Module 23 — Mood Adjustments

It’s hard to make design choices unless you know what you want the design to accomplish. To help guide your choices, one strategy is to ask, “How would I like this painting to affect the viewer?”

How will our design choices affect our viewers? The more we know about the viewer, the better we can predict. 

It’s hard to design paintings for “everyone”. The more specifically you can pin down who your viewer is and what their mood or state of mind will be when they encounter the painting, the easier it is to make design choices. 

Module 23 Thinking Prompt—Transformations 

For today’s prompt, you can use a painting you are planning to create, or revisit a painting that you’re not completely satisfied with. 

Designing the Viewer’s Journey of Transformation

  • Who is this painting for? What viewers do I imagine seeing it? (That could be you, some specific other person or people, or something like “people coming to this dental clinic”.)
  • How and when do you imagine the viewer encountering this painting? (e.g., “when I walk into my bedroom”, “when they turn around after signing in and move toward the waiting area”)
  • What mood or state of mind do you imagine the viewer will be in just before they see the painting? (e.g., tired from a long day, anxious about upcoming dental procedures)
  • How would you like the experience of viewing your painting to transform, alter or enhance their mood? (e.g. soothe and relax them, pleasantly distract them from worries, energize and motivate them)
  • What sorts of visual qualities are you using, or could you use, to create that effect? (e.g. soft blues and greens in large curved shapes, close values and muted colors with interesting nature-based patterns)
  • Are there certain moods you typically try to evoke with your paintings? Are there others you avoid? Are there moods or emotions that have no place in art? How about in your art? Why or why not? 

What do these answers tell you about how you might want to design (or redesign) your painting?

Module 23—Twiddling the Dials

After you have an idea about who your viewer(s) might be, you also need to explore how visual changes affect the mood of a painting. The best place to start is with your own responses. (Later, you can ask others to describe their experience of viewing various paintings to get more information. Tip: This can be easier to discover if you’re both viewing a painting that wasn’t created by either of you.)

Choose a simple subject, such as a couple of pears, or some other subject that is familiar and simple enough that you don’t need to think much about drawing. Create several sketches based on this same subject, varying your choices of colors, placement on the page, number and arrangement of elements, patterns, values, point of view, and so on. 

You may want to make some notes about what combinations of design choices seem to be most effective for you in creating various moods. (It can be helpful to make note of the ones that evoke emotions you don’t want to emphasize in your art, so you can purposely avoid or minimize them.)

Module 23 Journaling Together Video

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