Fearless Cropping

Mitten Ridge View 12×12 Pastel by Michael Chesley Johnson

A pair of scissors might just be the ultimate painting tool.  When all else fails, cut.

Recently, I found tucked in the back of my storage area a frame that I’d forgotten about.  It’s square, which is a format I don’t often paint in.  (And that’s probably why I had hidden it away.)  Also, the frame held a sheet of glass.  Here, I thought, was an opportunity to dig through my big plastic box of pastel sketches and to frame something nice.

But like I said, I rarely paint in a square format.  And sure enough, search as I did, I found no square pastel paintings.  Was there anything I might crop to a square?

Fresh out of the storage box – the 12×16 version.
This was a plein air painting, and sometimes, we get
careless with composition.

Ah.  I pulled out a 12×16 that featured one of Sedona’s better-known rock formations.  It was a plein air piece, and I’d kept it because I liked the color handling—but I’d never framed it because the composition needed work.

Yes, it’s better cropped

Once I’d put it on the easel, I found that cropping it down to a 12×12 did wonders for the design.  To make it even better, I even reworked the foreground a little.   One of the nice things about pastel is it is so easy to crop and so easy to rework, even years later.

Foreground reworked
The final painting
Mitten Ridge View 12×12 Pastel by Michael Chesley Johnson

Michael Chesley Johnson, AIS PSA MPAC PSNM

Sofrony van Jerusalem : “Ik ben het licht dat in de wereld is gekomen opdat zij die in Mij geloven niet meer in de duisternis verblijft” (Joh 12,46)
Mañana jugaremos tranquilamente