The overall format of a painting has a great affect on the mood of the piece. It?s really true that vertical formats are active while horizontal formats tend to be restful and peaceful.
Since I include so few elements I my still lifes, it would be easy to end up with very quiet paintings. To avoid this, I try to set up some diagonal movement. But there?s a danger here as well—the extended diagonals I use could easily tip the composition. Each painting has a balance point, and each side of the balance point must be visually equal. This balance point can be placed in the center, but the composition is usually more dynamic when it?s placed off center.
Yellow Dancer (oil, 19×32)
The rules of composition warn against placing something directly in the middle of a painting. But I?ve found that the center is a very powerful area that can be used for emphasis and formality.
Calla Lily, Iris and Peach Tulip (oil, 36×20)