Composition in Art | Kristy Gordon | Skillshare
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3 Lessons (53m)
    • 1. Composition: Introduction

    • 2. Composition: Establishing a Focal Point

    • 3. Composition: Achieving Balance


About This Class

Composition is the one of the most important yet often neglected aspects of image-making. In this class you'll learn how to use composition to guide the eye towards the center of interest and also how to achieve balance in the picture. In the assignment you will learn a great way to brainstorm ideas and work out the composition before beginning a new painting/drawing/illustration.

Check out my other classes:

Portrait Painting from a Photo: Underpainting

Portrait Painting from a Photo: Color

Portrait Painting with a Full Palette

Glazing, Scumbling and Impasto Paint Application Techniques


1. Composition: Introduction: I'm Christi Gordon, and I'm a New York based artist and teacher. I've taught classes at the New York Academy of Art and the National Academy in New York. Composition is the ultimate frontier of painting. And yet while there's a lot of information available to us as artists on how to develop our technique, it's considerably more difficult to gain a solid and practical understanding of how to effectively build a pleasing and compelling composition. In order for peace to be compelling, it must hold our attention. It needs to have a center of interest and be balanced and have a pleasing arrangement of light and dark shapes. Some artists even embed the thematic content of their picture in other words, the meaning into the compositional structure of their work, which is something that my teacher, Vincent Desiderio, refers to as a technical narrative. In this class LTTE specific ways to create and draw the eye towards your center of interest . I'll show you how to balance a complex arrangement and how to compose based on the rule of thirds and the golden section. By the end of the class, you'll have a solid understanding of how to effectively build a compelling work of art 2. Composition: Establishing a Focal Point: Hi, I'm Kristi Gordon and today we're gonna be looking at composition and how to create a focal point as artists. Our goal is to know or center of interest. Will decide that at the beginning of the painting to guide our eye towards the center of interest and then around the composition and back to the center of interest. So first, let's look at what the eye is attracted to. So the eyes attracted to tonal contrast Everly Light light next to Waverley, Dark Dark really attracts her. I also sharp edges catch the eye crossing intersecting lines grabs the attention of the viewer areas of complex city. So really high, highly rendered areas and the one different element. This correlates with clustering, which we'll talk about in a moment. And it's basically the idea of the one thing different. So we've got all these seated clothed figures and then we've got this one nude figure and she, you know, stands out right away and also bright colors, especially in a context of really subdued colors and in particular, warm colors really attract the eye. Now the eye passes over things like soft edges, similar colors and low tonal contrast. Also, the eye follows a long lines, especially until it's faded out or interrupted gazes so the direction of other people's face and the way they're looking. If it points towards the center of interest are I will follow those gazes and also gradations of color, such as from dark to light. So the I really passes through the gradation of color and follows along. That is well. And so with that in mind, some of the keys to establishing a focal point are things like lead and lines where you're drawn into the picture and pointed towards the center of interest. Again. Tonal contrast is really important. Will be talking about that a lot. Having a really light area next to a really dark area, right at the center of interest is going to be t. The color pop can really attract the eye. You can see the red cloth here is really attracting her eye and is really the secondary point next to Christ's head. I'm here which there is so much contrast that we're still attracted that primarily but definitely the second key point is this pop of color in the red cloth. Sharp edges are used to attract the eye to the center of interest as well as clustering. Or like the lone figure in this case. There's a lot of vertical upright figures, you know, standing figures, and the one laying figure is really the use of sort of breaking the clustering to keep us to dry to this entered interest and level of detail will see that Maurin other paintings where say the center of interest is highly rendered and other parts of the painting might be looser and more painterly. Um, and again using the gays the direction of the gaze of others can point us towards the center of interest. So a lot of these figures they're looking at Christ, We're also gonna talk about placement so that use of the rule of thirds or the golden section to place key areas of the painting like Christ's head, strategically in a place of prominence in the picture. So in this case, it's basically 1/3 in and 1/3 down. So we'll be talking about the placement in more detail throughout this lecture and then also crossing lines or spoke wheeling. So in this picture, we're really seeing a lot of that a lot of these arms are pointing towards Christ Head. Even the angle between these two