Thursday, February 3, 2011

It’s what's behind the paint & graphite

Pictorial Composition.....

The foundation of any successful creative endeavor is a well thought out composition. There is so much more evolved in creating a drawing or painting than just scratching some graphite onto a piece of paper or throwing some paint onto a canvas. Simply put Composition is an orderly arrangement of the elements of art using the principles of design. The principles of design help you to plan and organize the elements of art so that you can hold interest in your painting or drawing.

I have been interested in the theory and insights behind composition since I was in college and have dug for years for information about it. I found a few books about composition back in college and got a pretty good understanding of it but it wasn’t until recently that my friend and fellow artist Terry Miller shared his insight on composition. Terry is a master at composition, each of his pieces are well thought out and visually interesting to look at. He has a saying that I love, it’s so simple and yet so accurate… “Composition Stupid!” Yes it’s that simple if you are good at the craft of applying paint to a canvas or graphite to paper and you compose the shapes in your picture plane thoughtfully then you should have a really nice finished piece when you are done.

One of the books that Terry turned me onto was “Geometry of Design” by Kimberly Elam which has introduced me to the “golden section rectangle.” Fascinating in a completely art geeky way! 

In this series of postings I plan to share what I know and what I continue to learn about the underling structure of making a great image also know as pictorial composition.



Terry Miller said...

Hey Robert,
Thanks for the plug and mention. Glad to hear that you are enjoying your exploration of design, compositional elements and all the other 'back stuff'.

Kelly said...

Thank you for sharing this information, I'm just entering the commercial world of art and composition is a word that frightens me, I usually go by gut instrinct but knowing the findamentals is very important. Thank you for the book link, might make that my first investment into my composition understanding.

Robert L Caldwell, Artist said...

Anytime Terry!!!!

Kelly make sure to look at Terry's work and read his blog, he has his thumb on the pulse of composition! Please check back as I post more articles in the future about composition and mention books that I am reading about and don't ever let anything in art frighten you -- creating art should be fun!

Terry's blog --

Terry's website --