How to Understand Composition in Art
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How to Understand Composition in Art

September 25, 2019


How to Understand Composition in Art. In the art world, composition means the way
that a work is arranged to communicate the artist’s ideas to the viewer. Sound confusing? Our crash course will help. You will need Art Patience and a good art
history book (optional). Step 1. If the work is a painting or drawing, observe
its perspective, or the concept that creates the illusion of three dimensions on a two-dimensional
surface. Popular techniques will often draw the viewer
or distract the viewer from the subject of the piece. Step 2. Survey how the artist uses light and contrast
to hold the viewer’s attention and guide their eye through the artwork. Step 3. Note placement of color in the work. Warm colors, like red or yellow, often draw
attention, while cool colors, like blue, can create space and relax the viewer. Step 4. Look for visual texture, which is surface
quality that can be seen or felt and that often creates the illusion of the actual textured
surface. Step 5. Observe how the artist uses space, or the
area between and around objects that are arranged to create either symmetry or disorder. Balanced space often expresses symmetry, while
asymmetry or crowded areas can portray disorder, or act as points of emphasis. Step 6. Observe the proportion of the art piece, or
the way items are placed next to one another to create harmony. Check if certain elements are next to others
to balance the size or to add a larger contrast for emphasis. A comprehensive art history book will give
you more information about composition through analysis and commentaries on specific famous
pieces. Step 7. Step back and take a complete look at the
work. Keep everything you’ve noticed in mind,
but don’t forget that a great work of art is much more than the sum of its parts. Did you know Michelangelo was 26 years old
when he finished sculpting the David.

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  1. I went to an art gallery yesterday at a college for art (I was invited by someone who owned an exhibit) and I just felt way over my head.. I couldn't understand how an alley way with a random brick wall could be incredible, maybe some people just can't get It like others..

  2. I found only one satisfactory system of composition where such terms as depicted object and element of composition are not mixed up – in the book Composition of a Picture by Evgeniy Stasenko. It's available on Amazon

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