figures heads is pointing to Christ head. His arm is pointing to him. His body is kind of like a wheel with all these spokes going off, and they're all intersecting right at the center of interest and sort of similar and opposed to that is that you want to avoid the use of tangents. And so that's things like where AH, lot of things would be intersecting somewhere. That's not this inter vinters. It can really distract from the center of interest. So you wanna watch out for accidental use of tangents. So let's look at tonal contrasts more, and we'll start by looking at this Ruben self portrait. So bold contrasts, as you can see, really attract the eye. First, we respond to really just a few simple masses arranged on the picture plane, and the big shapes and their contrasts is really what draws the eye. So a painting really succeeds or fails because of its main abstract tome, asp shapes. In this painting, there's a really nice design, really strong dark shape, the really light lights of the skin right at the center of interest, surrounded by these more mid tone tones in the background. And so the subtle qualities might keep our attention and hold us for longer. But our initial interest really come from the you know, the bold impression that we get of the tonal contrast, the abstract arrangement of tonal shapes that we see in the first glimpse. And so, looking at portrait, it's and I'm just going to try and move this under. I move this down. See, there we go. Just arranging this screen a little bit better. So if we look a tsum portrait's, a lot of artists use thes dark cats or dark hair to really help us guide our center to our right to the center of interest. So the use of the dark hair here also, these white collars or white shirts can really keep a strong tonal contrast right at the center of interest. Um, also, the placement of the figures is important, and you can see in a lot of these portrait's that the figures not placed in the center of the canvas they're placed slightly to one side, so typically you would leave more space in front of the direction that the figures looking and less space behind. And so they're picked place kind of along. Um, like the rule of thirds. Or the golden section, which we'll talk about more, you know, seem to come in this lecture in this painting here, the figures actually placed closer to the edge that they're looking out, which gives a sense of movement and sort of fleeing off the screen. So that could be interesting to, but yes. So you want to be thinking about having the highest area of contrast right near the center of interest. And also consider the placement of the figure on the canvas. Some figures are placed right in the center and that could be fined to this. The Mona Lisa's a nice, stable pyramid shape with her place right in the center, and it gives a feeling of stability and balance. And that's nice too. Um, and so looking in more detail at this Rembrandt portrait, the other thing that you want to really think about is Teoh. Choose. Um, why is it underlying portrait's okay Anyways? Peel RTR Ahrendts evidence Bill. Right. Okay. Any way you want to choose the center of interest deliberately at before you start the painting. So with the portrait, it's typically going to be one of the eyes will be the center of interest, not both eyes, but one I. So in this painting, this is clearly our center of interest and using, you know, less tonal contrast and also softer edges on the other side. Rembrandt is really pushing back this I and bringing this forward and again the face has kept right next to this dark shapes surrounding it. So he's really using contrast there. Um, the next tool that artists use is lead in lines. So in Western cultures, people usually enter a peace by the bottom and often sort of the bottom left, and we end her in through it and then come to the center of interest in them wrapped around . The idea is that you want to, like, be drawn immediately to the center of interest and then guide the eye around the picture and then come back to the center of interest, so not get stuck at the center of interest and not be able to move around but move to the center of interest first very clearly and then around the painting after that, and the use of lead and lines can help us end her into this into the painting. So the chair, the angles of the chair here and then the legs are all leading lines, guiding us to the center of interest, your face. And then we go around the painting to the dog. And you know, we're guided sort of in this direction along this coach and along this line and back to the center of interest in this painting and in this one were a sort of lead through the vase through the skirt up to the center of interest, down to the feet and back around. So you want to watch that you don't have, say, at the bottom like a table edge or, like Ah, a hedge or I don't ever anything's gonna block or entryway into the painting and stand a lot of the time Break open this entryway by having some kind of angled line that's pointing towards the centre of interest as a lead in line. And here's another example in Waterhouse's painting here you can see how the direction of the grass is deliberately orchestrated to be guiding us from the bottom, leading us into the center of interest at her face, another useful device that artist sometimes uses framing. So either using like a window or mirror or cloth, you can sort of frame the figure of the center of interest in a certain waste