Composition in Painting

Posted by | June 18, 2012 | 0 Comments
  • Rule of Thumb
    Harmony and Asymmetry Balance. Colors should look harmoniously. Use no more than 3-4 shades in colour.
  • The Rule of Thirds
    The idea is that an off-centre composition is more pleasing to the eye and looks more natural than one where the subject is placed right in the middle of the frame.
  • Focus Point
    The focal point should draw the viewer’s eye to it. Place the focal point on one of the ‘intersection spots’ from the Rule of Thirds. Other elements in the painting should lead they eye towards this point.
  • Dynamic Lines
    There are many different types of line – straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial etc – and each can be used to enhance our painting’s composition.
  • Alternation of Forms/Shape/Size of Elements
  • Value Composition
    For a strong composition, you want values to be in quite different amounts, not similar. Try this rule to start: “two thirds, one third, and a little bit.” For example, two thirds dark in tone, one third light in tone, and a small area or object that’s mid-tone.
  • Light and Shadow
    Play of light creates all around, both mood and contrast, and also appoints significant.
  • Cropping
    By cropping tight around the subject you eliminate the background “noise”, ensuring the subject gets the viewer’s undivided attention.
  • Rule of Odds
    Having an odd number of elements in a composition means your eye and brain can’t pair them up or group them easily. There’s some how always one thing left over, which keeps your eyes moving across the composition.
  • Element Placement
    Avoid neat and orderly arrangements of elements. Varying the space between the elements in your composition, the angles they lie at, and their sizes makes a painting more interesting.
  • Avoid Kissing Elements
    Kissing means just touching. Elements must either be definitely apart or definitely overlapped. Kissing creates a weak, connected shape which will distract the viewer’s eye, causing a momentary pause as they puzzle it out.
  • Have a Dominant Color Tone
    Either cool or warm, but not both.
  • Unity or Harmony
    Do the elements in the painting’s composition feel they belong together, or are they separate bits that just happen to be in the same painting? Help create unity by glazing over the whole painting with a single color; or by casting shadow; or by a bit of repeated color; etc.
  • Rule of Depth
    Tone of background is always colder than forward to show the depth or distance.
  • Composition Variety
    Don’t get stuck in a rut and use the same composition all the time, no matter how successful it is. Vary where you put the horizon line, where you put the focal point, swap between portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) shaped canvases.

Our eyes search asymmetric decisions and not only under the form, but under color, contrast and rhythm.

Filed Under: Painting Basics

Paint Loosely and Freshly

Posted by | June 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

Here are some lessons I learned recently:

  1. Don’t necessarily fill up one big area with one color, even if it is one color. You can make it much more interesting by mixing different versions/value of one color – as long as they are all the correct value.
  2. While you are painting, remember to squint and step back often
  3. Compare values/colors/proportion/etc in one small area with everything in the whole painting
  4. Paint past the edges (past the lines you have drawn in the first place) then reshaping with the color from outside
  5. In still life where a form shadow meets a cast shadow, the edges tend to be soft or lost – two colors on either side of an edge are similar in value
  6. Painting from inside -> outside will keep your paint fresh and easier to control the edge
  7. Highlights, thin stems, thin rims of cups, small dots can be paint last
  8. Focus on the big picture, not details – only paint necessary details
Filed Under: Acrylics, Painting Basics

Calla Lilies

Posted by | June 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

I love calla lilies, especially the pink/purple ones. I think I will paint some of them using pictures from this video.

Filed Under: Flowers

How to Paint Fast, Loose & Bold

Posted by | June 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

Currently I spent about 3~4 hours on average on each small painting. Many random strokes produce muddy colors. I found another artist (Patti Mollica) who is teaching people on how to paint fast, loose and bold. Wish I could have chance to join her workshop. She covers the following topics which are areas that I need to improve.

  • How to use large brushes for a bolder paint application
  • How to see distinct values
  • How to create a “road map” to assure a successful painting
  • How to translate realistic colors into bolder, more “fauvist” colors
  • How to determine what detail is necessary
  • How to add necessary detail using large brushes for a more gestural effect
  • How to compose your painting: do’s and don’ts
  • How to create space and depth with color temperature
  • How to work with a limited palette
  • How to create colorful greys
  • How to mix vibrant colors
  • How to create soft edges and value transitions
Filed Under: Acrylics, Painting Basics

Explore, Dream, Discover

Posted by | June 8, 2012 | 0 Comments

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

– Mark Twain

Filed Under: Painting Basics

Student Show 2012

Posted by | June 7, 2012 | 0 Comments

Our local art center hosts an exhibition specially for student artists every year. I submitted two still life paintings – “Lemon and Bell Pepper” and “Grape and Grape Juice”. They are my latest paintings in stretched canvas. With stretched canvas, I don’t have to frame them. I just need to paint the sides of the canvas. To be accepted, I also have to make it ready to be hung on the wall – I bought a picture hanging tool kit from a dollar store at $1.25 and installed it myself.

So excited – this is my first exhibition ever! Today is the grand opening of Student Show. There is a student performance in the opening as well.

Filed Under: Acrylics, Still Life

Avocado in Acrylic

Posted by | June 3, 2012 | 0 Comments

According to Wikipedia, The avocado is a tree native to Central Mexico, classified in the flowering plant family. Avocado or alligator pear also refers to the fruit (botanically a large berry that contains a single seed of the tree.

Alligator pear – The skin of avocado does look like alligator and the shape of avocado looks like a pear!

Anyhow, when I was painting this avocado in half,  I was kind of a little bit more relaxed than I usually am – I mixed the yellow and white,  and painted it on the canvas panel. I also used wet on wet technique in the fruit area. I like the way it turned out – it looks convincing. I think the shadow area needs to be improved but I will leave it for now.

Filed Under: Acrylics, Fruits, Still Life

Grapes and Grape Juice

Posted by | May 31, 2012 | 0 Comments

Glass is an interesting painting subject in still life. Transparency can be seen in the distortion, reflection, background color and shadow. I like the composition of this painting. In this painting, I was also experimenting how the background color impact the overall composition. I left a small corner of pink on the right behind the white plate – the little piece of pink balance the whole picture. A little bit color repetition works well in this painting.

Filed Under: Acrylics, Fruits, Still Life

Lemon and Bell Pepper

Posted by | May 26, 2012 | 0 Comments

This painting is to learn how to paint the reflection on the metal. I chose lemon and yellow bell pepper (again) because of their cheerful colors. I was looking for metal container all over the house and found this stainless steel container in a hidden closet. 🙂


Filed Under: Acrylics, Still Life, Vegetable

Yellow and Orange Bell Pepper

Posted by | May 24, 2012 | 0 Comments

Love the color of bell peppers, especially yellow and orange.  Here is another painting in acrylic.

Filed Under: Acrylics, Fruits, Vegetable