Composition in painting: how to paint a successful picture

Composition in painting is the way you arrange the elements on your canvas.

Composing a painting shouldn’t restrict your creativity or inhibit your spontaneity. Painting is about letting your emotions flow!

It’s a subtle mix of giving free rein to the imagination while “respecting” compositional criteria.

It’s quite an art!

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What is composition in painting?

Organizing your elements on the canvas as you see fit, using certain compositional concepts, gives structure to the whole. The aim is to achieve a balanced, aesthetically pleasing visual effect that is both powerful and highly attractive. Let our eyes converge here, plunging into the heart of your creation, as if drawn by an invisible force!

Composition in abstract painting is :

  • distribute patterns and geometric shapes on the canvas ;
  • organize color management ;
  • prioritize the various elements you wish to include;
  • mix and match textures ;
  • harmonizing values, etc.

As you can see, it’s all about balance.

The rule of thirds: organizing the elements in your table

The rule of thirds is a basic technique widely used in photography. It allows you to frame the shot to obtain an image in which each element has a chosen place. Highlighted or blurred in the background, the choice of subject location, size, position… The rule of thirds allows all the “motifs” to be organized with respect for proportions.

This technique highlights certain elements, directing the eye to chosen points.

The rule of thirds also applies in an abstract painting: you arrange the elements on the whole canvas, distributing them evenly to create a certain coherence.

The rule of thirds in practice: using it for a painting

You have your canvas, which you position as you wish to paint it, horizontally or vertically.

Divide it into 9 parts: to do this, draw (or virtually imagine) 2 vertical lines and 2 horizontal lines. These lines may or may not be parallel to the edges of the painting! Draw them at an angle, change their direction. In any case, the result is a grid of 9 spaces.

This grid will serve as the basis for structuring your painting, and distributing your elements in a proportionate and regular manner.

To do this, you can :

  • place your motifs and shapes in one of the boxes to organize your painting;
  • use line intersections as focal points to create a particular visual effect.

The focal point: drawing the eye to my painting

You can use the line junctions to position a focal point (or several), a point of light for example, to direct the viewer’s gaze where you want it to go in contemplating your work.

The focal point is a specific place that you choose to place at the heart of your painting. It’s a dominant feature that immediately grabs the viewer’s attention at first glance. In short, you control the way you contemplate your painting. This “guiding” technique may seem surprising, but without a focal point, the viewer can feel lost in front of the work. In short, the eye doesn’t know where to start reading. And the brain won’t be able to analyze it. Your painting won’t be appreciated for what it’s worth.

The power of color in a composition

To create movement, draw the eye to a precise point in your painting, direct the gaze to induce the “sense” of reading your work, play with colors.

Painting light: using values

Each color can be declined in multiple shades. This is what we call value. It’s up to you to use all these possibilities to create focal points. You can paint a jet of light, brightening up certain areas and bringing out certain shapes or patterns in your painting. This way, you can draw attention to exactly the right spot in your painting.

Creating movement in a painting

Composition is also a set of techniques you can use to suggest movement in your creation. Even if you’ve painted geometric, linear shapes, you can suggest depth, letting the viewer imagine movement within your painting.

The golden ratio: the magic of divine proportion

“For a building to be beautiful, it must possess symmetry and perfect proportions like those found in nature “. (Vitruvius)

Nature. Every season, it spontaneously offers us the ultimate in aesthetic color, shape and proportion.

Who hasn’t marveled at the beauty of nature, creation and landscapes?

The golden ratio is sometimes difficult to understand in absolute terms. It’s a mathematical formula that occurs spontaneously in nature and is used in various fields, such as art. It’s a natural composition that the eye is accustomed to contemplating in nature, governed by a relationship of proportionality between the various elements. The result is harmonious, pleasant and soothing to contemplate.

Rule of thirds in painting

However, don’t immediately launch into an in-depth study of Phi or the Fibonacci sequence. Simply understand that the golden ratio is a notion, a reference point for perfection and aesthetics that has its place in art and acrylic painting.

However, to sum up, don’t restrict your desire to create for the sake of fitting in with standards. Composition simply allows you to better manage the space available on your canvas. Don’t hesitate to do some paper tests beforehand.

Tentez, découvrez, testez : telle sera votre réussite ! Car, évidemment, l’analyse d’une œuvre est toujours possible et peut être poussée à l’extrême. Mais il ne faut jamais oublier la part d’émotions que l’auteur a mis sous ses traits de pinceaux, et qui reste personnelle et non interprétable 😉. 

Pack offert : Techniques, matériel & guide

Pour vous lancer dans la peinture abstraite dans de bonnes conditions, je vous offre ce pack comprenant mon guide du matériel, un cours de peinture abstraite et une avalanche de conseils !

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