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Composition in Painting

Composition in a painting is crucially important. Contemporary art practitioners are often blamed for lacking the knack to convey their feelings and emotions through their artwork. So it is important to learn and research on how to improve a painting's composition and portray the "ideas and feelings" in a proper manner. There are an infinite number of variables in a composition like line, shape, color, space, depth etc. Altering any one of the elements can make or mar a painting because the different elements are interdependent. Each line, shape, or color has its own purpose in the total composition. Each element helps to craft a finely tuned painting. Professional art practitioners often make their choices from their "inner necessity". Kandinsky refers to it as ‘their inner artistic voice'. For amateurists, it is painting ‘experience and experimentation that sets in motion the process of discovering their personal vision.'

Guidelines to Create a Strong Composition

  • Finding out the Focal point- The focal point in a painting is very important. The focal point should be potential enough to draw the viewer’ eyes towards it.

  • Use of Varied Values- The painting’s composition can be measured by taking into account the following values- white (light), black (dark), and grey (mid-tone). A good painting should contain each of these values in different proportions. For example two-thirds in dark tone, one-third in light tone and a small area in mid-tone.

  • There should be unity in a painting’s composition- The different elements in a painting should have a sense of belonging in them. Unity amongst different elements in a painting can be created by glazing over the whole painting by a particular color.

  • Variety in composition- Variety is the spice of life. So a good artist should not stick to one particular composition no matter how successful it is.

  • Make prior sketches— Sketches for the composition can be done ahead of time, in pencil or charcoal, exploring different possible compositions until one discovers the ideal one.

  • It is always advisable to start with the larger volumes of the subject first followed by the smaller ones and finally finishing with touching up the details.

Types of Composition There can be several types of composition in a painting:

  • Iconic- Iconic composition is employed in cosmic based paintings.

  • A dynamic Balance- Dynamically balanced composition came in vogue during the Italian Renaissance and is a sign of a humanist outlook.

  • Informal Dynamic Balance- Informal dynamic balance extends the concept of dynamic balance by shifting the balance point even further from the center.

  • Scatter Balance- In this particular type of balance, which represents the present genre of painting there is absolutely no hierarchy of form.

  • Outside the Picture Plane- This sort of composition is characterized by strong, bold, minimal use of shape and use of a limited number of high chroma colors.

Modern art was distinguished by experimentation in color, space and composition. However, the post modern era is marked by relaxing the strictness of art principles. With globalization art has also become a global matter.

The emphasis on art has therefore shifted from the values of color, space and composition to the content of the work. Composition in a painting nevertheless will always remain important as it helps to make a 'harmonious meaningful statement'. Painting is not just throwing objects or filling the background with details. It's about careful planning which creates a well composed picture leaving the viewer satisfied and with the desire to unravel the mysteries behind the great works of art.

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