What is composition in artist painting?

By Ron Gribble

I will attempt to address the composition in artist painting question.
That is, the arrangement of the elements, of a subject to compliment the focal points and create a harmonious, inviting place for the viewers eye to rest in. Probably not the best definition in the world, but will do for now.

To achieve all of the above, a good composition should have all or most of the following:
scale design school paints

:Foreground,
:Mid-ground,
:Background
:Eyepath
:Primary point of interest
:Area of mystery
:Non-geometric arrangement of elements


There is a lot of personal preference involved in all of this, but lets take a ‘broad brush’ look.

Foreground, Mid-ground and Background:



Yes, even still life, or ‘key hole’ subjects. You should be showing depth. One of the three maybe very under stated, but leave it out altogether at your own risk.
Eye Path:



That is, an element of work that guides the viewer though and into the point of interest and deposit in the ‘area of mystery’ (see below).
Primary Point of Interest:



The reason the work was achieved for.  What you want to be dominant – this is your message. There can be no lesser points of interest but this one is painted in such a way as to hold the eye.
Area of Mystery:



An area that is so understated, that is in not obvious as to what you are saying. Soft focus? Misty? Distant?  Let the viewers interpret this from their own point of reference.
Scale:



There should be something the viewer can latch onto to give the whole work scale.  Answer the question. How big am I? Is that rock a mighty mountain, or a pebble?  How big is that tree, mountain, waterfall, water expanse?
Put something that the viewer can use to make comparison. A huge ocean liner under, dwarfed by an expanse of water or mountain, will do a different scale job, than putting in a rowboat.

A figure or two, an animal or three, even a fence line will help.  We all know how big these are compared to ourselves.

Non-geometric Arrangement of Elements:
Keep the vital things away from the middle. Try thinking in terms of thirds. Points of interest details of elements arranged a third up from the side, and a third in.  Think in shapes and vary them one tree on a hill, flowers, rock on whatever is not going to be going to be made five times more interesting by adding five more.  The reverse is more true. Not all elements sloping in the same direction.

Thank you to those who have e-mailed me with comments – it makes all work worth if you enjoy this blog.

Happy Painting



Ron Gribble
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