There are 5 elements of composition.
Back in May of 2014 I talked about proportion. Lets talk about movement.
When looking at a painting the viewer looks at the painting using saccadic eye movements.
As you can see in this example, when we look at a face, we are immediately drawn to the eyes. If your painting has a figure in the composition the viewer would be attracted to the figure first.
This presents two questions. Do we want to control the eye movement in our paintings, and if yes how do we do that?
I believe the answer to the first question is "yes". If my goal in painting is to communicate something to my viewer, I want to be as clear in my message as I can be.
The second question is more involved.
If I am painting a landscape or still life that does not have a figure in the composition, how can I control what the viewer will look at and the path that they will take within my painting?
The above image is a painting by Winslow Homer. It is one that I use often to explain the eye movement within a painting. The viewer will be immediately attracted to the figure, especially the face.
Homer created the effect of wind blowing by giving movement to the blue ribbons of the girl's hat in a specific direction which leads your eyes to the right.
Every composition has 4 main danger points -the 4 corners. These areas have a tendency to lead the viewer out of the composition. Homer's inclusion of a few tree branches not only stops your eye from leaving the picture but also to directs your eye down the right side of the painting.
The viewer is lead downward to the sheep which is looking inward back to the figure. To prevent the viewer from moving back to the face, a distinct line formed by the blowing hem of the girls dress, and curve of the hill, as well as the addition of another sheep leads the viewer past the figure and into the left side of the composition.
The almost unnoticed vertical grasses in the lower left corner stop the viewer from leaving the painting, and the contrast of the lights and darks in the clouds lead back to the face.
Movement therefore can be controlled by several means:
•Animation-people or animals attract the viewers attention.
•Contrast of values-darks next to lights.
•Line-anything arranged in a row.
•Color-the viewer is attracted to warm colors and colors that are intense.
My painting "Yondota Falls I" has been accepted into the Illinois Watercolor Society 31st National Exhibition which will be held at
The Next Picture Show Gallery in Dixon, IL.
Opening is May 1, 2015 and continues
through May 31, 2015.
Join us at the Artists Reception on May 9, 2015.
Entering the composition at the lower left side, the line takes the viewer to the waterfall.
The viewer can't help but be drawn to the waterfall, which has the lightest lights,
surrounded by the rocks which have the darkest darks.
The strong line and the high contrast in the fallen tree attracts the viewer to that area next.
The intensity of color leads the viewer to the upper center of the composition.
Line, contrast and color then leads the eye to the lower left.
Line and contrast in the rock shelf leads back into the composition.
And finally the line of the moving water takes the viewer back to the beginning to begin the journey again.The ultimate goal is to successfully capture the viewer within the composition, to encourage the viewer to travel throughout the entire painting again and again.