In fact, if the background is thought of as a totally separate entity, the painting becomes much more difficult.
Agonising over what to do with the background after the subject has been painted, can drive you up the wall. It is easy to ruin a perfectly well executed piece of work, by fiddling with the background, trying first one colour, deciding it doesn't work, then trying another. And another. Nothing seems right. This is because your focus has been on the objects all this time, and the background has been left as an afterthought...while actually, it is just as important as the rest of the image.
Dealing with the "background" usually applies to portraits, and still life images. Somehow, nobody fights with the "background" of a landscape.
So, why not treat objects, and their surroundings, as one fully integrated subject.
This will certainly work for a still life. You do not have to set up a special light box, and then fall back on the boring old "draped cloth behind" Let's face it...how realistic, or natural-looking IS that anyway? Having said that, some artists do make excellent use of the light box idea...take a look at the still life images of Carole Marine. She uses a special shadow-box setup, and often, she looks down on her subject, uses a viewfinder to seek out her composition, crops in hard on the objects and as a result, the objects, the shadows and coloured walls and base of the box are all equally important in terms of shapes within the rectangle.http://carolmarine.blogspot.co.uk/
Here on her blog, on the right, you will see her "shadow box" and then take a look at her simple but beautiful compositions, which make such great use of cropping, and of the shadows cast by the overhead light. Her images are an excellent lesson in the power of cropping...it is interesting that we have no problem with "cropping" a landscape - we are, in fact, forced to do this, because the landscape "goes on" indefinitely, beyond the border of a painting - yet so often a still life is set up in the middle of a table, with plenty of "breathing space" around it, which usually turns into the dreaded "background" problem.
Going back in time, what about this famous work at the top of this blog - the Van Gogh yellow chair. See how he has used the ROOM as his background. Again, with the use of a viewfinder, you can select whatever is behind your subject, and use that as an integral part of the picture.
Here is rather an old one of mine - flowers, fruit...but look at the "background", I didn't have to agonise over it, it was there! Of course, some choice was involved; this would not have been such a nice piece if, for instance, I had put in lots more of the shutter on the right; it might have overpowered the still life setup. I was careful to use my viewfinder, and to begin with a thumbnail sketch to ensure that the balance of the shapes, and the negative as well as positive spaces, felt and looked comfortable.
|Berthe Morisot - Woman with Fan|