I have been thinking a lot about composition lately because it is one topic that most of my students ask about. "When do you worry about composition?", "Is it a composition?", "What about the Rule of Thirds?", "It is pleasing to the eye, but is it a good composition?"
The questions beg other questions.
- Why worry? I don't worry, I just compose. That is the process, and it involves trying things, changing them, painting over things, suggesting something to the painting and then seeing if the painting accepts it or not. Composing is constant hypothesizing and questioning. Trying things, editing, revising, building, deconstructing. This is composing.
- How can marks on a page not be a composition? "These I just made, followed your instructions; this other one I tried to make a composition". Comment from a student in a recent workshop, not uncommon. They are all compositions. You have composed all of them.
- What if you don't apply the Rule of Thirds, whatever that is? Anything that calls itself a rule is begging to be challenged. Try out the opposite, or something different from, the rule in question. SEE what happens, rather than just taking the rule as a Rule.
- Pleasing to whose eye? "Pleasing to the eye" is often used to mean "I like it". Own your personal taste. Don't project onto others. To me, "pleasing to the eye" suggests that the artist is trying to please an audience. It's great when people like your work, but what matters most is that your work speaks to you. Then you know it is your work, and what you send out into the world is real.
Below are two pieces that I will be demonstrating in my Technique Takeaway, Composition as Process.
This 90-minute demonstration and discussion is online, via ZOOM, hosted by Winslow Art Center.
Friday, August 27
5:00 - 6:30 Eastern Time, 2:00 - 3:30 Pacific Time
I will walk you through my compositional process on the above two pieces and more. This is not an analysis of the finished pieces themselves, but a peek into my thoughts on composition as I am composing. The above two pieces are paintings. I will be including at least one collage piece as well, so you can learn how I think through that process as well. There will be intermittent Q&A during this demonstration. If you can't make it to the live ZOOM event, sign up anyway and you will get access to the video. Find out more here.