The "Paintings that Break Conventional Composition But Still Work" Thread
Join the #1 Art Workshop - LevelUpJoin Premium Art Workshop

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 73

Thread: The "Paintings that Break Conventional Composition But Still Work" Thread

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    1,881
    Thanks
    1,455
    Thanked 1,434 Times in 746 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0

    The "Paintings that Break Conventional Composition But Still Work" Thread

    What the title says. Just thought it would be a good idea to get a thread full of paintings that have unusual but successful compositions. We've all heard "rules" of do's and don't's of composition, and we've all seen paintings that break those and still somehow work.


    EDIT: As requested by Kev, here is a list of some of the "conventions" that are being discussed/broken:
    1-don't locate an element like a bullseye dead center
    2-don't split the canvas in half
    3-don't put a big nothing in the center of the canvas
    4-don't make the focal point unclear/cropped/on the edge of the canvas
    5-avoid tangents
    6-point the eye to the focal point/don't use diagonals to point to nothing
    7-don't crop limbs off in a manner that makes it looked severed as opposed to simply going outside the view of the canvas






    For example, this Schmid (actually by Bongart as correctly pointed out by dpaint) painting is chopped in two right across the middle.
    Name:  Schmid.jpg
Views: 1549
Size:  49.1 KB




    And this Payne painting is basically a giant flat area all the way across with a ridiculously bright focal point squished awkwardly at the top...
    Name:  EdgarPayne.jpeg
Views: 1617
Size:  470.5 KB




    ...yet both of the above paintings work beautifully. Now I wanna see more! Feel free to post as many paintings as you like! I'm particularly curious as to whether it is possible to have a good painting with NO focal point (and not have it purely abstract).

    Last edited by Andrew Sonea; March 23rd, 2012 at 11:38 AM.
    Website
    Sketchbook
    Blog

    "Complacency is the womb of mediocrity. " -- Jason Manley

    "If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." -- Bruce Lee
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  2. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to Andrew Sonea For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
    Ian Miles's Avatar
    Ian Miles is offline Leave you message after press enter key. Level 5 Gladiator: Myrmillo
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Spa.
    Posts
    337
    Thanks
    495
    Thanked 397 Times in 106 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Two from Goya





    Sketchbook is one click away:
    Never forget the Magicman
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  4. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to Ian Miles For This Useful Post:


  5. #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
    The painting of the blankets is a Segei Bongart, not a Schmid just for the record. But it does bisect the canvas

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  6. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to dpaint For This Useful Post:


  7. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    4,543
    Thanks
    2,307
    Thanked 2,122 Times in 871 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    This is a famous example. By Degas.



    And that Goya drawing is REALLY cool! I don't know if I'm alone in this but it makes me feel like the bull charged all the way from the left and so it gives the piece a lot of dynamic movement.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  8. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to OldJake666 For This Useful Post:


  9. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    1,881
    Thanks
    1,455
    Thanked 1,434 Times in 746 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Great start people! (And thanks dpaint for pointing that out...I was sure it was Schmid for some reason, maybe he has a painting that looks like that)

    Here's another one, focal point dead center and no lead ins and nothing extends past the border of the canvas. Jeremy Geddes:

    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Website
    Sketchbook
    Blog

    "Complacency is the womb of mediocrity. " -- Jason Manley

    "If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." -- Bruce Lee
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

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


  11. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,972
    Thanks
    1,331
    Thanked 1,923 Times in 757 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Two from Mark Shields and one from Euan Uglow...

    Name:  SHI5Leave.jpg
Views: 1425
Size:  33.9 KB

    Name:  SHI16By%20theRiver.jpg
Views: 1434
Size:  43.4 KB

    Name:  uglow1.jpg
Views: 1794
Size:  288.5 KB

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

  12. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Chris Bennett For This Useful Post:


  13. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Boise, ID
    Posts
    1,238
    Thanks
    889
    Thanked 1,535 Times in 567 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Kobryn View Post
    This is a famous example. By Degas.



    And that Goya drawing is REALLY cool! I don't know if I'm alone in this but it makes me feel like the bull charged all the way from the left and so it gives the piece a lot of dynamic movement.
    Which rules does this break and if it does the rule should be trashed?

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  14. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Boise, ID
    Posts
    1,238
    Thanks
    889
    Thanked 1,535 Times in 567 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Greg did a song and dance for my students. When this image came up I asked if the thorn branch was for the spine. He smiled and said no I just broke the rules. And went on to regale my students about the importance of rule breaking. He did it just to get at me. I interrupted and told my students that if they bisected their pieces down the middle I would give them Fs.