of in this one. The mirror is really almost circling her head and creating a framing device within the painting that really draws our eye to our center of interest. And, um, this cleverly sort of orchestrated cloth that's billowing around her head is another really nice framing tool that Waterhouse's used in this painting. And here's another example, the barrel right behind his head here in the Surroi, a painting is a really nice framing device again, and it's really brightening up the contrast around this dark, dark hat. So there's a really high, you know, level contrast right around the century of interest, which just brings us immediately tour center of interest. Then we go down his arms up through these other figures and back around to the center of interest. You can also use the edges on level of detail as a way off, um, guide in the eye around the picture. I'm just gonna move this down one more time. Just a sec. I've got this. Um there we go. That's better. Framing. Um, so, yeah, in this hammer short painting, he's really I think he's actually designating this as our center of interest. There's really sharp sharps back here and like, ah, high level of detail, very sharp edges. And he's kept the figure muted and low contrast and soft edged, which is really interesting. Most of the time of figure will be this had been trusted in the interior painting. But in this painting entitled Interior With the Reading Lady, the point really is the interior and the ladies like secondary. And it's just really interesting the way he's using the soft edges toe Orchestrate that and this is another really interesting won the bowl and the bottles are super high. Contrast super sharp, sharp edged on the table to and she's just really soft edged a little lower contrast. And again, clearly the center of interest is the still life on the table. So I mentioned clustering as well. So clustering is the idea that you can have in groups of figures, a number of figures sort of grouped together and then one that's more separate from the others, and that will be the center of interest. The eye gets drawn to the different thing or the lone figure. If it was still lives and there was a whole still life like Philip Jerry's and then one banana are I would go to the banana. And if there's a group of figures in their own clustered together, one lone figure are I get strong to the lone figure. So in this singer Sargent painting, we've got all these vertical. You know, even the vise is almost like with them, too. Vertical figures. They're kind of grouped together, kind of overlapping in some ways. And then this figure sitting and separate, she's sort of more separate than them to. So we kind of go from them to her. To them. Um, I'm sorry. From her to her. To them. Yeah. And then in this painting of the dancer, we've got all these seat of figures all in a row, and then the one diagonal dancing figure. And again, we really get drawn to the one different diagonal standing dancing figure and the use of color and like a really strong, bright color can really draw us to the center of interest. Especially warm colors really come forward. So the use of red is fairly common. And in this Dellacqua painting you can see that the flag that strong public red really attracts, or I, especially among all these cooler colors and sort of lower contrast colors and water hoses doing it as well. With the flower and the lipstick and her red hair among all these other beauty sort of green colors, placements are really important consideration to drying her eye to the focal point. And so the pyramid, like the triangle, is a really stable, you know, composition. And you can see in this one of liberty leaving the people. There's there's a triangular shaped really formed in this complex composition with the gun that you know, the rifle forming one side of the triangle, the flag at the top and her arm and the rifle in the figure here, you know, and the orchestration of lighting through this figure really forming the other edge of that triangle. So there's a definite triangular composition going on here, and the flag in her hand are the total top of that pyramid. And so the top of the pyramid is a really nice place for a center of interest. And again, in this Alaska is painting here. We've got sort of a triangle being used compositionally and the princes at the very top off the triangle. Now, um, a really common one for artists to use is the rule of thirds. So if you imagine dividing a canvas horizontally and vertically into three equal thirds thes lines basically being the division at three equal thirds, I'm just gonna move. I've got the camera view a little tight on this, but anyways, so you divide the canvas into a vertical and horizontal thirds. And these intersecting lines here are a good place for the most important areas of the composition to be lined up with. So we've got the figure in this composition. He's generally placed, like on this 1/3 line, and you can also see if you've got a horizon line. That's a good place for, you know, for the horizon line. Or if there is like, you know, if you want a horizon, line the tire up. This would be a good placement for it, and so using these thirds as good markers. Good placement for some of the important areas in your painting is a good strategy, as faras placement goes, the other one that people uses the golden section, also known as the golden ratio. It's a geometric relationship between two quantities. So is the