composition woes….

May 3, 2015

MY GREATEST CHALLENGE when painting anything is composition.  For years I felt I was being a ‘purist’, insisting that I always paint on location, never in a studio setting.  And once at the location, I convinced myself that if a tree was in that spot, then that was how it needed to be depicted.

IT WAS ALL DUE TO my tendency to early-on stop referring to the subject in front of me and become more and more involved in what was happening on paper, to the point where I may as well have not been on location at all.  So in an effort at self-discipline, I decided that not only should I paint what things actually look like, I shouldn’t muck around with how and where ‘mother nature’ placed them.

THE SILLY THING WAS, I ended up choosing a composition by default because of course, I couldn’t paint everything my eyes saw in front of me.  And more often than not, it was not a good composition.  So now, not only do I go to some lengths to study the skill of creating an interesting arrangement, I realise it is the painter’s task to take what ‘mother nature’ provides and make art out of that.  Fences do need to be repositioned, as do trees and hills and clouds.

SO NOW I MAKE thumbnail studies first on matt board before beginning anything . . .




THE OBJECTIVE is to provide a focal point, a visual way in towards it, then additional visual interest so the eye has more to discover by wandering beyond the subject itself.  These thumbnails are exploring the use of a compositional figure ‘Z’ shape to lead the eye of the viewer.




3 Responses to “composition woes….”

  1. Just thought I’d mention, you may find a comment I made on this post the other day in your comment list..if not..not to always love your artwork! 🙂


  2. ….thank you for being my buddy in this situation, rebecca, cuz composition drives me coo-coo. I rebelled against the ‘cliche’ of dividing the paper in thirds and placing points of interest at the intersections. But truly, our eyes are attracted to the same things in the same places every single time. Eyes aren’t going to ignore a red dot. They aren’t going to stop zeroing-in on intersected thirds if something of importance is placed there. So now I see that what’s important is WHAT is placed in those predictable intersections–not trying to change the human eye to be attracted somewhere else, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rebecca said

    Thanks for sharing this process – I’m always struggling with composition, and have a fear of moving things around from how I see them. It’s good to know that with perseverance these obstacles might be overcome. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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