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Christine Cox
Since 1999


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Learning How to Create Successful Compositions
By Claudine Hellmuth

We all know when we see a piece of artwork that we feel is successful, we know it "works" but we can't always say why we feel it works for us or put our finger on the exact reason it is so successful.

This is usually because the piece has a successful composition of elements that convey a contextual meaning to the viewer. The way the elements are arranged direct your eyes' movement through the piece of art and hold your interest.

This is where most art teachers would break out the diagrams that show you a circle, a square and a triangle and they show you how to make these elements into a good composition. 

BORING! And fraught with too many rules!

I would suggest looking at the works of art that you think are successful and writing in your journal or notebook about WHY you think these particular works are successful. Are you captured by the imagery? Where do you look first when you are looking at the artwork? Close your eyes and open them very quickly, what catches your eye first? Write all that down. Note the colors used and which colors are dominant and subdominant etc.

Then take out a piece of your own artwork. Take a good look at it. Write down what you think is successful about your artwork. Where does your eye look first when looking at your own work? Close your eyes and open them again to check. If you are having trouble noticing where your eye goes first on the piece, perhaps it is because you don't have a focal point to your artwork. Do you want a focal point? That is up to you! If you are happy with your work, then it is a successful work of art. If there is still that feeling in your stomach that something is not quite right, then keep looking at your piece objectively and write about why you feel it might not be as successful as you wanted it to be.

I encourage you to keep looking at the works of other artists and making notes. You will train your eyes to learn more about what you like and what you think is successful art. I also encourage you to make notes whenever you finish an artwork of your own -- write not only about what you think is successful but what you think doesn't work, what mood does your work convey? How does it make you feel? What messages were you trying to send to your viewer? Writing about all these things will help you to become closer with your artwork and will aide you in paying more attention to what you do! Through doing that you will grow as an artist! Even the best artist has room to learn from themselves and others!

By Bee Miller