Friday, March 4, 2011

Comp 101

This is a page I found off It's originally from Arts Magazine, Nov 2006. It lists a few basic ways to plan a composition. I'm placing it here at the start of this blog as a reference, as I begin examining artworks, and to see how accurate this information is. I suspect there will be exceptions.

Click on the image and read through it. Note how the illustrations incorporate more than just one compositional device. Here are some questions I'd like to raise, and we'll revisit them in later blog posts.

  • Are there really compositional hot spots, based on geometric division of the picture plane, that make for good focal points? Does it make a composition better to place your focal points in these places?

  • What makes a focal point?

  • Can you really lead or trap the viewer's eye through your composition?

Dear Mr. Huffman: I'm having trouble replying to your comment through blogspot. I live abroad in Slovakia, and for some reason, ever since Blogspot updated (which it shouldn't have) I can't get blogs to keep the language in English. Every time I open one, even my own, I'm a guest user, with the langauge switched to Slovak. I can open my dashboard normally, write and edit new blogs, but I can't post comments. So here's what I wanted to tell you:

"I understand the need to simplify this topic for beginning art students, and in k-12 school, your time is so limited, with so many students at a time, that it's hard to go into this topic in-depth.
For me, composition is interesting in so far as the questions it raises:
1. When you look at your favorite artworks/images, why are they good? Is it the composition that does it? Or something else? An expression? A pose? The colors? etc, and yes I know those are all part of the composition, bla bla bla.
2. Of all the approaches to composition, which are the most applicable for an artist? Which lead to the best results? And how would thinking this way change your work?

1 comment:

  1. I teach high school art. In an effort to help make composition more 'concrete' for my foundations students, I came up with 3 categories for focal points. I believe all focal points fit into one of these categories.
    1. Contrast
    The focal point stands out due to difference. It's larger, brighter, square instead of round, etc.

    2. Psychological
    The focal point attracts attention because of what it is. People, faces, puppies, fast cars, or words like 'test today' or 'sex'.

    3. Leading the Eye
    Something else in the image points to the focal point. Radiating lines, framing, perspective vanishing points, or the gaze of other figures.

    This seems to cover it all, and it makes it much easier to explain.

    I really liked your analysis of the Faramir painting, by the way. Awesome stuff.