relationship between the height versus the width, Um, compared to the hole, and it's each part relates to the other in a certain wave. And this sort of fractal nature's found in nature and shells and in ferns and flower flower petals and just all over nature of the relationship between our fingers to her hands to her arms is based on this golden section. So it's a really harmonious mathematical system that brings relationships together, and it could be a little bit complicated to really think about the math behind it. But basically what artists typically do is just use the placement of this line and this line, Um, and some of these ones similar to how we would use third. So if you look at this line, for example, you can see how it's similar to the rule of thirds. If we took this horizontal length and divided into three equal thirds. You can see that this line here is just a little closer to center from 1/3. And that's basically what artists like me and a lot of other artists use use this for. So rather than, say, placing the figure right on the third over here, we might just place it a little closer to center following the golden section or the Horizon line instead of it being, you know, way down at the 1/3 market will be just a little higher up towards the center on the golden section, Um, and so when you get this swirl sort of pattern that looks a bit like a shell, you can use that to. And here's an example of a Rubens that you can see that the basic swirling motion is coming into play in his composition, and it's pretty effective. It's gets really nicely designed using the golden section. So to review, we've talked about some of the key ways of establishing its a focal point in your painting . We've talked about lead in lines such as utilizing grass or other angles coming from the bottom edge that lead up to the center of interest. We've talked about using tonal contrast at the center of interest. So this painting there's two girls, but clearly this one is our center of interest. She's high contrast. The lead in lines are pointing towards her. There's no break from the flowers and her silhouette. She's really or there's there is a break. Rather from the flowers and her ceiling. She's got a clear high contrast silhouette where this girl's more sort of disturbed by the patterning of flowers. Or she just sets back a little bit more. Also the use of color pop. So I think like this lantern here, the really nice bright, warm lantern is adding even more to the fact that she's the center of interest, where this lanterns a little bit less bright and warm, and it doesn't stand out quite a strongly. And so it kind of helps set this girl back a little bit more. Also the use of clustering. Oh, I even think that the way there's like these lanterns and they're overlapping, you know, And this lantern iss more separate. I even think that that's a way that he was making this more clearly. The center of interest so you can use clustering. You can also use the level of detail really rendering the center of interest in a lot of detail and possibly leaving other areas of the painting a little bit looser, a little bit more soft, edged, a little bit more painterly. Um, you can use crossing lines, intersecting lines to really draw the eye to the center of interest, and also the use of gays of other figures in the painting, where their faces might be looking at the center of interest. And we also talked about placement. So the rule of thirds or the golden section, or, you know, the top of the pyramid. In this painting of sergeants, I think that this figure is placed about on the golden section. It's just in a little bit from the 1/3 mark and maybe, maybe vertically. It's about 1/3 down, so placement is another really good way to establish the center of interest. So for the assignment, I've made these Photoshopped files that simplify the masses of the dark, medium and light into the three unified tonal masses that I've talked about so you can see more clearly. The simplified darkest shapes, the darkest and lightest shape right at the center of interest, creating the highest total contrast and the large amount of mid tones in this painting. So you've got a medium amount of darks, a small amount of lights and a large amount of mid tones. Notice how the darks air all kind of group together and even sort of connect in a certain way. The lightest lights are grouped together and connect in a certain way, and the mid tones all kind of connected a certain way. Um, in this painting you've got ah, large amount of darks, a medium amount of mid tones and a small amount of light. So various varied sizes of each of the masses. You've got your darkest dark in your lightest light right next to each other at the center of interest. And all of the darks are kind of group together, touching in a certain way. The lights are grouped together and the mid tones are grouped together. So for the assignment, I'd like to have you do three copies of master work. So just quick thumbnail studies. These should be about two inches large, two or three inches large they should take about 15 to 20 minutes to dio and really focus on simplifying the tones into three masses. So you've got your darks. Your mediums and lights have the masses grouped together. So have all the darks kind of connect. Have the mid tones connect, have the lights, connect and notice the varied amount of each mass. So in this painting, we've got a lot of light, a medium amount of mid tone and a