Friday, June 29, 2012

Common Mistakes of the New Artist and How to Avoid Them; Part II

Disclaimer: As I said in Part I of this post, there are no hard and fast rules to art. At some point you may purposefully choose to commit one of these "mistakes" to achieve a specific goal. The important thing is that you choose to do do it, rather than doing one of these things because of lack of knowledge. Ok, let's carry on!

Mistake #6: Bad Composition. Composition is one of those details that can truly make or break a painting. You might have an absolutely beautiful subject that you've painted wonderfully, but if your composition is wrong it may leave the viewer unsettled or bored. Here are some examples of bad composition and why they are bad. 

Exhibit A:
What's happening here?

The image above almost achieves an L shaped composition, which can be used to sort of "frame" an object of interest. However, there is nothing of interest in that vast expanse of blue so the picture is just boring and a little confusing. To improve the composition I may add a red balloon or some other point of interest to that space of blue.

Exhibit B1:
The edges of the subject just barely
 fit inside the picture, appearing forced.
The above painting of an apple is not great composition for a couple of reasons. Problem #1 is that it feels forced. The apple comes right to the edges of the painting, making it appear that the artist (me) was trying too hard to get all of the subject into the frame. To fix this problem, I would either need to zoom in closer on my subject, or back up enough that there is comfortable space between the edges of the apple and the border of the picture. Problem #2 is that the stem is pointing out of the picture. However, it is far enough away from the edge of the picture that it's not a serious problem. The picture below shows a similar problem.

Exhibit B2:
The beetle is walking out of the picture, possibly
leading the viewer's interest out of the picture as well.
Exhibit B3:
This is a better composition than B3
because of the position of the subject.

Exhibit C1:
There is no clear center of interest, making the picture boring.

Again, there are a couple of problems with this picture. Problem #1 is that the center of interest is not clear. Problem # 2 has to do with color and balance of light and dark. Most of the colors in the picture are of the same value (level of light or dark). If we zoom in like so:

Exhibit C2:
It greatly improves the picture, however it would still benefit from greater contrast between lights and darks, and perhaps in the colors themselves, as well (for example, a purple butterfly instead of one that matches the flowers). 

Once again, these are only guidelines. Don't let rules dictate your art (or worse, intimidate you from creating art all together). If you feel that your pictures are missing the mark somehow, however, a look at these tips may help you put your finger on the problem. Remember, experience is the best teacher and with time you'll develop a sense of what works and what doesn't. 

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