Composition verse Design Concepts In Abstracts



Have you ever painted on your canvas and wondered what you did to create that incredible painting?


Or just the opposite, you keep looking at your canvas and ask, what am I doing wrong? I used to ask myself this question over and over again and felt so defeated.


This very question leads me to this blog!!!


Which is more important in creating our abstracts and what should we concentrate on when painting our paintings? Concentrating on the composition or knowing concepts to direct our shapes, colors and markings? Should we pay attention to both composition and the concepts? Which of the two has the most impact to our work?


Let me first talk about the meaning of both words in comparison to our artworks.


Composition according to the art world is the arrangement or the placement of what is seen, the elements, the marks in the work. Many times as an artist, we chose our composition based on preset standards we have learned. Just because an artist uses a preset rule to place colors or marks on the canvas, does not seem to mean the painting will look good. You can paint a large object on a canvas by following the composition rules, and still wonder why the piece looks like it still needs something.


So if composition alone is not the key to incredible abstracts, what is that missing important piece to creating abstracts that produce incredible artwork?


I had to search to find that piece that was missing!! This took me several years to realize but once I did, I have increased my sales and my confidence in my paintings. (One thing to remember: a certain abstract style might appeal to one person and not another, appeal is not what I am talking about!!)


That missing piece is learning the design concepts that we need in our art to create eye appealing pieces. When you see a painting that makes you feel something or makes you want to keep looking at it, more than likely, it has something in it that holds your attention. The marks are different, you connect with something in the painting, the design just holds your interest!!!


Composition is important, but it is more than the composition. I have found it is more about design concepts.


A strong painting has shapes that are different from each other…. Some big, some small, some messy or some more confided like a straight line. The design concepts are basically the same, however, each artist will have their bucket of designs they “go to” that create their unique style.


Here are some questions that I ask, and for you, your questions might be a different set depending on YOUR style, but the concept is the same:


Where does the eye go and how is the eye carried through the painting? Does the eye get stuck somewhere? How can I get the flow into my painting if it is stuck? Are all my shapes the same size? Are they the same shapes even. Do I have both messy shapes balanced with some more confined shapes that appear the opposite? Are some of my shapes on the canvas and some floating off the canvas? Does my eye move from one shape to the next because they are interesting to look at?


Look at this painting, “Admiring Addy.” When I first look at this painting, I see that large messy circle on the left. Then the eyes pops over to the lines in the upper right that are thick and broken with scratches. As the under-painting has marks that are blending in with the background, the marks on the painting that are more pronounced grab my eye. Then my eyes go down to the large blob of paint with scratching in it…. then over to the little marks to the right ….


Anyone looking at this painting, could offer other suggestions to improve the painting, but that is what abstract is all about, the viewers love or desire for a piece of art, or the opposite, their dislike.


Of course there are other principles that enter into what makes one painting more appealing to the eye than the other such as the light and darks, the paint colors I might choose, the layers upon layers of texture and the mix of my personal style I tend to add in each of my abstracts, but the interest in the design concepts to me has proven to be the most effective for me in my creating art that others seem to want, and more importantly to me, paintings I love.


Have you ever painted on your canvas and wondered what you did to create that incredible painting? Or just the opposite, you keep looking at your canvas and ask, what am I doing wrong? I used to ask myself this question over and over again and felt so defeated.


This very question leads me to this blog!!!


Which is more important in creating our abstracts and what should we concentrate on when painting our paintings? Concentrating on the composition or knowing concepts to direct our shapes, colors and markings? Should we pay attention to both composition and the concepts? Which of the two has the most impact to our work?


Let me first talk about the meaning of both words in comparison to our artworks.


Composition according to the art world is the arrangement or the placement of what is seen, the elements, the marks in the work. Many times as an artist, we chose our composition based on preset standards we have learned. Just because an artist uses a preset rule to place colors or marks on the canvas, does not seem to mean the painting will look good. You can paint a large object on a canvas by following the composition rules, and still wonder why the piece looks like it still needs something.


So if composition alone is not the key to incredible abstracts, what is that missing important piece to creating abstracts that produce incredible artwork?


I had to search to find that piece that was missing!! This took me several years to realize but once I did, I have increased my sales and my confidence in my paintings. (One thing to remember: a certain abstract style might appeal to one person and not another, appeal is not what I am talking about!!)


That missing piece is learning the design concepts that we need in our art to create eye appealing pieces. When you see a painting that makes you feel something or makes you want to keep looking at it, more than likely, it has something in it that holds your attention. The marks are different, you connect with something in the painting, the design just holds your interest!!!


Composition is important, but it is more than the composition. I have found it is more about design concepts.


A strong painting has shapes that are different from each other…. Some big, some small, some messy or some more confided like a straight line. The design concepts are basically the same, however, each artist will have their bucket of designs they “go to” that create their unique style.


Here are some questions that I ask, and for you, your questions might be a different set depending on YOUR style, but the concept is the same:


Where does the eye go and how is the eye carried through the painting? Does the eye get stuck somewhere? How can I get the flow into my painting if it is stuck? Are all my shapes the same size? Are they the same shapes even. Do I have both messy shapes balanced with some more confined shapes that appear the opposite? Are some of my shapes on the canvas and some floating off the canvas? Does my eye move from one shape to the next because they are interesting to look at?


Look at this painting, “Admiring Addy.” When I first look at this painting, I see that large messy circle on the left. Then the eyes pops over to the lines in the upper right that are thick and broken with scratches. As the under-painting has marks that are blending in with the background, the marks on the painting that are more pronounced grab my eye. Then my eyes go down to the large blob of paint with scratching in it…. then over to the little marks to the right ….



Anyone looking at this painting, could offer other suggestions to improve the painting, but that is what abstract is all about, the viewers love or desire for a piece of art, or the opposite, their dislike.


Of course there are other principles that enter into what makes one painting more appealing to the eye than the other such as the light and darks, the paint colors I might choose, the layers upon layers of texture and the mix of my personal style I tend to add in each of my abstracts, but the interest in the design concepts to me has proven to be the most effective for me in my creating art that others seem to want, and more importantly to me, paintings I love.

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