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  • Writer's picturecarolyn land

How Important is Composition?

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things but their inward significance” Aristotle

Mixed media painting by FL. artist Carolyn Land

“Times Bounty

A reader wrote and asked: “How important is composition?”  The above quote has sat on the corner of my desk all summer, and I have thought about it often as I have written.  Now I want to try and tie the question of composition, and the inward significance of art together.

Research does support that the purpose of art is to reveal deeper truths and insights, into things that we normally encounter on a day to day basis.  Art also records history by extending it to our visual language, and interprets it on an individual basis.  From the oldest art form, cave paintings, to 21st Century installations, it has told the story of rituals, religion, politics, and personal interpretation of nature and man’s interaction with it.  Therefore, an artist wants the viewer to get his point…understand his story, so to speak.

“The image is the most complete technique of all communication.”   Clais Oldenberg

So like an editor, edits a book, or a journalist edits his or her story, so must the artist edit and compose his work so his story is clear to the viewer.  Too much trivia in writing and the reader gets board.  To many things in a painting without a center of interest, and the viewer misses the point.

Robert Henri wrote in a letter to his class: “Try to reduce everything you see to the utmost simplicity.  That is, let nothing but the things which are of the utmost importance to you have any place”.

Use your Elements of Deign: line, shape, color, and texture, to render your work.  But strive for strong “Principles of Design” when you are completing it.  (Refer to Blog 19) Format your work, and place your center of interest in a sweet spot. Make your message clear and concise.

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