small amount of dark. In this painting, we've got a lot of dark, a medium amount of Mentone and a very small amount of light. And in this painting, we've gone a lot of light, a medium amount of dark in a small amount of mid tone and also really notice that the way that the artist is orchestrating the tonal contrast to have the center of interest have the highest level of tonal contrasts. And then after that, I'd like to have you do three thumbnails brainstorming ideas for your next painting. So the same considerations as the last assignment, where you copied the masterworks look to simplify three tones, get the darks, the mediums and lights really group together, really simplified and really focus on varying the amount of each mass. So having a different amount of darks, a different amount of lights and a different amount of medium middle values really focus on orchestrating the point painting so that there is the highest level of contrast at the center of interest. And also make sure to draw a box around your thumbnail, which will represent the edges of your canvas so that you can consider the placement of your figure in the campus, whether it's along the cold in second or the rule of thirds or whatever. So you can see here that I've really drawn in the box of the canvas. So this isn't just a sketch floating in the middle of a sketchbook page. I start with a little box that represents the canvas, so I'm gonna do a damn well that shows you how I would approach doing a few of these thumbnails again. They're just quick, rough little thumbnail studies where I'm just brainstorming ideas, looking to Massey and sort of play around with the arrangement of the total values, and it's really fun. And if you might find that at first you don't have that many ideas. But the more you do it, the more ideas flow, and it's it's really fun. So I'm going to start the demo, and, um, I hope that you enjoy it. You can use whatever you want for the thumbnails. The thumbnails don't have to be perfect. They don't have to be like, thank you. Perfect drawings or anything. I've got this, like Sharpie like I just want to be able to group the lights, mediums and darks really clearly, you know, and not get into lake medium tones that are all a full range. So we've got, like, a graphite pencil, which will be a middle tone. We've got the white of the paper or if I need it, this acrylic white marker and a Sharpie pin look at the model and just, like, let your mind kind of wander and you think about, um, yeah, I just let it, like, kind of get your emotional response to the painting. I'm going to start by drawing in the canvas. I've got a couple squares at home, so I'm gonna try it in a square format. So this is the edges of my canvas. So that's really important. Start by drawing that in and then I'm gonna think about the placement of the figures. So again, if we divide it vertically and horizontally into third's, you know, it'll give us some, like key places That could be a good place for the figure. I'm going to try having two of him, so I'm gonna place the heads on the 1/3 mark and you're just looking for the big, bold shapes. So don't get caught up in, like, perfect proportions are, you know, perfect drawing. We're going to be working a lot on the drawing elements when we get to the painting stage. But this is the kind of concept stage, and we're really just looking to map out really bold abstract shapes, dark, medium and life values. Okay, so we've got our night sky, and maybe the water will also be like pretty dark except for up towards the place where there's the reflection. So I'm gonna draw in a little bit more. Our reflection and water is basically just like a flipped vertically flipped same shape as as above Onley with like the ripples of the water, it can sometimes extend and get a little bit longer So just getting that in and yeah, I think I'm gonna have the water be like, mostly, pretty dark, too. So there's gonna be a lot of contrast at my center of interest. I think I'm gonna have the center of interest figure, which is the one on the right. Be a little lighter than the other figure, which will be more of a great tone so that they'll be clarity about which of the two figures is the center of interest. Maybe the second figure will be more of a ghost. So really, let your brain go. You can just, you know, you can try some ideas out. You don't have to dio a really academic just description of what you see right in front of you, although you could do that. But, um, but you might like to try playing around with some other ideas. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to just feeling feeling the dark and then maybe his body. We'll have some small amount of the mid tones as well. So there's a small amount of mid tone, a medium amount of light and a large amount of dark. And this one and in this one. There is a large amount of dark, a medium amount of mid tone and a small amount of light. So remember to sort of think about having varied amounts of lights and darks and to have them kind of grouped together. So all the darks kind of touch, you know, they kind of connect The lights almost connected a little gap through here, but and the mid tones kind of connect. So you don't want to be doing like a painting where there's so much detail that there's like darks everywhere, you know? And then, like mid tones, like everywhere and lights everywhere, you know, and having it totally disorganized. You want to be orchestrating things so