Recently I have been exploring differently shaped canvases to challenge my increasingly pre-set response to landscape composition. It occurred to me how the dynamics change according to the shape you choose. When it comes to painting in situ, I tend to automatically use a rectangular shape of watercolour paper, yet I don't want 'automatic' responses in my work!
I stretched up a selection of squares and rectangles, and found myself totally out of my comfort zone. Squares seem to demand that you 'break' their calmness and symmetry, and this in itself gives clues as to how to build the composition. I found it literally opened new horizons for me. Rectangles were a bit more familiar, so I tried some longer ones, and then of course you have to make sure your painterly elements link along the entire dynamic. New questions appear, which in turn expand your perception and approach.
In writing this, I'm aware that it may come across as being quite technical and devoid of the emotional aspects of painting. I believe that as a painter, you need to keep evaluating technical and aesthetic issues, in order to find the best expression for your evolving emotional responses to both paint and external factors. The shape of your 'arena' seems to be a huge factor in the presentation of your passion and ideas, and a very exciting one.
(Paintings: 'Autumn Rythms,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 90cm x 50cm. 'Breezy Spring Day,' oil and acrylic, 60cm x 27cm. 'The Hill,' 30cm x 30cm, Oil and acrylic on canvas)