A triptych is a painting (or other work of art) made on three separate canvases (or whatever surface you prefer). Sometimes each canvas has an individual look, with it’s own completely separate image on it, but sometimes all three canvases work together to create a larger image.
I’ve made a few triptychs over the years, and they usually go along with the latter idea of creating one large image. The first one I made was in college. It was called Setting Sky, and it was on three small canvases, probably 3″ x 6″ or so. I used acrylic paint and hot glue on it. My process wasn’t thought out at all. I just went for it.
My second triptych was much more thought out. I bought three canvases and had an immediate idea for what I wanted to paint on them. I got home and planned it all out in my sketchbook, deciding everything down to the colors beforehand. This painting was called Chaos Becomes You and I was very proud of how much effort I put into it.
One of the more recent triptychs I’ve completed lands somewhere between my first two on the planning scale. I didn’t draw out every aspect in a sketchbook, but I didn’t completely wing it either.
For Trying to Find You I had set colors in mind (namely teal and alizarin crimson) for the majority of the canvases, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be layout or theme for the painting. I was stilling painting my figures, but at this point I’d also moved on to painting more abstracted landscapes.
This painting combines those two ideas. I included my figures, but they have been painted very strategically, missing parts of their bodies and looking more dynamic than a lot of my figures in the past. The rest of the canvases are covered in abstract sections of paint.
I like working in threes (which is why I like triptychs so much), something common for artists. Thus, I knew I needed more than just two distinct colors, and I contemplated adding a third figure to the painting.
I don’t remember why I chose yellow as my third color, but I’m glad I did. Not only is there inherently yellow in the teal color, its brightness works really well is the deep brightness of the crimson. I considered adding the yellow in more places than just on the middle canvas, but in the end I decided against it.
Part of me really wanted to add a third figure to that panel, but my logic was that since the yellow was only on the middle canvas I didn’t need to add a third figure because that panel had it’s own unique thing going on.
While perhaps the least dynamic canvas, sometimes I think the middle canvas is my favorite. It doesn’t have some obvious focal point, but I love where I chose to put the yellow dollops, I love the light coloring in the middle of the canvas, and I love the juxtaposition of the crimson and teal.
What do you think of my triptych? Let me know in the comments, and look back here next week for more insights about this painting!