Composition in art is made easy with the rules of thirds, the rule of center lines and other composition tips.
Use these easy composition tips to design your paintings.
The composition makes them feel comfortable. They will find pleasure and interest in looking at your paintings.
We have an artistic license to move and arrange the elements in our paintings, so they will be pleasing to the viewers.
The rules of good composition in art help the viewers enjoy our paintings.
Divide your painting surface into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. Draw two lines up and down and across your painting surface.
This gives you nine equal spaces. This works when your painting is oriented either horizontal or vertical.
Place your focal point, the center of interest at one of the intersections.
You may use any intersection, left, right, top or bottom.
See the example of my Scrub Jay painting at the right. He is located on the intersection of the third lines.
The viewer's eye is drawn into the painting and can freely move out around the rest of the painting.
The focal point is never in the center of the painting. This make good composition in art that allows the viewer's eye to more around to other areas of the painting.
If the focal point is dead center in the middle of the painting, it is like diving into a deep hole. It is hard for the viewer's eye to move to other areas in the painting.
The Rule of Center Lines is a second rule of composition in art.
Don't put the main subject of your painting on the center lines either horizontally or vertically.
Place any main objects to the left or right of the vertical center line and above or below the horizontal line.
The Oyster Catcher in the painting at the right is dead-centered in the middle of the painting.
Also, the horizon is on the center line.
If you put the main object or the horizon on the center line, it will cut the painting right in half.
Then the viewer sees two paintings instead of one cohesive painting. They feel uncomfortable and don't know where to look.
These two mistakes make a very poor composition.
After you position the main subjects of your painting, you are well on your way to an exciting painting. Here are a few other things to keep in mind.
Don't repeat sizes and shapes thru-out the painting. Have large, small and medium items in the painting, never all the same size.
The same goes for color. Don't have equal amounts of warm and cool colors.
Use your dominant, focus color in a smaller amount. Use the supporting colors in larger amounts.
The focus color in this turtle painting is orange. Blue and yellow are the supporting colors.
Don't have them looking out the side of the painting. Their line-of-sight will carry the viewer's eye right out of the painting. That's poor composition in art paintings.
Notice the turtle in the painting above is looking into the painting. He has plenty of space in front of his face to look into the painting.
Parallel lines close to the edge of the canvas will pull the viewer's eye out of the painting. Or they will pull the eyes away from the focal point.
A long, straight horizon with no break gives the viewer a highway to travel right out of the painting. Use a bird, a tree, a mountain or something for a break to keep the viewer inside the painting.
In this painting the lighthouse tilts slightly to the center of the painting to keep it from being parallel. The top of the lighthouse is subdued, so it doesn't lead the viewer's eye out of the painting.
Neither the lighthouse, nor the horizon are on the center lines of the
painting. The horizon on the right side of the canvas has less value
contrast and softened edges to keep the eyes inside the
But what if you have a building that is rectangular, a mountain that is shaped like a triangle or a lake that is a circle?
Move the view of the building to change its shape. Or camouflage it with foliage or shadows, etc. Put whoop-dee-dos in the mountain to change its shape. Make a meandering shoreline that is not a perfect circle and etc.
Single items are great for the focal area.
In other areas of the painting, group items together. Then they are more comfortable for the viewer.
Even numbers such as two, four or six are stagnant and unexciting to the eye.
So, no matter if its trees, rocks or apples, use odd numbers for good composition in art.
Artists call that kissing. Avoid objects kissing each other or kissing the side of the canvas.
Overlap them somewhat. Then they won't feel disconcerting.
With these easy composition guidelines you can change and move things around.
If it looks and feel right to you, it will please the viewer. And that's what it's all about.