Way, way up

Yikes, I’ve run out of my favourite square blocks of Fluid paper. I’ve grown to love the square format for sketches. I bought a block of a different format (9″ x 12″) but I just don’t like it as much. What is it about the square format that makes it so pleasing to work with? Is it the symmetry of the format? Is it because the square makes it easy to divide the space up on the page? Or is it because it’s the perfect frame for a composition? An artist whose work I love, and who uses square formats so successfully is Susanne Strater. Have a look at her wonderful pastels and the way she so effectively composes her pictures.

If you have a bit more time, check out a guest post I did on Doodlewash. Thanks so much Charlie O’Shields for featuring me on your wonderful blog!


20 Comments on “Way, way up”

  1. I love square formats. I’m not sure why; the architect in me? Or is it that there is little influence by direction?


    • That’s a good description too. For me, with a rectangular format there always seems to be a bit of paper that is unnecessary. As a graphic designer I have always loved designing square format brochures. I love breaking up the square into smaller squares for text or photos and in graphic design we often use the golden section. Maybe it is the same with architecture.


  2. Gayle says:

    Thank you for the link to Charlie’s site (I’ve subscribed as a result). I’ve never used a square format yet, but I have a 3′ X 3′ canvas that is begging for attention! I have a feeling that this format may be good for impactful subject matter where perhaps the focal point takes up most of the composition……that’s just a guess though.


  3. Alison says:

    I know what you mean. There is something about the square format. Even the iPad now offers square photo framing. And remember Polaroids? They were square. And two squares make a great landscape format, or a tall vertical. A square divides equally into 9 squares…. But what about the golden rectangle? Regardless, I love what you do with any format!


  4. Monique says:

    Great! I have to start my squares..I think I did one..

    I bought mine at Curry’s.


  5. Richard Lee says:

    You simply blow me away with your work, Shari. It is so good and appears effortless. I know you work hard to make it look that way. I really admire your talent.


  6. M. L. Kappa says:

    I like square too. Still love the picture, though!


  7. Anders says:

    Will be taking your class sketching the city within a couple of days,so excited cannot wait.i’m having trouble doing this overlap of a roof with a shadow underneath,i’m copying the picture but i have trouble sometimes getting something to look 3d,and not seeing how the person did it is puzzling.i hope you do more classes some day,or maybe i could hire you to move in to my home and give me lessons until i can paint like you haha.


  8. TonyU says:

    Hi Shari. Your sketches always look great whatever the format. Silly question maybe …. but do you have a thing about sticking with the page format whatever it is, maybe for the challenge? Or do you ever draw a square frame on a rectangular page? Best, Tony


  9. Anne Percival says:

    Which size square format IS the one you prefer Shari? These are finally available in Manchester!

    Sent from somewhere over the rainbow


  10. rosjenke says:

    I just love the way you break the so called “rules” with the power pole smack bang in the middle. It makes me want to peek each side and look down that road. Fabulous composition.
    And I’m so proud to have previously featured on Charlies blog along with one of the “big brushes”, not quite in the same league though : )


  11. andre savard says:

    I like your sky,
    And the long shadows are very dramatic.


  12. Cheryl says:

    My sister and her husband were purchasing some art supplies for me at a great store near them in NC. She picked up some Fluid sketchbooks and her husband asked “What about getting her a square one. She HAS to have a square one”. He is an engineer. I think there is something to the mindset of engineers!


  13. Love this sketch, Shari! The perspective is fabulous… I still can’t get over how you make electricity poles as beautiful and interesting as trees! 🙂 And I agree… there’s just something really fun about working with a square format. I was using 6×9 Fluid blocks early on and masking them off to a square window. hehe. Thanks for the link to Susanne… such beautiful work. And thanks so much for the kind words and the mention. I was thrilled to feature you and your wonderful work on Doodlewash!! I hadn’t really touched watercolors before taking your Craftsy course last summer, so thank you again for inspiring me with your wonderful class!


  14. The Doodlewash piece has all my favorite pieces in it! And thank you for the link to Susanne’s work! There’s something about the square format that reminds me to compose more than a rectangular format: I think of rectangles as how I see, uncropped, but square are more obviously cropped views…


  15. Dianne Waite says:

    Hi Shari
    And what about including UK artist Ian Sidaway to your list? He’s another fine exponent of square format composition. Extremely focussed and pleasing to the eye.


    • Hi Dianne, I love Ian Sidaway’s work but had never realized that so many of his paintings are square format. I look at them and become mesmerized by all the branches. Thanks for reminding me to take a look. Of course, I love his ink drawings as well.


  16. Susanne says:

    Thank you Shari for mentioning my paintings in your blog! The feeling is mutual – I love what you do and how eloquently you describe it!


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