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Vertical images stop/arrest/prevent/interrupt the normal side-to-side scanning of our environment - the images in front of us. We literally STOP. So art/images/photos in a portrait orientation make us switch to a different way of looking.

Bend. Pastel & Mixed Media on watercolour

paper. 8 x 8

When we are looking straight ahead, the sharpest images are in the mid-line of our field of view.

At the Serpentine. Pastel on Canson Board. 16 x 20

We look for signs. Is it friend, foe or food? We tend to fixate on the object and find it difficult to mover on, until our 'alert' button pops off, releasing us to go back to our normal scanning of the 'landscape'.

 

When a rapid movement draws our attention, we go into alert or readiness mode.

What about about square images? Depending on the content, scale, colour and techniques they fall in the middle.

                                                                        Or do they?

Procession. Pastel on Paper. 13 x 8

So, in landscape paintings, in order to 'stop' the viewer you need one, or more, focal points to 'hold' the viewer's attention. Of course different images attract the attention of different people.

Rocky Point. Pastel on watercolour paper. 10.5 x 8

When things are going well in our environment, especially if the colours blue and/or green dominate our field of view, "all is right with the world" - we are centered and happy

Since humans were hunters & gathers we developed the practice of scanning our environment from side to side. This has interesting effects on how we look at paintings.

Road Trip. Pastel on Panel. 12 x 12

Press On. Pastel on watercolour paper. 11.5 x 7.5

Normally, when looking ahead, the top, bottom and sides are less in focus, and depending on the ambient light - darker

So, we can from side to side, unless, or until, something draws our attention to the vertical (up or down) and then only if it moves rapidly through the mid-line, and, potentially closer to us.

Winter Meadow. Pastel on Paper. 11 x 8.5

Chickens on Wheels. Pastel on Panel

10 x 10

Pastures Near and Far. Pastel on Paper. 7 x 5

Mauve and Blue. Pastel on Panel. 24 x 12