For our purposes, "composition" is the art of making a sketch or painting
pleasing to the eye.
When the elements of a painting are pleasantly arranged, the eye will be
gently led to those features of the scene that have pleased you. The eye
will not be offended, bored, or drawn away from the center of interest.
The eye will participate in the pleasure you felt when you touched brush
Good composition can be learned! Many books have been written to teach the
classical elements of composition. My own choice in this regard would be
some of the wonderful teachers of the past, such as Ernest Watson or Ted
Kautzky. But there are other good instructors who have written books on
the subject. Look into it, and you will certainly learn much beyond the
scope of this book. And with practice, what you learn from books will
eventually become almost instinctive.
However, I offer a few hints on the subject:
Determine what is your "center of interest." As 1 discussed in the last
section, make it bold and---well---interesting! Try not to place it dead
center in the painting. Put it slightly to the right or left, and above or
below the center. Don't ask me why this works best, but it does.
Generations of artists have proven this to be so, and it is wise to learn
from their experience.
Next, balance your composition. The eye becomes uncomfortable if all of
the interest is on one side of the paper. These simple examples tell the
tale better than words:
These examples, though similar to the
above, are improvements because they are better balanced. And notice how
the added elements keep your eye from roaming off the side of the paper.
Try to avoid perfect symmetry. In
painting, symmetry is boring. Notice the difference between the drawing on
the left, and the improved version on the right.
Use various devices to lead your eye to
the center of interest. This can get complicated. But notice how a simple
pathway, stream, dock, or other buildings, can lead the eye where you want
it to be. Correct perspective always helps in this regard. Poor
perspective can lead your eye right off the paper! Notice the devices that
help lead to the center of interest in these examples.
There is far more to this interesting
subject that is beyond the scope of this book, but these few hints should
get you started. Read up on it. Practice it! Eventually interesting
composition will become second nature to you.