Saturday, June 04, 2011

Studying Composition & Design

Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon and evening reading "Pictorial Composition and the Critical Judgment of Pictures" by Henry Rankin Poore thanks to The Project Guttenberg EBook found on-line.   I can read it, understand it intellectually, but when it comes to actually working it on paper or with paint, I falter. After reading halfway through the book though, I think my understanding of composition and design is a bit more clear.

Below is photo of some of the fundamental composition formats from the book.  Design comes into play when we structure the areas around the subject to play supporting roles by size, shape, light, dark, values, line value(size, length, width), massing of shapes and areas and colors.  If I'm wrong in my thinking, I hope someone will correct me.
I have a couple of wonderful photos of a Fancy Dancer taken at the local Bell Pow Wow that I have been planning to paint.   In the first sketch of the Fancy Dancer above, I was trying to place the "great white space", counter change (light next to dark, line directions) and how line leads into or away from the subject, remembering line can create action or calm depending on its direction.  Did you notice the almost "S" shape of the figure?  My plan is for there to be areas where the eye can rest but overall the feel of the painting will be one of action. 

The second sketch of the two figures was actually done first, just to show the contrasts of light against dark.


Dean H. said...

Everything you said sounds right to me, Ann. So many concepts/suggested rules enter into composition, every new painting to me is a challenge.

Great sketches. I like their compositions.

Mermaid's Palette said...

Wow, Ann- sounds like you are really learning from this book! Most of my compositions are an accident!

Pat said...

I love the sketch of the dancer - am so looking forward to seeing this in paint.
As for composition, I think you have developed quite an artist's eye!

Sharon Williamson said...

It's fascinating, isn't it, as well as mentally very stimulating when you start to really think about composition and design in preparation for a painting. Makes the whole process all the more rewarding. Looking forward to seeing the painting :-)