Painting: Creating Composition and Balance

The Last Supper, ca. 1520, by Giampietrino, after Leonardo da Vinci, oil on canvas, currently in the collection of
Royal Academy of Arts, London; an accurate, full-scale copy of the original that was the main source for
the twenty-year restoration of the original masterpiece (1978-1998) 

What is the Composition

When we heard the word 'composition', the first thing that rings into our ears is the music. Yes, music has to do a lot with the concept of composition. But when we talk about art, the word 'composition' is the life-line of an art-piece. So, let us talk about art and its correlation with the concept of composition. 

Every situation of things or a mix-up is made up of its constituents or the ingredients. The manner and proportion in which these ingredients or components are mixed-up are called the composition. In a way, a composition is an act of “putting together”. In the world of art, the composition is the soul of an art piece. If we talk about the art of drawing or painting and composition therein, we talk about the balance in the composition. What creates the balance?

It is believed that once we start talking about art, we start burying the art beneath the ground. It is because art is a subject of the heart and the discussion is the matter of mind. However here we will talk about the aspects of the artistic composition of a painting, and we will try to know how an artist creates harmony and balance.

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary Oil on
    Canvas  Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

            Johannes Vermeer had an affinity to 

                            create optical.

How to Create a Composition

The artists possess some inborn capacity to create. He or she always remains alive to make his or her art piece a balanced one, so far, the compositional aspect is concerned. The artists put every ingredient in its required proportions to create a balance in an art piece. These ingredients are: the colures used, the amount and the hues of the colours applied, the situation of the objects painted on a canvas and other things that make up a composition.

While looking at an art piece, we see a definite pattern in it. This pattern is the creation of the artist who painted it. Look at the world of artists like Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vici had created. We feel every bit of their painting well-balanced. Their paintings are so well-balanced that not even a small thing can be changed therein without putting the said balance at risk.

The artist uses a well mixed-up of the shapes he or she loads on a canvas. These shapes can be geometric figures like circle, triangle and square. While using these shapes, while placing these shapes in a given situation, the artist uses his or her understanding of the perspective.

Old London Bridge J. M. W. Turner 
Watercolour Tate Briton, London

By creating a balanced composition an artist creates a situation for the viewers. The viewers' eyes will be led as per the scheme of the artist’s composition. By adding or by deciding about the size of the object, and the artist tries to create the balance. This will lead the eyes of the viewers to evaluate the art piece and feel happy.

In the world of art, the creation of balanced composition is described by different names: some call is visual ordering or some name it a formal structure. This is an art vocabulary. But all these words mean the same; they refer to a composition that looks balanced. They refer to a painting wherein the artist successfully leads our eyes to the spaces on a canvas.

Tools to Create Composition: An artist has his or her tools for managing the affair. The tools at disposal of an artist are the colours, the subjects to be painted, and the size of the objects and the theme of the painting as a whole.

By using a mix-up of proper colours and their hues and tones, an artist creates the mood of the painting. The mood is for putting a life into the painting. Let us know about the options an artist has while creating a balance in his art. He uses the following tools to sharpen the communication that he or she wants to deliver through the painting. Mainly the artists use lines, shapes and colours to populate a canvas. The lines are used to give a direction or a visual path to the viewers. The artists decide how our eyes, the viewers’ eyes will move on the canvas.

Moonrise over the Sea Caspar David Friedrich
Oil on Canvas (1822) Berlin State Museum 

Act of Balancing: Shapes are defined in the art as the defined area having its own edges; the edges that separate one shape painted from another. Thereafter the artists consider aspects like the texture of the support medium, canvas, a wood panel or paper. 

Once the texture is defined, the artist moves on to deciding the value of the colours to load on the canvas. How many colours is to use; and what would be the hues and tones of the colours used: these aspects play a crucial role. The most important aspect of the use of space. The artists have a clear-cut idea about the use of the entire space of a canvas, well before he or she starts to paint an art piece.

Once all the above aspects are well-considered, the final outcome bound to become a balanced painting. [All the paintings are in Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons]

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