Horizon Lines and Diptychs

Two paintings are better than one right? And three are better than two? Well no. But with the popularity of collages lately, I’m finding that I get more and more commission requests for two, three or more paintings in a series.

“Horizon” diptych

Art History

Now when it comes to art history, diptychs and triptychs are nothing new. It’s not some super popular fad from Pinterest or anything. In fact if you have ever taken an Art History class you will remember many famous painters of the 15th and 16th centuries like Rogier van der Weyden’s “Crucifixion” Triptych (video below) or Hans Memling’s “Last Judgement” as main examples on a final exam.

While they have heavy social context and religious iconography, today’s more common “home decor” diptychs and triptychs are simpler continuations of the painting on two or more canvases. (See Target, aisle 6B)

Some may have similar colors to tie the paintings together or some share horizon lines. I personally like the continuation of the strokes, so when I’m painting two paintings at once, I go ahead and attach them side by side on my easel. That way as I’m applying the color there is no disconnect, like you are looking out a window.

My natural diptych.
My natural diptych. Taken this morning. Isn’t it beautiful!?

Blue Mood

When I was still working in Sioux Falls many moons ago, I had a duh moment where I was so sick of looking at bare walls in my cubicle that I ran to the craft store, bought two canvases, three colors and one brush. Over a lunch hour of about 15 minutes I had my artwork up. It wasn’t anything special, abstract horizontal strokes with a 2 inch brush. Literally caking the paint on. At that point, I don’t think I had touched a brush in over four years and I just had to paint. SOMETHING. So it was kind of therapeutic and a little pathetic since it made me realize I hadn’t created any art for so long.

Blue Mood
“Blue Mood” – 15 minutes of frustration on a lunch hour

Well after we moved, those two blue paintings moved from my cubicle in Sioux Falls to my mud room in the new house.  At some point I was going to add to them, they aren’t “complete” other than they are dry but time makes fools of us all and there they sat.


I had all but forgot about them, when a client had saw them and loved them.  So much so that he wanted to surprise his wife with a commissioned abstract diptych of her own. And it made me recall why I made them in the first place. They weren’t remarkable by any means, just moments of frustration captured in paint. But, he liked the style, so how could I say no. Using gray, blues and greens I created the painting that I’m calling “Horizon”. They took about a month to paint, mostly because you slowly build up layers and layers of color and paint. It was both 2 inch brush, a 1/2 round and palette knife. I used some linseed oil for thinning agent for the lighter white areas but mostly is was full application of raw oil.

“Horizon” Oil on Canvas. Commission SOLD


Now it looks really simple, but it really wasn’t. Certain colors blend really well to find that balance of warm and cool. Mixing weird hues together can get really muddy really fast. Plus I wanted to have a slight impressionism quality so that you can imagine it as waves or fields or clouds without hitting you over the head with it. The only real thought I had in this is the feeling of looking beyond.

I actually did some testing on two smaller canvases just to get the colors and movement right:

Untitled testing.
Untitled. Testing colors. Oil on Canvas.

I really like the light and dark contrasts with the green and grays. It feels like you are floating and has a slight horizontal movement to it that is really appealing to me.

I had also played with some colors earlier on another double canvas painting titled “Lilypads”. I blend two ways, one, I completely mix my colors with a palette knife on board or two, I mix directly on the canvas. Below, I’m mixing directly on canvas, above I’m premixing on board. Huge differences in application makes huge differences in style.

"Lilypads" Oil on canvas.
“Lilypads” Oil on canvas.

While these paintings are not my true impressionistic style, I always think it’s a good idea to try new things and release a little creativity in new ways. It would be a very boring world, if you did the same thing day in and day out. So do something new today! Go forth and be creative!

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