that their groups together I'm gonna start my third thumbnail. I'm not really that happy with any of the thumbnails that I have so far. So I'm gonna start as always with the box which represents the outer edges of my canvas. And I've got some square canvases at home that I'd like to use for this painting. So starting with a square and then you can just sort of divide, you know, think about dividing your canvas into three equal thirds just to give you some intersections for where you might like to play some of your key areas of interest. So what I'm gonna do is start with my main figure and thinking off, sort of duplicating the image of rave in into, um, you know, multiple images of him. So basically, I'll use him as a model and get three or so of him on the canvas. So here's this is gonna be our center figure, and I start with just kind of a linear sort of mark just blocking in. We've got this guy, which is our center of interest, and he's sort of running along one of the rule of thirds. Then you've got this guy who's also along the rule of thirds that's moved. Art main guy just up a little bit is varying the heights of the tops of their heads. And I think I'll have a ghostie kind of figure behind them over here, and I'll use my tough stuff. My racer. Just lighten up some of these lines in the center, okay? And yeah, I think I might have them have a little bit of a glow. Just gonna mark in some guidelines, and then it's common to have. I'm gonna have them in the water. And so the kind of water horizon line is gonna be aligned with one of the rule of thirds the horizontal rule of thirds. So it's really useful in terms of things about the placement to utilize placement, like the rule of thirds or the golden section. It takes a little bit of time to feel in a nice, even dark tone here, leaving a little space around the edges, because I want them to be kind of glowing. I'll bring this dark edge up to his face and what highlight the contrast at the center of interest. So think about what your focal in your focal point is gonna be, and you just make a conscious decision about what the focal point will be in the guide. Your decisions throughout the course of design in the painting based, you know, with that in mind, nice and solid, kind of get the seelert of this ghostly figure in the back and there's Yeah, I just kind of get a silhouette of our foreground. Figure he's got some dark short song that was ill be part of the darkest arts. And so so you're thinking about how to arrange the composition to guide the easier center than trust. You're thinking about what the arrangement of darks and lights will be, and midtown's to health guys, the out of the center of interest and also just to keep the painting visually exciting and interesting. So I think we'll have the water be mostly pretty dark, but they will be some areas of the water that will be a little bit more within the mid tone range. For now, I'm using the black Sharpie, which makes such a clear, you know, no to designate my darkest darks. That's where I like to use the shirt, the alec to use a Sharpie for the black, darkest darks. And I like to use the graphite pencil for the mid tones and in the white of the paper or my acrylic marker for the lightest lights. And I'm just going to switch to a black pencil. That's this is making kind of a mid tone, so his reflection will be kind of mid tone will be this dark or tone kind of framing, priming him, and when you can see that like the drawing element. Really, he knows it's not perfect. It doesn't have to be at all. And that's not really our focus. That's part of what's kind of fun about it, too, is you really get to just relax about like the drawing elements and just brainstorm and allow your mind to brainstorm and allow your hand to try things out. And and you'll get a better visual feel of how it works when you've tried it out visually. So So like with the first couple from nails? Well, especially the 2nd 1 I didn't really feel like it had a very pleasing arrangement of lights and darks kind of liking the way this one's going. But let's finish with it and see, but basically have got a mid tone here, this ghostly figures in mid tone. The reflection of the central figure is a mid tone and some of the water. I think I would have some of the water be a little bit mid tone in here. It's I might also use my acrylic marker to just mark in, You know, maybe it will be a sky night sky. I wanted him to have a bit of a glow. This guy's gonna be lighter. So we've basically got the lightest light here on the central figure and on the secondary figure, um, the highest level of contrast at the center of entranced at his face. I also kind of used the placement of the stars to guide the eye towards the center of interest, kind of pointing it and even the way the reflection breaks up this dark along the bottom. The reflection almost is acting as a lead in line that leads us into our center of interest . Right here, there's mostly darks in this picture. There's a medium amount of mid tones and a medium amount of lights, so go back now and either using photo reference or just working from your imagination. Or if you're have access to a live model, even in a classroom setting, use that opportunity brainstorm. You'll find that you get more ideas. You know, the more thumbnails you do, and you can work them out in this thumbnail stage, thinking about the composition ticks that I taught and and thinking, especially about arranging the