Harold Farley – owl and jay – nice depth

These two pieces by Harold Farley are great examples of giving a composition a sense of depth and atmosphere. Both of these are wonderful. I’m guessing he is using an airbrush to lay down the foggy backgrounds.



I’ve been wondering why I like some scratchboard images more than others, even if the skill level is high. It must have been subconscious at first when I started becoming uncomfortable with the trend to render a subject and leave it floating on a background of solid black. It’s something I have done with my own work, but as time went by I started wondering why I was doing it.

A possible reason for this trend in scratchboard is that a dramatically-lit subject coming out of the darkness has a “cool” factor that gets comments and kudos – nothing wrong with that. Also, after working so hard rendering the subject, it is nice to consider the work finished and to not worry about the background, especially if you feel you just conquered Everest in the details of the subject alone. Speaking for myself, I think it has to do with risk. When it really comes down to it, there is risk involved in adding background or foreground elements. It takes planning, and it takes time to add that additional level of finish. And yet, in the long run, I see a great deal of value in it. Subconsciously I must have been seeking it out because most of the work I find on the net and talk about in my blog has either a background, or additional elements that fill the composition and make it interesting. I finally became aware of what I was doing in my conscious mind and thought I would write about it.

Not every composition needs a background to be successful, but more and more I appreciate works that use most or all of the space in the composition. I like when a “somewhere” is at least implied, even if the piece is still a vignette.