What Makes a Good Composition?

For some students arranging a good composition comes naturally, they just seem to know what looks right.  Some however find composition a bit of a mystery and struggle to capture an arresting arrangement and therefore piece of art. I offer a few tips to help you find the perfect composition.

Take The Time

Many of us don’t spend much time thinking about how we look at a subject, if it is in front of us we draw or paint it.  Often we forget that we have choices around the viewpoint (near, far, above or below), angles, and the arrangement of the objects themselves.

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Why You Shouldn’t Forget the Background!

One of the most common mistakes beginner learners make when they start drawing and painting is forgetting about the background.  I see a lot of ‘floating’ jars of flowers, pots, vases and figures in the beginner classes.  The background should not be forgotten.  I will explain why:

Part of the Story

The background puts the subject in context and can ‘tell the story’ of what is happening.  For example if a figure is sitting on a sofa we know why their posture is a certain way, it would be different if they were sat on an upright chair for example.

There is useful tonal  information in the background which can help bring depth and tonal value to the subject.  Shadows are important for telling the observer that the subject is three dimensional and will tell us more about the lighting conditions.

Simple backgrounds are better than none.

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