Sunday, March 17, 2013

Studying Composition & Design ....

"In art, the terms design and composition are nearly synonymous.  By definition, design means to invent or conceive. Composition refers to the placement of forms, shapes, values and colors within a picture.  The distinction between the two terms is that design is the act, and composition is the result.  In short, you create a composition through the act of designing." ~ North Light 

Remember me telling you how I thought I should be focusing my attention on becoming a better artist?  Since writing that blog post I have been examining composition and design and I must say I'm really enjoying the research.

Some years ago I had done some reading about composition but I don't think a lot of it stayed with me.  What did stay with me I didn't consciously apply to any of my work ... if it was used it was more than likely not on purpose.  

McLane Cove, 5" x 7" oil on gessoed watercolor paper,
© 2013 Nancy Van Blaricom

In my painting above I purposely tried to direct your attention to what I felt was the center of interest.  I have some strong diagonals that draw you into the picture plane. At the same time encompass  your interest by focusing on the significance of the clouds and the sky.

I like this painting much better in real life.   I seem to have trouble getting my whites and blues to photograph well.  And photoshop doesn't seem to help much.
  • Do you consciously apply your design knowledge to your work 
  • Or is it second nature to you now?  
  • What about thumbnails ... do you try out a couple of different scenarios in pencil before you commit to a design?


  1. Great post! I love the painting and the focus you were able to achieve. One of the things I really enjoy about painting is the composition. I am always trying new things...even with a portrait of just a face I work on placement, angles and points of interest to the piece.

  2. Thank you Nancy for sharing your exploration of the concept of design and composition. It caught my eye because I have been working through some of the same ideas, while teaching the "Foundations of Design", for several weeks.
    We studied the idea of a Notan Sketch using black and white studies to find the pattern of dark and light along with an exercise
    where we learned how to find the focal point and make sure that the viewers eye will lead them to it. It was very good for me as I learn right along with my students...
    Great Post!

  3. I love John Carlson. His book guide to landscape painting is invaluable.

  4. Thank you Randy and Julienne for dropping by. I'm enjoying re-learning some composition. I hope it sticks with me longer that it has in the past.