Question about a composition "rule"
Join the #1 Art Workshop - LevelUpJoin Premium Art Workshop

Results 1 to 27 of 27

Thread: Question about a composition "rule"

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Western Massachusetts
    Posts
    104
    Thanks
    46
    Thanked 23 Times in 16 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0

    Question about a composition "rule"

    I was reading a good article from wetcanvas.com on compositional rules in landscape paintings and encountered one I don't understand and that has no explanation. The statement is that one should never start a visual path (like a river or road) from a corner. For context, it's the first rule on this page.

    Why is starting a "visual path" from a corner detrimental to composition? I'm a bit confused and if someone could demonstrate with an example I'd be grateful.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    dancing with two Persian cats
    Posts
    468
    Thanks
    1,101
    Thanked 368 Times in 228 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Putting an edge at the frame of the picture is generally bad composition choice as it draws attention to the picture frame itself, and that gives the impression of some object stuck on top of the picture itself and breaks the illusion of the picture as a "window" into another reality.

    Obviously putting an edge on the corner is even worse because that necessarily draws more attention to it.

    Generally, it's called a tangent in a composition class.

    Add: For any picture that has perspective in it, you can think of the picture as a ""window" into another picture space, but the picture itself is a flat surface generally in the shape of a rectangle. The corner of 2D picture obviously has no meaning in the 3D picture space.

    When you're starting a path from the corner of the 2D picture, it looks like the path is actually starting from that corner, and that confuses the eye.

    Last edited by Aaron_; February 16th, 2012 at 04:42 PM.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  3. The Following User Says Thank You to Aaron_ For This Useful Post:


  4. #3
    dpaint's Avatar
    dpaint is offline Registered User Level 16 Gladiator: Spartacus' Retiarii
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,648
    Thanks
    2,622
    Thanked 5,878 Times in 2,354 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    No. Stay away from Wet Canvas, wannabe's and amateurs. 90% of the people on there handing out advice aren't professional artists. As a couple of examples that contradict that stupidity here is Len Chmiel and Richard Schmid two of the best Landscape painters in America right now

    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  5. The Following 10 Users Say Thank You to dpaint For This Useful Post:


  6. #4
    JeffX99's Avatar
    JeffX99 is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    5,234
    Thanks
    3,512
    Thanked 4,896 Times in 2,544 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Yep...you don't want important elements...such as a visual entry path to be in the corner...the "whys" are numerous. For one you don't want the viewer to have to mentally "shift" over to the corner to "enter" the image. Composition is subtle, yet powerful and primarily sub-conscious so you try to avoid anythnig that makes it difficult to enter the image... easy to leave...or confusing to discern.

    What would Caravaggio do?
    _________________________

    Portfolio
    Plein Air
    Digital
    Still Life
    Sight Measuring
    Fundamentals
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  7. The Following User Says Thank You to JeffX99 For This Useful Post:


  8. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Nottingham UK
    Posts
    1,378
    Thanks
    492
    Thanked 1,248 Times in 588 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    No. Stay away from Wet Canvas, wannabe's and amateurs. 90% of the people on there handing out advice aren't professional artists. As a couple of examples that contradict that stupidity here is Len Chmiel and Richard Schmid two of the best Landscape painters in America right now
    Sorry dpaint, both of those example follow their correct version (fig23) rather than fig 22 - I think they're talking about starting your line in the corner.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  9. #6
    JeffX99's Avatar
    JeffX99 is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    5,234
    Thanks
    3,512
    Thanked 4,896 Times in 2,544 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Yeah....they were pointing out the more specific tangent problem of the stream's edge right in the corner, rather than the more braod entry point and lead-in path.

