Too often the painter sees only the objects in front of him or her and paints what he or she *thinks* she sees.
Hello? Wait a minute! We are here to make artwork . . .that is to tune all the parts of a painting so that it arrests the viewer instantaneously. One of the ways that happens is to pay close attention to the darks and lights in a painting and arrange them into large shapes . . . . .that is to tie the darks together . . .or tie the lights to form big abstract shapes that will form a composition of values (lights and darks). This sort of attention to the pattern that is formed by the darks and lights leads to unexplainable abstract shapes that sit nicely, in an attractive way, into the rectangular shape of the canvas or paper. It is the relationship of the placement and the comparison of those large shapes to the rectangle that grabs a viewer.
If you think about it, this is really the basis for very good abstract paintings. . . . . .it is all about composing a great ratio of light within a dark matrix, or, the opposite, putting darks within a light valued matrix.
We are frequently misled by color . . . .that is that color so often resonates with us on an experiential level that we are not conscious of the fact that color has value . . . .that is that a blue can be very dark, or can be wispy light . . .or most other colors (save yellow) can do the same thing.
In the above painting, there is a strong difference in the value of the light and shadow parts of this painting. The painter can train themselves to think in terms of light and shadow, instead of values, in order to be able to make the creative steps to connect things to form larger shapes. Such was the case in “Roussillon Repast” above. While the subject of the painting under the umbrellas is what the painting is about, it took the surrounding light to emphasize that part of the painting so it would stand out in a dramatically compelling way. I have added a black and white version of the painting so the viewer can see the relative differences of light and dark and how the darks are connected to form a big compositional shape.