Learn How Artists Develop the Composition of Their Paintings

There are several ways that artists develop painting composition. These include thumbnail sketching

Thumbnail sketches are quick drawing that is done in a rapid way that is known as gestural drawing. These are tiny drawings that the large work will be based on later.

These drawings are also usually very small – maybe an inch or two in width and breadth. Mainly thumbnail sketches are used as memory aids and as a way of planning painting composition.

Often these sketches are also filled in with color or hatched with shading but they are never bogged down with unnecessary detail.

Thumbnail sketches are also sometimes called “working drawings” although in theory a working drawing could also be much larger. Some artists to prefer to create their pieces from working drawings that are almost as large as the final piece.

The key is to not put too much detail into the working drawing. Detail is saved for the actual work of art that you are trying to create while using the working drawing as a reference.

Lesson one for most artists who want to learn composition is to draw a still life. This is the typical “bowl of fruit” or “vase of flowers” that is set on a table. As an artist you must replicate these objects on your sketch pad.

The traditional still life drawing is fruit and crockery. Fruit is a good choice because it is so easy to draw. Including wine bottles as part of your still life composition is also good. You can make an interesting still life using other objects such as spectacles, candles or animal horns. However try not to use objects that entail a lot of detailed attention.

If your still life is taking a long time you can take pictures of it. This may be necessary to keep the integrity of your painting composition which may be affected by decay or changing light. Having some control of the light by shedding your own light source on the still life can help you keep everything stable so that it is easier to draw.

No matter what the subject matter is the point is to arrange the composition so that it is attractive. It is a mistake to try and make everything balanced and even. Central positioning is just not that attractive. In drawing composition there are no real rules, just an eye for what is going to look good in the end.

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