What’s a good approach to take when ramping up the drama in an existing painting?
Drama is a word often used when referring to contrast. So if you want to add more drama to your picture, simply add more contrast! But it won’t be as easy as adjusting a Photoshop slider. You have to think about what contrast you want to create. It can be contrast between two values, two colours, specific shapes or rhythms. Alternatively, it can be less technical and be contrast in a storytelling sense (the attitude of the two characters, for example). And you don’t need all of them to create a memorable image.
Try to identify what your piece is lacking the most and then try redoing this part with a focus on pushing it to the limits, but without crushing it. Knowing what has already been done or present in the world of art and nature may also be helpful to you. Broadening your visual horizons will help you understand how other people have resolved the problem you may be facing right now. A practical approach would be to build a mood board: a collection of images that are connected by one theme, subject matter or a story. Try looking at films, nature, photography, art and design for ideas.
Once you have all the images gathered, they’ll serve as your visual guide and a place that you can refer back to, should you start struggling with your piece. You can adjust it along the way, find new inspirations and explore. You’ll discover that a few hours of planning may save you time, work and frustration at the later stages of the creative process!
Here, I tilted the camera to make the scene look dynamic. The splash of blood on the ice creates a strong, sweeping curve that leads the viewer into the picture.