Plus Fuel Your Passion with These Incredible Watercolors
Thousands, maybe even millions, of paintings exist. But they all have certain things in common. Those commonalities are relatively few in number: color, style, subject matter and composition. That means they matter — a lot. Put your energy and creativity to making paintings with these strategies on one of the crucial commonalities — composition — in mind.
#1 Make no less than 4 composition drafts before you decide on one
Sometimes you know a painting when you see it or think of it. You get an idea and you make it happen. But there is also something to be said for teasing out all your available options before choosing one. For paintings, this is key.
Make several rough sketches of an idea you have for a painting, even if you think you know which one you want. Doing this shows you possibilities you might not have considered and breaks up our tendency to make habitual decisions instead of inspired ones.
#2 Don’t take your decisions for granted
“I love your art. You love your art. Now you need to let everyone else in on that bit of truth.” Your best painting composition will definitely bubble up to the surface if you paint with that mantra in mind. That means paint like you care. Be present in the decision-making process as you put brush to surface. And most importantly, paint like you will put that mantra into action.
The Splash Art Competition is going on right now and is themed around composition. Jurors will pay particular attention to the way a painting is arranged. If you paint like you love what you are doing (and I know you do) you’ll enter your work and everyone else will get to love it too. Just like our saying goes.
#3 Make something completely boring work really well
When a painting features a focal point that is front and center, the yawns come out. That is because this is a very elementary thing to do that beginners usually do without thinking. And yet it can totally work.
Jackie Dorsey’s painting features a figure front and center. I would have almost immediately lost interest if the white of the figure’s shirt did not blend with the white signage behind him, merging the two in a searing expanse of white that is totally unique.
The same can be said for Ryan Fox’s painting of Philadelphia’s city hall. The main focus of the work is predictably right in the middle of the work. But that’s not quite true. The slight sifts down and to the right of the focal point save the work from being too prissy and the fact that the peripheries of the painting go from deconstructed dark swirls of color to more structure and more light as we accelerate toward the center make the piece a knockout.
#4 Be mindful of how you repeat an object
In landscapes, figure paintings or still lifes — heck, even abstract paintings — you have to be hyper aware of what you are repeating and how. Painting the same thing several times in a painting is not a recipe for disaster. But it can be unless you repeat it smartly. Change the size of the object, the position of it or your color treatment of it.
#5 Let your composition do the heavy lifting for your message
I will be the first to tell you that I am not a superfan of pet paintings. Most tend to be really one-note. Brenda Cretney’s painting, Eye on the Ball, is a strong exception for several reasons. One being the energy of the animal’s body. From those “gimme-gimme” eyes to its alert stance to the brushstrokes standing in for the dog’s fur that all seem to scream alert readiness, the artist captured the “figure’s” expression completely.
That expression of readiness is everything for this painting. It is the entire message. The artist made the smart decision to let the dog’s body stand in for all that the painting is about–including the person holding the ball off the edge of the painting that is keeping the pup so fixated. The dog looms large, taking up the entire picture plane.
The shadow shape of the dog balance its body along with the flicks of brown paint to denote the ground, but the artist knew that putting the main figure as big as possible, foreshortening the animal’s body to let that appealing face and those pleading eyes do the work, was the right call.
Make a Splash
Showcase your talent by entering the Splash Competition, now in its 20th edition, taking entries right now. This exciting competition, brought to you by Artists Network, is dedicated to creative compositions, for which you are now well prepped.
And if you feel like you have a photo that would make a perfect painting in watercolor or otherwise that you’d love to create and possibly submit to one of our competitions, enjoy this video on how to work from photos the right way!