What Does the Composition Convey?

A portrait of my mother and daughter
A portrait of my mother and daughter

A composition, in many aspects, is the task of placing visual components on a canvas.  This may sound simple but may be, in fact, amazingly complex.  The arrangement of objects can convey diverse ideas and one has to decide what one is attempting to communicate to the viewer.  For example, a simple triangular composition with a long side parallel to the bottom of the canvas conveys stability, strength and security.  We see the basis of this composition in paintings like Michelangelo’s Holy Family.  There is much more thought behind composition than we initially recognize.  http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/michelangelo/holy-family-with-st-john-the-baptist-1506-1

 “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”

                                                          – Edgar Degas

English: "Self Portrait," by the Fre...
English: “Self Portrait,” by the French artist Edgar Degas, oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What thoughts are behind what you would like to create?  If the thought is simply to make objects of interest into something beautiful, then we think through what constitutes beauty.

We need not look further than nature to discover many lessons on beauty and composition.  Mountains generally were created with a heavy base and a small top.  Again, we think of the compositional tool of the triangle with its visual message of stability, strength and security.  It is no wonder that the Psalmist wrote,

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?       Psalm 121:1”

The next time you look at a painting you really enjoy, start to analyze the composition, and see what lessons you can learn from the artist and apply them in your paintings today.

English: "Three Dancers in Yellow Skirts&...
English: “Three Dancers in Yellow Skirts” by Edgar Degas, about 1891, Detroit Institute of Arts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3 thoughts on “What Does the Composition Convey?

  1. Do your paintings sometimes take an unexpected turn? The creative process seems to have both an intellectual path and then one that is more unexpected. Your thoughts?

    1. I think as we dig deeper in the creative process and as we seek God through reading the Bible and prayer that more is revealed to us that is reflected in our creative works. Certainly this comes out when a collection of creative works is seen together. It takes on certain flavors that we may not have realized were there. And that comes under the heading of “unexpected.” Good thought and question!

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