dark, medium and light tones in such a way that you'll guide the eye towards the center of interest. So I look really forward to seeing what you do and how fun with this 3. Composition: Achieving Balance: in this lesson, I'll teach you how to achieve balance in a composition. We'll be looking at how to analyze the four quadrants of a painting, the difference between formal balance and asymmetrical balance, thinking of a painting as a weighing scale in assessing balance. And we'll also address what makes certain elements have more attraction and therefore more weight in a picture. So if you look at this painting by young man like you could imagine dividing the painting into four equal quadrants, dividing the horizontal length in half and the vertical height in half. And from there you can analyze each of those four quadrants for balance. So you're looking to see if there's kind of a similar amount of information in each of the sections. The most important is that it that picture balances from side to side, and in this case, the picture also balances from top to bottom, and you can see that he used various extra little details little elements, objects placed in to add to that sense of it being balanced from top to bottom. And here's another example and was painted by Caravaggio. You can see that the painting does feel very balanced in each of the four quadrants, definitely side to side. It's a little heavier on the bottom, but pretty balanced from top to bottom as well. And so the most important thing, though, is that a painting feels balanced from side to side. So in this painting by Dellacqua, there's definitely at a nice balance in the horizontal dimension. The bottom of the fake painting feels heavier than the top of the painting, but that's okay, because it's balanced nicely from side to side. There are a couple different ways of approaching balance. The first is a formal balance, and it's typically very symmetrical and balanced from side to side and from top to bottom. There's usually an equal dirt distribution of figures on either side of a central figure. So he has placed the figure of greatest importance in the center and then put an evenly balanced selection of figures on either side. And this creates an effect that is austere and dignified, so that enhances the feel of this painting of the Last Supper. And in Rafael School of Athens, you can see that you can imagine the painting kind of like a weighing scale. So this is another example of a formal balance if you imagine he's got the two central figures right in the center. And that could be like the pivot point of the Weighing scale and then on either side, evenly distributed our arrangement of figures that balance evenly on either side of these central figures. Rafael softened the formality of this arrangement a little bit by slightly varying the figures and objects on either side of the two central figures. But they do still feel very balanced from side to side, and the most common form of achieving balance is asymmetrical balance. And so, in this case, you want to balance the varying elements which will have different weights, um, still to be balanced like a weighing scale. So if you imagine a teeter totter and if you had like a heavier child, you would place the heavier child closer to the pivot point. And if you had a later child, you would place the lighter child further away from the pivot point, and that would balance out the teeter totter. And so still early in groupings of figures you've got. If you've got a larger grouping of figures, it'll be like a heavier child and you'll sort of have it placed closer to the center. You can see that this overall mass feels, you know, closer to the center than this smaller, lighter mass, which feels closer to the edge. Here's another example where Waterhouse's utilizing that method of thinking of the painting as like a teeter totter. And so we've got the heaviest mass, which is the lady of shell lot here. She's the largest, brightest, most colorful, definitely catches are I the most? So she's the heaviest sort of mass of the painting, and she's placed closer to the center and then this. The elements of the boat are balancing her, and they're lighter, smaller weight to the picture and their place closer to the edge. Sometimes the whole pictorial interest will be on one side, and the other side is purely there for balance. So in this case, um, you might imagine this painting like a teeter totter. Only the pivot point is kind of shifted a little bit over, and Thea artist has created this pivot point of the fulcrum as being this tree, so he's kind of anchoring it in as that, and the figures are clustered around that, and this very lightweight, long extended landscape with these lightweight trees. Balance that out. A test that you can do is you can take your hand and cover up the whole landscape half of the painting and see how it feels just with the figures on the tree. And the composition feels much more closed and straightforward and kind of boring without that expansive landscape stretching over. And so this is just a example of how still using the same principle of heavier objects being placed closer to the center, lighter objects being placed further over to the edge. But he's established the pivot point as being further over in the painting to buy, anchoring it in with this large tree. And so you want to think about the scale of attraction and you know every only to the painting will have a certain