    Greg Manchess
    "Sky People"

    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  15. The Following 12 Users Say Thank You to bcarman For This Useful Post:

    + Show/Hide list of the thanked


  16. #9
    Ohaeri's Avatar
    Ohaeri is offline Cranky? Yep, that's me. Level 5 Gladiator: Myrmillo
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    436
    Thanks
    269
    Thanked 103 Times in 68 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    Greg did a song and dance for my students. When this image came up I asked if the thorn branch was for the spine. He smiled and said no I just broke the rules. And went on to regale my students about the importance of rule breaking. He did it just to get at me. I interrupted and told my students that if they bisected their pieces down the middle I would give them Fs.

    Greg Manchess
    "Sky People"
    It looks kind of like a diptych; I think that's why it works. On the one side you have modern space marines, and on the other you have a space ship that looks a bit like a rock formation and a dinosaur. Taken separately they make different pictures than together.

    (felt the need to articulate that)

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  17. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    canada, from russia
    Posts
    3,370
    Thanks
    791
    Thanked 443 Times in 357 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I am really clueless about composition, and would like to know what is unconventional about these two?



    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  18. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    So-Cal
    Posts
    3,427
    Thanks
    2,994
    Thanked 1,779 Times in 848 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I can't speak for the top one, so I'll leave it to someone else.

    The Geddes painting puts the focal point smack dab in the center, Which is supposedly a dull move. In theory the eye is going to go there, stop and move on. But I don't care I could waste a whole afternoon drooling over that piece.

    BCarman
    The Degas Piece leads you off the canvas. It's like the focal point is an inch to the right of the frame. And it leads there with so much intensity makes the painting hard to look at. I'm pretty sure there is a rule about keeping the focal point on the canvas. I like it because it forces the viewer to use their imagination.

    Last edited by Raoul Duke; March 21st, 2012 at 11:10 PM.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  19. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Raoul Duke For This Useful Post:


  20. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    481
    Thanks
    539
    Thanked 395 Times in 174 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Morandi breaks rules on the daily...

    Name:  1862838727.jpg
Views: 1292
Size:  25.4 KB

    Name:  immagine2Dpresentazione.jpg
Views: 1259
Size:  12.8 KB

    Name:  Giorgio-Morandi-Natura-1952-15671.jpg
Views: 1297
Size:  9.6 KB

    Name:  Morandi_tuesday.1997.jpg
Views: 1423
Size:  13.8 KB

    Name:  morandi-giorgio-1890-1964-ital-natura-morta-2183208.jpg
Views: 1303
Size:  22.4 KB

    Name:  MorandiLucas.jpg
Views: 1293
Size:  32.4 KB

    "Contrary to the belief of the layman, the essential of art is not to imitate nature, but under the guise of imitation to stir up excitement with pure plastic elements: measurements, directions, ornaments, lights, values, colors, substances, divided and organized according to the injunctions of natural laws. While so occupied, the artist never ceases to be subservient to nature, but instead of imitating the incidents in a paltry way, he imitates the laws."-Andre Lhote

    Web, FineArt, Sketchbook
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  21. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to jpacer For This Useful Post:


  22. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    2,002
    Thanks
    891
    Thanked 1,010 Times in 539 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    The degas kind of does with the way the stair twists but other than that. My eye curves up the stairs to the dancers, her arm is pointing to the right, travels down the man into the other group of people. Pretty effective composition imo *shrugs*.



    The one with the men grouped together I don't find very odd either. The entire painting is based on the focal point of the ball of dudes. Even travels around the ball itself.


    Composition is about leading the eye no? Seems the only ones that truly break that rule are the ones dividing the painting pretty much. It doesn't mean it's always a bad thing. The thorn painting clearly separates for good reason imo. You look at the men exploring and the the dangers present on the other section. Even the Payne painting with the bright saturated rocks, my eye lands on them but the reflection leads me down, hell the entire movement of the water leads me down to that rock towards the bottom.




    It's how my eye moves at least

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  23. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    So-Cal
    Posts
    3,427
    Thanks
    2,994
    Thanked 1,779 Times in 848 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I love the offbeat compositions Bernie Fuchs did.



    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  24. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Raoul Duke For This Useful Post:


  25. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    canada, from russia
    Posts
    3,370
    Thanks
    791
    Thanked 443 Times in 357 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Raoul

    But putting that focus dead centre is how people often paint or photograph closeup portraits, with the face right in the middle.



    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  26. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Boise, ID
    Posts
    1,238
    Thanks
    889
    Thanked 1,535 Times in 567 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Raoul Duke View Post
    I can't speak for the top one, so I'll leave it to someone else.

    The Geddes painting puts the focal point smack dab in the center, Which is supposedly a dull move. In theory the eye is going to go there, stop and move on. But I don't care I could waste a whole afternoon drooling over that piece.

