The trouble with painting in a pad of lovely watercolour paper is that each painting ends up the same format and size. Sure you might paint one landscape and one portrait, but until you finish that book, they are all identical.
Actually some subjects need to be square; some need to be tall and thin, some need to be wide. If you always consider what you want to get across in a painting, then you will naturally consider size and format. Is it the soaring heights of the mountain, or the amazing detail of a feather? Is it awe at the power of an elephant or joy of a first primrose? These emotional reactions might be heightened by picking a different size and proportion to the norm.
These negatively painted autumn leaves worked on a horizontal format:
This delphinium spire cried out to be tall and thin, didn’t it??
For this reason, I like to buy my paper in loose sheets which forces me to consider size and format for each and every subject.
I therefore was nasty to my class this week and set them the challenge of painting a circular picture – just to shake them up a little. It could be of a circular subect eg a nest. It could be a normal subject, just painted in a circle. It could be a subject adapted and distorted to make the most of the circular format. I didn’t mind. Just no rectangles!
They rose to the challenge beautifully – from a nest of baby squirrels, to the swirl of the Milky Way: