Lesson 3: The Structures of Beauty
Elements of Composition
Reduced to its primary elements composition is the harmonious compilation of Line, Notan and Color within a defined pictorial space. In this lesson I'll continue to focus on the Notan honing in on the basic armatures of pictorial design.
Whether your genre is figural, landscape, still-life or non-objective abstraction painting is about Shape. Even down to the smallest accent and detail a painting's success is defined by the concordant arrangement of shapes.
The primary shape, the four critical lines, are the edges of your canvas. The canvas you choose must have a sympathetic correspondence to your subject and narrative. We'll approach this particular facet of composition in a later lesson: The Harmonious Divisions of Space.
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Shape | Spacing
Whereas Shape defines the subject of a painting, Spacing (Proportion) is the grounding of Design. There are five principles of Composition in the arrangement of Shapes and Spacing:
Good design very often incorporates all of these five principles.
Underlying these five principles are four basic armatures upon which good pictorial design is established.
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Another truism is painting mistakes are generally drawing mistakes. As a figurative painter, I can tell you this is an infallible truth. Master your drawing now and save yourself heartbreak later. It is quite disillusioning to spend weeks and months on a painting and as it nears completion all of those drawing errors begin to emerge and take center stage.