    BCarman
    The Degas Piece leads you off the canvas. It's like the focal point is an inch to the right of the frame. And it leads there with so much intensity makes the painting hard to look at. I'm pretty sure there is a rule about keeping the focal point on the canvas. I like it because it forces the viewer to use their imagination.
    I'm going to disagree 100% with your interpretation of the Degas piece. The focal point does not lead one off the format because shapes keep pulling os on.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  27. #17
    kev ferrara is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Fallingwater
    Posts
    5,059
    Thanks
    1,516
    Thanked 5,150 Times in 1,700 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    This thread needs a list of compositional "conventions" in order to make sense. Preferably added to the first post.

    So far I see "don't locate an element like a bullseye dead center" & "don't split the canvas in half" & "don't put a big nothing in the center of the canvas."

    It's also too good a thread for the lounge and should be in the AD section.

    At least Icarus tried!


    My Process: Dead Rider Graphic Novel (Dark Horse Comics) plus oil paintings, pencils and other goodies:
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=101106

    My "Smilechild" Music. Plus a medley of Commercial Music Cues and a Folksy Jingle!:
    http://www.myspace.com/kevferrara
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  28. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to kev ferrara For This Useful Post:


  29. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    So-Cal
    Posts
    3,427
    Thanks
    2,994
    Thanked 1,779 Times in 848 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    bcarman-At least for me I am drawn to the huddle on the right and it's cropped off.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  30. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,972
    Thanks
    1,331
    Thanked 1,923 Times in 757 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Pavel Sokov View Post
    I am really clueless about composition, and would like to know what is unconventional about these two?
    Since I posted the Uglow I'll sort you out! :
    There is no focal point, everything is treated with equal parity. At best it is the blue triangle of empty space between her body - but the moment you focus on it - it shoves you back out, since your eye finds no food there.

    Other, less important points about it:
    The 'weight' of the picture is balanced at the top.
    The diagonals point to nothing specific.
    The models 'gaze' is counter to the thrust of the painting - that is; down and out through the bottom.

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

  31. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Chris Bennett For This Useful Post:


  32. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    4,543
    Thanks
    2,307
    Thanked 2,122 Times in 871 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Raoul Duke View Post
    bcarman-At least for me I am drawn to the huddle on the right and it's cropped off.
    I agree, and it's odd in that there's nothing to immediately focus on inbetween the stairs and the group of people on the right.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  33. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    1,881
    Thanks
    1,455
    Thanked 1,434 Times in 746 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Pavel Sokov View Post
    Raoul

    But putting that focus dead centre is how people often paint or photograph closeup portraits, with the face right in the middle.
    Your example does have the focal point in the center, but most portraits are not closeups like that and are not placed dead center. The major difference, however, is that in your example with the portrait there is still the neck/shoulders that reach the edge of the canvas and extend beyond it. In the Geddes and Morandi examples the focal point and subject matter is ENTIRELY isolated on ALL sides, which typically is very artificial and awkward looking.




    And while I'm posting here I might as well add another image to the thread. This example I was a little hesitant to post since I personally don't really like it... but it is one of the most popular images of an incredibly influential illustrator, so I might as well show it, at least to show people/spark discussion. This breaks the rule of "avoid tangents"-- crammed in are more tangents than I thought possible for a single image. Howard Pyle:
    Name:  Pyle.jpg
Views: 1105
Size:  63.3 KB

    Last edited by Andrew Sonea; March 22nd, 2012 at 09:19 PM.
    Website
    Sketchbook
    Blog

    "Complacency is the womb of mediocrity. " -- Jason Manley

    "If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." -- Bruce Lee
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  34. The Following User Says Thank You to Andrew Sonea For This Useful Post:


  35. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Boise, ID
    Posts
    1,238
    Thanks
    889
    Thanked 1,535 Times in 567 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Kobryn View Post
    I agree, and it's odd in that there's nothing to immediately focus on inbetween the stairs and the group of people on the right.
    Except space.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  36. The Following User Says Thank You to bcarman For This Useful Post:


  37. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    canada, from russia
    Posts
    3,370
    Thanks
    791
    Thanked 443 Times in 357 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Chris

    Whenever something is diagonal, that line should be pointing to an object of some sort?

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  38. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    2,002
    Thanks
    891
    Thanked 1,010 Times in 539 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Diagonals give a feeling of movement if I'm not mistaken, your eye doesn't rest on a diagonal very well imo.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  39. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    So-Cal
    Posts
    3,427
    Thanks
    2,994
    Thanked 1,779 Times in 848 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I can't believe we haven't brought up Phil Hale. He really makes composition his bitch.



