Don’t be a square
When I was a teenager, ‘square’ was a slang word for someone who was old-fashioned, or out of touch. According to an online thesaurus, synonyms include fogey, conservative, traditionalist, conventionalist, diehard, conformist, bourgeois, museum piece, fossil, dinosaur, troglodyte, stick-in-the-mud, fuddy-duddy, back number, stuffed shirt, and sobersides. Clearly, being a square was not for the young and trendy.
You never hear the word being used that way nowadays. So, I guess it’s safe for me to admit that I’m fond of producing square paintings. In fact, I’ve probably done more than my fair share of them. See my Portfolio for examples.
Why most paintings are rectangular
Most paintings are rectangular, but other shapes are possible. Unfortunately, the square suffers from a reputation for being to work with. That’s why you don’t see many square sketchbooks or sheets of paper. The thinking is that the square is a neutral shape that doesn’t encourage the human eye to move around inside it, unlike the rectangle. (For an artist planning a rectangular painting, it’s relatively easy to compose it in a way that will move the viewer’s eye about.)
That said, square paintings have had a revival in recent years.
The main advantage of the square format, I think, is that the artist can use it to pull the viewer deep into the picture, instead of obliging them to scan it from side to side.
Lately, I’ve been painting some small, square paintings, specifically to enter them into local art club exhibitions. To be honest, that’s mostly because I have a collection of square frames I need to use up.
The featured pic is my latest painting, just completed today. It’s six inches by six inches. The title is 20 Zone. I hope it’ll show you what I mean about the format pulling the viewer right in. The scene is a local one, an old street with the odd name of Buffie’s Brae in the nearby town of Dunfermline.