Many artists believe that good composition cannot be taught. That is true to a certain extent because there are no definite or absolute rules.
However, there are some basic concepts that will help you arrange objects in your paintings in a more visually pleasing way.
I have five principles of composition: balance, unity, movement, proportion, and emphasis. You have heard of some of these terms before because they are fundamental principles of many other artists and art instructors.
To help you remember these principles, I coined the acronym “BUMPE”. I have been teaching this method of creating good compositions for over 40 years.
Lets look at the first principle: Balance.
A good composition should have near equal amounts of positive and negative spaces. Positive space is any space that has form, or is three-dimensional, or can be related to the 5 basic solid geometric shapes, which are the cone, cylinder, sphere, cube, and ribbon.
Negative space is the space that has no form or dimension, or is flat.
In some cases dark objects with a light background are seen as positive space.
The photograph of the rocks by the ocean and the black and white version shows the positive space as black and the negative space as white.
Lessons that I have learned
Over the past 42 years I have had, as a teacher many questions about drawing and painting I've had to research. The answers to these questions are a combination of my own thoughts, those of fellow teachers and artists, and literature research.
Although there are no absolutes in the world of art, some basic concepts are stepping stones to guide the artist in achieving their own unique art.
I will be posting lessons on Composition, color, linear perspective, techniques and procedures.
An edge is created when two values or colors that are different are placed next to one another.
Edges can be hard or soft. When the values or colors are very different, the edge is hard. When the values or colors are similar, the edge is soft.
In general, soft objects should have soft edges and hard objects should have hard edges.
As an art student, I was told that no more than one third of and edge should be hard. I now teach my students that no more than one tenth of an edge should be hard.
That principle is in the pursuit of painting in a realistic manner.