“In search for the perfect beginning,” quoted by Robert Henri, painter and teacher. Have you ever painted a painting and no matter how much detail or paint you put on it, it was destined for the trash. In the same respect, have you ever done a painting that was flowing so freely that you completed it in a no time? How important is the beginning of the painting? It is very, very, very, important. Did I say very? Yes if you don’t have good bones to the painting a good foundation to the painting in the very beginning, no matter what frills you add it will not work. Have you ever seen a small painting from afar and it carried; I mean the shapes, the patterns the values visible. So many times we believe that if we add more it will be a better painting, “First the dog then the fleas.” Less is definitely more.
So many of us don’t know the rules of a good composition. Now I don’t like rules, they are meant to be broken, but you must learn them first and then you may break them. I remember I once heard that prior to being 10 years old, we easily did great compositions, because we were using the right side of the brain. But, when our brain matures and the left-brain gets involved, we sensor, we forget what was innately part of our being. So, I guess we are back to learning some basic rules.
Now composition can be done with line, color, shape and value. An entire painting can be off, but you could balance it in the corner by a dominant splash of red. Or you can have a wonderful composition and the values are to close together, so if you squint your eyes it looks like one shape. Take a black and white photo of your painting and you will see the values. All of the above aspects are very important to give you the dynamic and fabulous painting you desire. Let me give you another example, Have you ever done a still life fruit and a vase of flowers? Is every object spread out? Or did you try overlapping some and maybe even going off the page with others, using the full canvas or paper.
There are endless aspects of a good composition, but it is amazing how when we see a great one, we all know it instantly. This is the foundation of a great painting. So, before you lay on any paint, check out the composition, search for your perfect beginning.