    What would Caravaggio do?
    _________________________

    Portfolio
    Plein Air
    Digital
    Still Life
    Sight Measuring
    Fundamentals
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  10. The Following User Says Thank You to JeffX99 For This Useful Post:


  11. #7
    dpaint's Avatar
    dpaint is offline Registered User Level 16 Gladiator: Spartacus' Retiarii
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,648
    Thanks
    2,622
    Thanked 5,878 Times in 2,354 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    Sorry dpaint, both of those example follow their correct version (fig23) rather than fig 22 - I think they're talking about starting your line in the corner.
    So what. I can do this all day...more Schmid and Chmiel. Did I say amateurs, I meant rank amateurs

    Attached Images Attached Images        
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  12. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to dpaint For This Useful Post:


  13. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Nottingham UK
    Posts
    1,378
    Thanks
    492
    Thanked 1,248 Times in 588 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    So what. I can do this all day...more Schmid and Chmiel. Did I say amateurs, I meant rank amateurs
    Wasn't having a go, I was just pointing out your examples were flawed (in response to the original post)

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  14. #9
    dpaint's Avatar
    dpaint is offline Registered User Level 16 Gladiator: Spartacus' Retiarii
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,648
    Thanks
    2,622
    Thanked 5,878 Times in 2,354 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    Wasn't having a go, I was just pointing out your examples were flawed (in response to the original post)
    No problem.

    The ideas laid out are just wrong; there are no rules in composition except this. You want to make the viewer look where you want them to look, how you achieve that is up to you. I can show you 100 bad paintings using "correct" compositional theory.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  15. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to dpaint For This Useful Post:


  16. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Western Massachusetts
    Posts
    104
    Thanks
    46
    Thanked 23 Times in 16 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Yeah....they were pointing out the more specific tangent problem of the stream's edge right in the corner, rather than the more braod entry point and lead-in path.
    OH! I think this is exactly where my confusion was too. I could not understand why the example given was improved, I tried staring at it in a mirror too and just could not see why it was better. I think this is it.

    ETA
    I should add, thank you everyone who has responded, a lot of food for thought here.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  17. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Nottingham UK
    Posts
    1,378
    Thanks
    492
    Thanked 1,248 Times in 588 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    No problem.

    The ideas laid out are just wrong; there are no rules in composition except this. You want to make the viewer look where you want them to look, how you achieve that is up to you. I can show you 100 bad paintings using "correct" compositional theory.
    I agree with you - to be honest there's times when I think if you apply all the 'rules' of composition you find in books, on the net, being taught, you'll go mad and end up with a dead picture.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  18. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Venger For This Useful Post:


  19. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,972
    Thanks
    1,331
    Thanked 1,923 Times in 757 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    The best rule for achieving a totally balanced, perfect composition...

    Keep your brushes and paint in the box and leave the beautiful, blank, white rectangle just as it is.

    From Gegarin's point of view
    http://www.chrisbennettartist.co.uk/
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  20. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    2,002
    Thanks
    891
    Thanked 1,010 Times in 539 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Well I think you need to at least establish a focal point.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-AiXz2a_kI3.../Red%2BDot.jpg


    There we go.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  21. The Following User Says Thank You to JFierce For This Useful Post:


  22. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    dancing with two Persian cats
    Posts
    468
    Thanks
    1,101
    Thanked 368 Times in 228 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    No problem.

    The ideas laid out are just wrong; there are no rules in composition except this. You want to make the viewer look where you want them to look, how you achieve that is up to you. I can show you 100 bad paintings using "correct" compositional theory.
    That's very interesting. Some of examples you posted would indeed be wrong according to the rules I learned in class, but those tangents really do pull your eyes very effectively. The second painting you posted is a very elegant example of that.

    Somebody once showed a Danish landscape painter who absolutely insists on putting an edge right in the dead center of his paintings, and those paintings feel very solid compositionally too.

    Still, before learning composition, people do tend to create tangents or put things dead center unknowingly, and that ruins composition much more often than not. So I guess those rules are there for a reason, not that you can't break them after learning them.

