Introduce the topic of composition in art
What is composition in art? What are the various components of composition that make a painting or an illustration appear to be more effective than another? How can classical methods of composition help to achieve a desired effect in art? The most common purpose for composition in art is to build a visual argument or story. This is the foremost guide to composition of a visual art such as a painting. Compressing the elements into a properly posed iconic form allows a viewer to take an active interest in and feel an emotional attachment to the image. Art is effective when it has a clear idea and purpose in mind. To be well-done and properly composed, the subject of a painting or illustration must be clear, appropriate, and engaging. Without clarity in visual art, the viewer cannot effectively absorb what they are looking at. The most effective way to direct a viewer’s attention is by utilizing well-known visual cues from art history such as the rule of thirds, various classical shapes, and traditional facial proportions. It is also important to establish relationships between the elements of a painting or illustration in order to allow a viewer to better comprehend what they are looking at. When dealing with paintings and illustrations, the visual leading-edge of the image is quite important. By enticing the viewer with new insights, a clear purpose for composition can be established, and a visual argument can be created.
Offer examples of compositions that have been successful in achieving their purpose
It is generally accepted that paintings of the seventeenth century are considered most effective at achieving their purpose of composition. The formal symmetry in paintings by artists such as Pieter Saenredam and Jan Vermeer show this to be true. The symmetrical placement of various elements such as people, furniture, and landscape allows the viewer to take an active interest in the scene. Viewers can focus on specific details such as a person, a table or a vase in the foreground, and then view the rest of the composition as if it is being viewed through a window. This gives the viewer a feeling of being somewhere outside of the picture, observing the scene through an open window. Similarly, even though artists such as Frans Hals and Rembrandt did not paint in this style, they achieved their purpose through their use of symmetry and perspective in their work. However, symmetry is not the only benefit that can be gained from such a composition. The viewer is able to see what lies next to or behind an object in the foreground because of perspective. This gives the viewer a sense of depth in the painting. Perspective adds to the realism of the painting, therefore making it more effective.
Explain how to create a successful composition using simple guidelines
Guide lines can be helpful in terms of guiding the viewer through a work of art. The first step is to make an initial sketch to show the placement of each element in the composition. The sketch can be rough and can later be refined as more details are added. Placement of the elements can be achieved by imagining that the viewer’s eyes are located at the center of the composition. A central point, or eye level, should be placed at a consistent height and in a consistent location to give the image an overall balance. The size of each portion of the composition is also important for achieving balance. The proportions provide a sense of harmony and effectively indicate how to best view the image. Dividing space into equal parts creates a sense of calmness and tranquility for viewers. Also, balancing the composition at equal distances from one another creates a sense of balance and order. In performing these steps, the artist can to test placement in the various parts of the composition in order to determine what height to create for eye level as well as where to place other important elements such as the horizon.
Once it is determined how each element should be positioned, lines are then added if necessary. Lines help delineate elements in order for clarity for viewers. Once all lines have been drawn or defined, color can be added. Color is a very important element in terms of defining and adding depth. An effective color scheme should consist of colors that contrast well with each other. For example, using complimentary colors can be very effective in creating contrast if used cautiously. By using colors that have been defined by their relationship to one another, the contrast will automatically be enhanced.