7 Ways to Get Your Compositions Right the First Time

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Composition is king! But the “how” of that ascension to the throne starts with basic steps — simple things you can do to put your painting compositions on the right path.

Here are seven lessons in the basic areas you should take into account when designing your composition — whether for a drawing or painting — all having to do somewhat with the importance of shapes. Thanks to artist Robert Reynolds for informing this list with a keen painter’s eye. It helped immensely.

1. Be aware of static shapes. The completely dark, opened doorway or window into a building can create static shapes that immediately become “visual traps.” Varying the static shapes with graduated tones can add interest and take away the static hole created.

2. Dividing a composition so it has a number of equal shapes, horizontally or vertically, can lead to a static composition as well. Be alert for horizontal or vertical lines that unintentionally slice a painting in half or break it up into equal shapes.

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