    Last edited by Aaron_; February 16th, 2012 at 06:54 PM.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  23. The Following User Says Thank You to Aaron_ For This Useful Post:


  24. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Western Massachusetts
    Posts
    104
    Thanks
    46
    Thanked 23 Times in 16 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by continue View Post
    Still, before learning composition, people do tend to create tangents or put things dead center unknowingly, and that ruins composition much more often than not. So I guess those rules are there for a reason, not that you can't break them after learning them.
    This is my thoughts as I learn. I need to start somewhere, and "anything goes" is not somewhere, and is not at all helpful to a beginner. I'm not learning the rules so that I never do anything else, I'm purposely learning WHY each is important, so at least if I'm breaking them I know what the result will be.

    I'm using articles like the above to learn because I didn't even know to look for a lot that is mentioned. A few of the "rules" gave me ideas as to why previous works of mine didn't work out, even though I couldn't put a finger on it before.

    Last edited by Stormslegacy; February 16th, 2012 at 07:26 PM. Reason: broken code
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  25. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    WA State
    Posts
    2,364
    Thanks
    796
    Thanked 1,273 Times in 887 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    So what. I can do this all day...more Schmid and Chmiel. Did I say amateurs, I meant rank amateurs
    I haven't lurked that site in awhile. But, it's sort of like Deviant-Art-For-Elderly-People-Who-Like-To-Paint-From-Photographs.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  26. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Kamber Parrk For This Useful Post:


  27. #17
    dpaint's Avatar
    dpaint is offline Registered User Level 16 Gladiator: Spartacus' Retiarii
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,648
    Thanks
    2,622
    Thanked 5,878 Times in 2,354 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Stormslegacy View Post
    This is my thoughts as I learn. I need to start somewhere, and "anything goes" is not somewhere, and is not at all helpful to a beginner. I'm not learning the rules so that I never do anything else, I'm purposely learning WHY each is important, so at least if I'm breaking them I know what the result will be.

    I'm using articles like the above to learn because I didn't even know to look for a lot that is mentioned. A few of the "rules" gave me ideas as to why previous works of mine didn't work out, even though I couldn't put a finger on it before.
    You arent thinking about it in the correct way. The rule, if you want to call it that, is you emphasize the center of interest and deemphasize the rest of the painting so as not compete with it. If your eye goes to a corner when you don't want it to, its because you haven't got a strong enough focal point, not because you have a lead in at the corner.

    Sayings like, don't put something in the corner or in the center or don't divide your canvas in half, can't be rules because they can't know how the elements of the painting are organised for every possible painting.

    They are incorrect sayings by people who have no understanding of painting. They are lazy truisms by lazy painters. Just like don't use black or everything in the distance turns to blue or the term muddy color.

    Last edited by dpaint; February 16th, 2012 at 07:56 PM.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  28. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to dpaint For This Useful Post:


  29. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Western Massachusetts
    Posts
    104
    Thanks
    46
    Thanked 23 Times in 16 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    You arent thinking about it in the correct way. The rule, if you want to call it that, is you emphasize the center of interest and deemphasize the rest of the painting so as not compete with it. If your eye goes to a corner when you don't want it to, its because you haven't got a strong enough focal point, not because you have a lead in at the corner.

    Sayings like, don't put something in the corner or in the center or don't divide your canvas in half, can't be rules because they can't know how the elements of the painting are organised for every possible painting.

    They are incorrect sayings by people who have no understanding of painting. They are lazy truisms by lazy painters. Just like don't use black or everything in the distance turns to blue or the term muddy color.
    *thinks of best way to explain* That's why I keep using quotations around the word rule. I understand what you are saying, but as a beginner, I'm still learning *how* to emphasize parts. That's actually something that until recently I was having a *lot* of difficulty doing. Your posts are confusing me, not enlightening for this reason. I'm not studying composition to learn 3 easy steps to a good painting, it's that I'm overwhelmed and need a place to start.

    I've never been under the impression that "rules" are there so that people never break them, it's that you need to start somewhere and they are places beginner often run into trouble. They're very simplified to help get an idea across, not sacred things.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  30. #19
    JeffX99's Avatar
    JeffX99 is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    5,234
    Thanks
    3,512
    Thanked 4,896 Times in 2,544 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I would recommend an inxpensive book that is great for understanding composition - "Drawing Scenery" by Jack Hamm. Go through it and sit there with a stack of paper and basically do your own versions of everything he talks about.

