Art Terminology

Wednesday: Elements of Composition

Wednesday: Art Terminology

What is composition? Composition in art is the arrangement or placement of visual elements (organization) in the piece of art. The arrangement should be pleasing to both the artist and the viewer. It can also guide the viewer’s eye around the artwork until they find the focal point. It is how the elements of art (line, shape, color, texture, pattern, tone and form) are organized. We discussed the elements of art last Wednesday.

There are 8 elements of Composition:

  1. Focus or Emphasis: This is known as the focal point of the piece of art. “Center of interest”.
  2. Unity: Do all the parts of the composition belong together?
  3. Balance: Both symmetrical (formal) and asymmetrical (informal) arrangements can create an interesting composition for a piece of art but the painting can’t feel heavy on one side or the other. Radial balance can be used when drawing a flower such as a sunflower (arranged around a center).
  1. Pattern: Pattern is the repetition of shapes, colors, lines, or values in the piece of art.
  2. Proportion: How pieces within the artwork relates to each other in terms of scale and size. This can include big or small and nearby or distant parts.
  3. Contrast: Contrast is the difference between light and dark elements. It can also be differences in shapes, colors, textures, sizes, or types of line, etc.
Contrasting different sizes
  1. Movement: There are numerous ways to show movement in a piece of art such as a flowing river, arrangement of objects, or positioning of figures.
  2. Rhythm: Look for large underlying shapes and repeating colors.

Another couple important ideas:

The rule of odds:

Have an odd number of objects (3,5, or 7 are best) in your artwork (also useful when adding accessories in home decor) allows for a more dynamic arrangement.

This can apply to many objects including brushes, apples, flowers, people, or trees.

Rule of Odds

And the rule of thirds:

Divide your painting in thirds both vertically and horizontally and use the intersection points to help you position your focal point. This will ensure you never split your artwork in half.

Can be applied to photography, paintings, as well as design.

Rule of Thirds


Elements of Composition of Art

Art composition rules

Composition and Design

Rule of thirds

Secret of good composition


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