How to Create Good Compositions

How do we create good compositions?

“Composition is the foundation of a successful painting.” That’s what they say. But what does that mean? As painters, we don’t inherently think of the work. We think being creative is spontaneous and fun. Well, that may be for some cases, however, to be better painters, we have to look at the practical side of things.

What is Painting Composition?

It is essentially the arrangements of visual elements with the consideration of the principles and techniques of art.

In other words, it’s structure and planning. To know how to create successful compositions takes time, but if we master it, we’ll be more efficient and relatable.


Composition is, first and foremost, planning. As painters, we sometimes find ourselves in an inspiring situation where we let our creative powers flow. However, most of the time, when we’re not inspired, we digress to a more pragmatic approach. We plan.


Planning is the most important step in composition—when we plan efficiently and thoroughly, we can create stronger compositions and ultimately have better results.


So how do we start planning?


A lot of times we think our first idea is the best. But if we have an open mind, we can make our initial plans even better. With that in mind, as painters, we should consider using thumbnails. What are they? Thumbnails are sketches or drafts painters make to get the general idea of their paining. They’re not meant to be complete pieces of art; but rather their purpose is to allow you to figure out the compositional questions before actually diving into the painting process.

One advantage in making thumbnails is that you will have time to decide on what Visual Elements to use.


What are the Visual Elements?

The Visual Elements are essentially the building blocks of any composition in art. Each one has a distinct purpose but at the same time, they can have a harmonious relationship that greatly affects the painting.


Here are The Seven (7) Visual Elements:

1. Lines

Lines are visual paths that can be found all over paintings. They can be used to encourage the eye to move a certain direction in the painting.


Once you’ve used it a number of times, you’ll know how versatile lines can be. It can be used to suggest shapes, patterns, forms, structures, distances, and many more.


2. Shapes


Shapes are areas defined by edges within the piece. In other words, they are the angles and curves that are either geometric or organic.

These shapes have the power to control one’s feelings—believe it or not. For example: squares and rectangles can portray strength while circles can signify continuous flowing movement.

Shapes are very versatile and to a master painter, they serve as an opportunity to contain and release emotion. However, we must always keep in mind the variety of shapes we use. Too much can give your paintings a jarring effect.



3. Color