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A Wee Bit of Background…

I spoke to an artist once, one who in my opinion was extremely good, and to my surprise, they made a comment that “Backgrounds were a waste of time!” After I picked my chin off the floor, wiped the drool of it, and placed in in close proximity to where it was originally, I couldn’t help but question that statement. Backgrounds, to this artist, play an interesting yet profound part in the development of the subject. The background lends to creating the ‘feeling’ around a subject, and also lends credence to the subject. The background also helps tie the subject to the surface, rather than having it floating around like some shipwrecked sailor. The background, in most cases, can be subtle and at times abstract, however if it is part of the overall story that is being portrayed, then it needs to detailed. I have often looked at some piece of fine art and all I saw was perhaps a field of wheat, or a farm with barn, and yet when I look at the title, it says something like “Owl at rest”, or “Red winged blackbird in flight”. I think to myself, “What?” and I go back and STUDY the work…and after some time, I locate the SUBJECT in the BACKGROUND. But initially, I assumed the background WAS the subject. However without the background, the subject would have been stark and out of place, without the softness of the background allowing the subject to melt into it. Having said this, I believe that the background really is necessary in most settings. They allow a subject to be truly 3D in a 2D world.

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