5 Art Composition Tips: How to Simplify a Busy Painting

By:  Courtesy of ArtistNetwork.com.

Editor’s Note: Join Johannes for a free 90-minute painting demo on January 6, 2016 at 1:00 pm EST. For more info: http://improvemypaintings.com

“Simplify.” We hear this all the time. This is easier said than done. We artists are always concerned that if we leave out too much, the painting doesn’t have enough visual information. If we put too much in, then we give the viewer a mental overload. Think of your viewer’s brain as if it’s a document scanner. When you clutter the painting, his brain will need to process all the pixels, leaving little room for him to daydream. I believe the term “daydream” is an excellent way to convey what is expected by you, the artist, to stimulate your viewer’s participation with his imagination.

Johannes painting

The idea is to create a metaphor of a scene and allow the viewer to add her own experience. The worst compliment I can get for a painting is when someone asks if it’s a photograph. On the other hand, the best compliment I can get is when someone says something like, “I see myself sitting on that dock looking into that sunset, having a cool drink with my grandchild next to me.” If you can pretend you’re a children’s movie animator, all the better. Children don’t need detail to enjoy a cartoon because they’re filling in all the left out information with their vivid imagination.

Here are some recommendations to help you simplify your art composition. Take this as good news: You don’t have to work so hard to end up with a winning painting.


5 Art Composition Pointers

1. Leave the very bottom of your foreground alone and just use it to draw in the viewer. This is the most common area to originate a visual path. On the other hand, feel free to add detail to the middle ground. This is the area where the viewer will normally be looking with his head straight. The background should just be a support and mostly can be done with soft edges.

See numbers 2 – 5! Read the whole article on the ArtistsNetwork.com