This is my latest entry for Different Strokes from Different Folks. I struggled with this one. Not only is it difficult to invent color, it's difficult to invent a foreground and/or background. Often we wind up doing more inventing than we should. I think you have to be careful with that, but in almost every painting I wind up inventing something. Hey, it's painting, not photography. When I decided to turn this into a 6x9 I knew I would have to invent some sort of foreground in addition to the color. There are several things to think about when you do this.
First, knowledge of your subject helps. What do farms typically look like? From the air we often refer to them as "patchwork quilts," so I decided to divide up the space with rows of shrubs/trees. As I was creating "trees" on my little painting, my husband walked into the studio. "No way would a farmer do that," he said. "How would you get your tractor into the field?" He grew up on a farm in South Dakota, and I grew up near San Francisco. What did I know?
The non-existent farmer in me knew nothing, but the artist in me knew that I needed those trees not only to divide up the foreground into unequal parcels, but also to lead your eye to the focal point. So another method of inventing is to use all those rules of composition, etc. you've been learning. My husband's tractor movement comment was compelling, though, so I scraped and "planted" trees at least six different times. It's best if you can use your knowledge of your subject and art rules, but this time the art rules won and I came back to my original design. Sometimes art just isn't logical, or probably I didn't have enough knowledge of the subject to be able to create an artistically logical solution to the problem.
Inventing some color for the scene was a bit easier since the values were in the black and white photo. But once again, it's art. Do you want a high key painting? Do you want to make it more dramatic and use the entire value scale? What's the mood that you're trying to convey?
It's hard work making all of these decisions, but every time you make a decision and try it out you learn something new to add to your painter's tool kit. Artists refer to this as "problem solving." Typically your non-painter friends refer to this as how much fun you must have getting to paint all day. I usually judge my fun-level by how the painting turns out and today was not too much fun. But I must have learned something, right???