I had read some time ago a little book by Bernard Dunstan called Composing Your Painting. Although I am now doing the Mixed Media section of the OCA course I thought I would look at the book again to see if any of the observations would apply to Abstract paintings and collage work.
I paraphrase below some of the essential elements to good composition as outlined in the book and have concluded that regardless of whether the painting is a traditional representational picture or an abstract image, all the elements apply. The book doesn't mention texture very much, so I have added that myself. I have given details of the book in the footnote in case other students viewing this page may be interested in obtaining a copy of the book.
- Volumes, large and smaller ones balanced
- Tone – Light against dark and vice versa
- Golden Section
- Linear framework – divisions in work by thirds, fifths, eighths etc.
- Shapes in tonal areas to add interest
- Use of colour to identify tone, small against large
- Warm v Cool, warm in cool areas and cool in warm areas
- Neutrals, i.e. greys, creams
- Rhythm and movement through brushstrokes and texture
- Static composition – symmetrical
- Soft directional lines – les movement
- Hard directional lines – more movement
- Short directional lines connecting to others – more interesting
- Right Angles and echoes locking and stabilizing effect or thrust and movement
- Curved movement: energy; guiding eye left to right, place animal or human looking in a certain direction
- Counter directions to add interest
- Repetition: unity, movement
- Lost and found lines
- Texture, rough v smooth, tonal - ie visual