    What would Caravaggio do?
    _________________________

    Portfolio
    Plein Air
    Digital
    Still Life
    Sight Measuring
    Fundamentals
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  31. The Following User Says Thank You to JeffX99 For This Useful Post:


  32. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    737
    Thanks
    477
    Thanked 497 Times in 270 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    I would recommend an inxpensive book that is great for understanding composition - "Drawing Scenery" by Jack Hamm. Go through it and sit there with a stack of paper and basically do your own versions of everything he talks about.
    Okay. I've seen this book recommended enough that now I HAVE to buy it.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  33. #21
    Elwell's Avatar
    Elwell is offline Sticks Like Grim Death Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Hudson River valley, NY
    Posts
    16,212
    Thanks
    4,879
    Thanked 16,666 Times in 5,020 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    The thing with compositional elements is that they don't exist in isolation. The common compositional "mistakes" are "mistakes" because, on their own, they draw an unwanted amount of the viewer's attention. But if other elements are used to make sure that they don't draw an unwanted amount of the viewer's attention, then they aren't mistakes.


    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

    Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!

    "Work is more fun than fun."
    -John Cale

    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
    -Marc Maron
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  34. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Elwell For This Useful Post:


  35. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    WA State
    Posts
    2,364
    Thanks
    796
    Thanked 1,273 Times in 887 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Alice Herring View Post
    Okay. I've seen this book recommended enough that now I HAVE to buy it.
    Well, dear Alice, in the spirit of "fair use" in continuity of this discussion, and to promote the Gospel of Hamm, so that others might be persuaded to part with the sum of 13.95 USD (or 1/2 that at MY favorite store "Half Price Books")-- have a pertinent serving of Hamm:

    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  36. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to Kamber Parrk For This Useful Post:


  37. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Western Massachusetts
    Posts
    104
    Thanks
    46
    Thanked 23 Times in 16 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    I would recommend an inxpensive book that is great for understanding composition - "Drawing Scenery" by Jack Hamm. Go through it and sit there with a stack of paper and basically do your own versions of everything he talks about.
    I will do so. Thank you for the recommendation

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  38. #24
    JeffX99's Avatar
    JeffX99 is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    5,234
    Thanks
    3,512
    Thanked 4,896 Times in 2,544 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    One also has to remember that Len Chmiel can kill a bear with his, well, bare hands. While painting. And drinking Pabst.

    Edit: He literally does stuff like that road painting and snowy stream going to the corners just to piss people off. Do not fuck with him.

    What would Caravaggio do?
    _________________________

    Portfolio
    Plein Air
    Digital
    Still Life
    Sight Measuring
    Fundamentals
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  39. The Following User Says Thank You to JeffX99 For This Useful Post:


  40. #25
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Washington, US
    Posts
    1,194
    Thanks
    1,571
    Thanked 716 Times in 343 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    This is valuable too, I highly recommend it. Plus it supports CA.org. And hey, if you act now, you can take advantage of the $6.99 download sale! That's a freakin' good deal!

    http://theartdepartment.org/download...ey-composition

    My Sketchbook

    And then God said, "Let us make man in our likeness and our image. Let us make him ridiculously hard to draw so that poor artists everywhere will have to spend 10,000+ hours failing repeatedly before they can begin to capture the form and likeness onto a two-dimensional surface." And there was man. And it was good. And artists everywhere lost their minds.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  41. #26
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Gdansk, Poland
    Posts
    4,834
    Thanks
    887
    Thanked 1,568 Times in 754 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    In the last months I was experimenting a lot with composition and I find that it's less about rules and more about occurences which you can use either for your advantage or against it.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  42. #27
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Newbury, UK
    Posts
    266
    Thanks
    13
    Thanked 94 Times in 59 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    mmm, i likes them apples, dpaint. i could lick the paint right off that one.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

Members who have read this thread: 1

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •