fully fleshed out composition while still keeping it all fresh and gestural.. Though I do like minimalist artworks where a subject can basically be the only element in the composition (e.g. an apple with a completely white background). I also love works that utilizes background surroundings to enhance and strengthen the composition of the whole, bringing in interest and depth to the piece. These compositional background elements need not be even barely recognizable, almost abstract in nature in fact, but they can really enhance the mood and narrative of the piece. 

This is a skill I admit I have neglected to develop, and will be focusing on more in my future works. Thus in striving to hone the compositional perception needed I'm making sure to include this element in my long pose figure drawings. This will usually means improvising and sometimes completely making up the backgrounds, but is all part of building the skills needed..

Here are a few of my latest..
Charcoal pencil on newsprint / Size: 11.5 x 9 Inches / More info or purchase at Untitled Nude D22
The arch in the background was completely made up, and minor tonal variety in the background is enough to suggest depth, mood and interest while supporting and still maintaining the focus on the figure.

Charcoal Pencil on Paper / Size: 9.6 x 15.5 Inches / More info or purchase at The Unwinding

The image I referenced for this figure already included some elements of interest, like the wine glass, chair and stand. For this piece is was more a question of what needed to be included or omitted in creating a strong composition. As you can see the lower half fades away leaving quite a lot of space in the lower half of the composition. This space leads the eye gradually into the piece, suggesting depth and a foreground. The background arch was once again manufactured and creates even more interest and narrative while leading the eye once again towards the focus of the piece.

Every mark needs to add to the piece or be discarded and I love practicing in a manner that requires me to work and think of all these factors quickly and with minimal ability to erase or change.. Thus each mark has to be made conscientiously and is really great training.. 

I'll be sure to post my next attempts in oil soon!.. 

Thanks for dropping by guys!..


  1. very wonderful studies! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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