amount of pulling power, and you want to balance the weight of the various elements so long. Groupings of people are heavier and smaller elements are lighter, so we've been looking at how they'd be placed closer to the center, which is true in this painting and the later ones that be placed closer to the edge, so they balanced like a teeter totter. Also, higher contrast figures or elements air heavier in the painting and same with bright colors . They really attract the eye of an individual. Standing alone, separate from a group does have a lot of visual polo, so you can feel the figure having a certain weight that does hold up against Thies, This grouping of figures So it was paying the center of interest is clearly this woman. She's the large is she's the most brightly colored and are I goes to her. Be aware that she's not placed rank at the center, but she's placed close to the center and she's a part of this group. So this whole group has been placed closer to the center and the figure alone is placed closer to the edge. Contrast is a really useful tool in establishing the weight of different elements to so in this larger grouping of figures that it's definitely the heaviest, and we've got the brightest contrast in this woman and an individual standing alone has a lot of pulling power. I does go to the one different thing, the one standing alone, but in this case, it doesn't have that much pulling power because the artist has orchestrated this figure to be the strongest, the brightest and again that she's placed closer to the center, just as we've been looking at and this figure is placed closer to the edge. And so there's two main ways of basically deciding where to place the most important elements of a painting, and the first is the rule of thirds. So if you imagine dividing the painting horizontally and vertically into three equal thirds the key figures or like or horizon lines, key elements will be tend to be placed, Um, thes lines, which are the 1/3 divisions. The other is the Golden Section, which is sometimes called the golden ratio and was the geometric relationship between two quantities. It's found in nature and shells and ferns. It's basically a fractal pattern, and the mathematics do quantities are in a golden ratio. If there way she was the same as the ratio of the some of the larger parts and so basically with the golden ratio are recreating this exact type of rectangle over and over and over again, and it could be a little bit complicated, actually mathematically, but for the purpose of art. Composing what people typically do is look at these main lines and where their division is on the canvas. And I've just got another image here. These light gray lines are basically the rule of thirds transposed onto our golden section , and you can see how these key lines, which are part of the golden section here these black ones are basically just in towards the center from our rule of third line. So again, here's the 1/3 mark, and our golden section is just a little bit closer to the center. It can happen on either side, but again, it's just a little bit more towards the center. Then we would place are 1/3 and so what? You'll find often his artists plane sing the central figure, the center of interest on the golden section, which weaken. See Singer Sargent has done for this little girl. And then the secondary figure was not a center of interest. Ah, little bit further over to the edge. Basically along are 1/3. So you're Simon just to do three thumbnail studies of masterworks. Work small about two inches by three inches, and you can either deal in your studies or fill in with three tones a duck medium in light tone. So these air the two examples. You might find it easier for the complex compositions to just analyze it based on the linear quality, and look at where the key placement of elements and figures is occurring in terms of the line work. Or you might find it useful to analyze it with the tonal structure in mind. And so notice how the picture balances within the four quadrants from side to side and from top to bottom. And also observe which elements air heaviest, in which ones are lighter and where they're placed on the composition and think of it wine . And then take note where key elements such as horizon lions and remain figures break up the space. And so, once you've done three thumbnails of masterworks, your next assignments to do three thumbnails of new ideas. Brainstorming ideas for your next painting. Start with just a line drawing and if you which fill it in three tones, a dark medium and light tone. Consider the balance of the four quadrants and design a balanced composition that place is heavier elements a little closer to the center, not right at the center, with just a little bit in towards it. And the later ones closer to the edge is maybe on the rule of thirds, maybe even further over to the edge, depending on its weight plan, where key elements are placed and how they break up this space, for example, using the rule of thirds or the golden section and make sure the draw a box around your thumbnail to represent the edges of your countess. That's really important because the whole composition is basically based on the edges of the canvas, so definitely include that line. So I hope you found that useful. I think composition is one of the most important elements of a painting, and it's often overlooked. So I'm excited to be able to bring you this information on balancing compositions