Painting Composition Tips

A pleasing composition will have colors and shapes planned in such a way that gives a painting a sense of balance. Subconsciously the viewer picks up on a painting that is not balanced and loses interest.
Before starting a painting you need to decide on the composition, that is, where to place things. The Rule of Thirds is the easiest and most important rule to follow and is a basic rule for photographers. If you follow this rule you will never have a painting that can be split into two separate paintings or with a focal point in the center.
I always start a painting by ruling the board or canvas into equal thirds with a pencil. Place your focal point at one of these four points, either the lower third or the top third point, left or right. A good way to experiment with placing your focal point is to cut out rough shapes and place them at these four points or you can do some quick thumbnail sketches. This way you will find the most pleasing composition without wasting a lot of time.
Another very important point is to always have an odd number of elements in your painting. For example, three seagulls flying in the sky rather than two, an odd number of people standing in a group, three umbrellas, not two. This rule, of course, can be broken if the sizes of these elements varies, for example a mother and young child walking along the beach, or an older child with a younger, or one child standing and another squatting.
Vary the spacing between your elements, for example, if you have a group of seagulls on the beach, make sure that they are not equal distance from each other. Space them randomly, some in groups and others alone. This applies for people as well, place them randomly, walking in different directions, some sitting, others running or kneeling. This way your painting will not look stiff and uninteresting. It will add life, movement and interest to your masterpiece.
The overall color of the painting should be warm or cool, not both, although colors should become softer and cooler as they recede into the distance.
Objects in the distance will be smaller, softer and have less detail.
With a well-balanced composition the viewer’s eye should be drawn into and around the painting.
Remember, however bad you think your painting, you will always learn by your mistakes. I never stop learning!
Relax and enjoy!

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