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Learning About Composition...

Hello! One thing I've been particularly interested in, as I learn more about art, is composition! The idea of "rhythm" and "movement" in my drawing or painting and the way it is designed captivates me. I love looking at other artists' work and recognizing a beautiful and interesting composition; the question is- how did they do it?

How do you look at a panoramic landscape or a café scene and crop it into a descriptive, complete, and balanced painting?

How do you know where to place it?

How do you figure out how to connect all the shadows and lights?

This is a puzzle that has been on my mind for a while now, and I am seeking out the answer! I've been reading Richard Schmid's "Alla Prima II" and read through the Composition chapter. He has lots of helpful advice for this, and one particularly helpful quote is: "Knowing what we wish to say comes first, the design then follows effortlessly."

Easy, right? ;)

I'm sure I'll understand it more as I continue to paint and learn, but for now it's still a bit puzzling. I think I'm getting too caught up in trying to design everything-almost mathematically-and not knowing what I actually want to say with my painting before I paint it! We've also been learning about composition in art class; in landscapes right now, but a lot of the techniques and advice that apply to landscape composition can also be helpful for painting a portrait or figure! I'm especially drawn to art with unique and adventurous compositions, but those happen to be the hardest to successfully accomplish! Practice makes perfect, as they say!

I just finished this piece today. As I'm trying to understand composition, I decided to go out on a limb and try a composition I've never done before! This is a 9x12" painting of my youngest sister, Olivia, called "Azure." I placed her over to the left of the canvas and used her arms and a scarf to try and create an interesting pattern for your eye to follow. I'm just beginning to learn, but I'm having lots of fun figuring it out!

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