As an artistic term, composition refers to the arrangement of visual elements on a page or a canvas. It is a tool the artist uses to express specific feelings about a subject and to guide the viewer through the artwork. An artist's message can be simply an interesting arrangement of forms, colors, or textures, or a more emotional or even literal representation of how the artist feels about a particular person, place, or thing. The important point to remember is that art is communication. For a work of art to communicate the artist's intent successfully, the first thing it must do is gain the viewer's attention, and then hold it. If a communication fails to attract attention, or after attracting attention presents a message that cannot be understood, the result is frustration for artist and viewer alike. This chapter explores the principles of composition that facilitate artistic communication.
It should be noted that composition is the most subjective of all the features of an artwork. Although many rules are presented here, they are meant only as guides and should not be allowed to inhibit your artistic expression.
GRAND SANDWICH, GOUACHE ON PAPER, 12 X 16'' (30.5 X 40.6 eM).
In this painting note how line, value, and texture have been combined to create a visually compelling composition.