Cropping a painting, sometimes less is more, sometimes not

contemporary landscape painting by Carolee Clark

© Carolee Clark, “Late Summer,” detail, acrylic on paper, 7″ x 7″

One of my favorite things to do is go through old paintings and get rid of them.  Clear out clutter to make room for new things.   It is cathartic and feels wonderful.

It also gives me new ideas.  I’ll look at a painting in a new way since I usually haven’t seen the piece in a while and I’ve released my attachment to it.

These old paintings don’t actually take up much room as they are on paper, but they do take my time and energy.  They take time when I am looking through them for a particular piece or when I am cleaning or moving things.

I started ripping up this painting (full sheet, acrylic on paper, circa 2005) and realized that I liked the half that I was holding.  Then I took a little 7″ x 7″ frame and separated this core of the painting.

Which do you like better, the cropped piece or the half sheet?  I do have an opinion, but I’d love to hear what you think!

contemporary landscape painting by Carolee Clark

© Carolee Clark, “Late Summer,” acrylic on paper, 22″ x 16″

This final version is from Susan Brehm’s suggestion which might be the best crop yet!

© Carolee Clark, "Late Summer" 22" x 7"

© Carolee Clark, “Late Summer” 22″ x 7″


16 responses to “Cropping a painting, sometimes less is more, sometimes not

  1. Smaller piece is more powerful visually and really grabbed me.

  2. Okay Susan, you have me intrigued, so I’ll do it and then post it too 🙂

  3. I like the cropped version, although I would also like it cropped that width in that spot but the full length of the half sheet. I think that would have more depth. 🙂

  4. Wow, this is so interesting. I think that the opinions are totally split down the middle (including some that commented on FB). Thanks so much for your input!!

  5. I’m a sculptor making a transition to painting. I’m finding out that many of my watercolors are better cropped. I plan on cutting two corners from some matte board so I can adjust the opening at will to experiment before cutting anything down. Sometimes I can get more than one painting out of a larger one. (I like your cropped one better too.)

  6. Carolee,
    I am partial to the top half of your painting. I usually ask myself-does this part of the painting need to be here to tell this story? I believe your story takes shape with the top part of the image. I appreciate your style and work! Love your diligence!

  7. Hi, Carolee,
    I like the smaller version. I feel as though I’m looking at the scene from a closer spot! Love your work!

  8. I totally like the cropped version. I like to sguint my eyes and look at a painting to see if the shapes and values grab me. In the case the small piece works for me.

  9. It looks like the opinions are split in half, just like your original painting. I prefer the half sheet and feel that it is a stronger composition. Also it gives enough space for the colors to work together. …I like to go through old paintings too…I sometimes crop for cards …and sometimes I just paint over the whole darned thing! Honor

  10. I like the larger, half sheet piece. Your traditional zigzag entry works really well. In the cropped version the abstraction is nice but lacks the strength of design. It isn’t quite abstract enough to work for me.

  11. I prefer the simplicity of the small crop. There is plenty of movement and somehow it is more abstract, which I like.

  12. I vote for the half sheet!!

  13. Hi Carolee, I liked your original, full-sized painting, because it draws me into the depths of the scene and shows rolling hills, with a grove of trees tucked at the bottom backed by distant mountains. Without this perspective, the 7×7 comes off looking like Kansas or Iowa’s flatness. I love the contours in your work!

  14. I like the cropped version best. It has much more energy and makes me want to know more about the structure and the mysteries it may hold. You have inspired me to put (or try to put) all my old
    paintings in one spot and evaluate, sort out and recycle one way or another. Thanks for sharing your work and insights.

  15. Hi Carolee, I like the half sheet, larger crop. I think it benefits from the repetition of line and change of direction. Fun to find a new work in the drawer!

  16. Hi Carolee, I do like the smaller, close-up version… dynamic abstract qualities!

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