A well-composed painting will help invite the viewer and help communicate the artist’s statement.
What is composition
- It is the arrangement or “layout” of visual objects within the artwork,
- it is where you put the objects,
- it is the way you as the artist, choose to arrange the objects.
- Composition affects the way the viewer experience the artwork,
- it helps to draw the eye in to the artwork,
- and helps with depth.
Elements of composition in the art (visual tools)
- Lines – enable the eye to move in following the lines.
- Lines are much more than the outline of objects in your paintings.
- They do not need to be solid.
- If a subject is pointing to someplace, the eye will follow the line of the arm/leg.
- Lines in the sky will lead the eye through the whole painting.
- Shapes and colors can create lines.
- Spirals, triangles, circles, curves, zigzags, circles.
- Shadows are “abstract” shapes/forms and,
- trees are “physical” objects.
- Look at how the shape/form looks like not what the shape or form is. For example a ball: look at the roundness of the ball, not at the ball itself.
- Color – different hues.
- Color affects everything around us.
- Hot and cold are experienced as “red” and “white”.
- Colors can be used to balance, create movement in, and harmonize a painting.
- Color attracts attention.
- Texture – surface.
- Space – space that is taken up by objects (positive) and space that is taken up between objects (negative).
- Value – how light or dark the object is.
- white is the lightest value and, black is the darkest value.
- Where two shapes of the same value cross, the edges disappear.
- Tone – not pure hue.
- Depth – to create depth use proportion,
What can help when using elements (principles – how we use the visual tools/elements)
- Balance – balance the elements.
- Maintain the balance making sure the visual weight is the same on both sides.
- Balance determines how pleasing a work of art can be.
- Balance helps with harmony and,
- keeps the viewer drawn in the artwork.
- Example: the horizon line should not divide the artwork into two equal parts.
- Direction – the path that the viewer’s eye will follow.
- Negative space/White space – it is anything that is not a subject. Not two must be the same – spaces between objects should vary in shape and size.
- Focus point – create a focal point, it grabs the viewer’s attention. For example a bigger object in front and a smaller object towards the back in a painting.
- Contrast – smaller contrast elements have much more impact than large elements.
- Contrast is created when there are conflicting elements in an artwork.
- Uneven numbers – use own uneven number of objects.
- Rhythm/movement – is about using similarly shaped objects to lead the eye from one object to another.
- Variety – is visually interesting due to the use of different forms and types of objects.
- Unity – unity strives to find overall stability.
- The rule of thirds – is a simplification of golden mean which is a ratio meaning,
- to ensure the focal point of your artwork is not directly in the center,
- cutting the scene into thirds both ways – you will end up with nine sections.
- Use types of composition
- L-Shape: dividing the canvas into two unequal parts. The line can be horizontal or vertical.
- S-Shape: create a winding line. You can use the S-Shape to direct attention to the focus of the composition.
- Diagonals: create a strong composition and tension.
- Grouping: use clustered items to add weight to composition.
- Lines: guide the eyes to the focal point and hold them for a while.
- If you pay attention to detail and composition is lousy the painting will not look right.
- A strong composition should get the eye to continuously move from one place to the next.
- Avoid placing the main object in the middle/center of the canvas.
- Let the composition surprise the viewer.
- Every part of the artwork is important. All parts should work together and “communicate”.
- no rules in art must be so strict that you do not follow your own thoughts and ideas.
- Rules are guidelines or suggestions to create your own artwork.
- Creative imagination is the most important tool for a successful composition.
Have a nice day!