    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  40. The Following User Says Thank You to Raoul Duke For This Useful Post:


  41. #26
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    481
    Thanks
    539
    Thanked 395 Times in 174 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I guess I should have said it when I first posted, but I showed the Morandis more for how he plays with tangents and messes around with figure/ground relationships while having several objects coincide on the same lines, etc.

    Anyway, regarding the Degas... It appears to me as if he has the mass of figures to the right echoing the shape of the spiral staircase on the left, so they fit together almost like puzzle pieces. I don't know if that's what's helping the piece work or if I'm completely imagining things, which admittedly happens often. I just figured I'd throw that thought out there since it's been on my mind for a little while now.

    Name:  degas_analysis_1.jpg
Views: 1080
Size:  106.5 KB

    "Contrary to the belief of the layman, the essential of art is not to imitate nature, but under the guise of imitation to stir up excitement with pure plastic elements: measurements, directions, ornaments, lights, values, colors, substances, divided and organized according to the injunctions of natural laws. While so occupied, the artist never ceases to be subservient to nature, but instead of imitating the incidents in a paltry way, he imitates the laws."-Andre Lhote

    Web, FineArt, Sketchbook
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  42. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to jpacer For This Useful Post:


  43. #27
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    canada, from russia
    Posts
    3,370
    Thanks
    791
    Thanked 443 Times in 357 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I'm going to try this even though I don't have a clue.

    But this composition seems unusual. I presume you aren't supposed to cut the main characters head with the side of your canvas, right?

    Phil Hale


    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  44. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Pavel Sokov For This Useful Post:


  45. #28
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Boise, ID
    Posts
    1,238
    Thanks
    889
    Thanked 1,535 Times in 567 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by jpacer View Post
    I guess I should have said it when I first posted, but I showed the Morandis more for how he plays with tangents and messes around with figure/ground relationships while having several objects coincide on the same lines, etc.

    Anyway, regarding the Degas... It appears to me as if he has the mass of figures to the right echoing the shape of the spiral staircase on the left, so they fit together almost like puzzle pieces. I don't know if that's what's helping the piece work or if I'm completely imagining things, which admittedly happens often. I just figured I'd throw that thought out there since it's been on my mind for a little while now.

    Name:  degas_analysis_1.jpg
Views: 1080
Size:  106.5 KB
    You see that. The problem with drawing lines of composition is that I can draw fifty others that would relate to different stresses and shapes. I'm still not getting the rule that is being broken. Maybe it's best, like kev said, that we list the rules we think are sacrosanct in the eyes of composition masters then we can have a better discussion.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  46. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to bcarman For This Useful Post:


  47. #29
    kev ferrara is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Fallingwater
    Posts
    5,059
    Thanks
    1,516
    Thanked 5,150 Times in 1,700 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    You see that. The problem with drawing lines of composition is that I can draw fifty others that would relate to different stresses and shapes. I'm still not getting the rule that is being broken. Maybe it's best, like kev said, that we list the rules we think are sacrosanct in the eyes of composition masters then we can have a better discussion.
    No, the rules are held to be sacrosanct by the mediocrities, not the masters. Mediocrities are always at the level of trying to master the "conventions" of a form, because they can't do "inventions." And they at least want to be able to create standard-level work.

    You might say the Degas has no obvious focal point, which would fall under #4 on Andrew's list in the first post.

    There's also a convention that one shouldn't cut off a limb at the edge of canvas where, at first glance, it would look as if the limb were severed, rather than merely off-screen. Generally this refers to a bisection of the forearm at the canvas edge, where the wrist and hand are all that is missing.

    Another convention that hasn't been touched upon is pointing the eye toward the focal center. I don't remember if that's one covered by Armand/Dpaint on his blog Art and Influence, which I assume was the impetus for this thread.

    At least Icarus tried!


    My Process: Dead Rider Graphic Novel (Dark Horse Comics) plus oil paintings, pencils and other goodies:
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=101106

    My "Smilechild" Music. Plus a medley of Commercial Music Cues and a Folksy Jingle!:
    http://www.myspace.com/kevferrara
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  48. The Following User Says Thank You to kev ferrara For This Useful Post:


  49. #30
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,972
    Thanks
    1,331
    Thanked 1,923 Times in 757 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Pavel Sokov View Post
    Chris

    Whenever something is diagonal, that line should be pointing to an object of some sort?
    Well, a diagonal by its very nature stresses a direction. Like someone saying 'HEY, LOOK!'. We turn our heads and expect to see something. If we don't, the guy doing the shouting better have a good explanation for disappointing our expectation.
    Uglow does just this. It's what the painting is about. The model's shape is like a crazy Egyptian heliograph; a sphinx of nowhere to go.

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

  50. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Chris Bennett For This Useful Post:


Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast

Members who have read this thread: 0

There are no members to list at the moment.

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
  •