When starting a landscape painting, the amount of information you need to capture in a scene can be daunting. However, there is one crucial component if you don't pay attention to at the beginning, your painting will be ruined. So what is my #1 tip for landscape painters? COMPOSITION.
It will not matter how pretty you paint the scene or how beautiful your colors are mixed; the painting will be ruined if you don't know where to put your horizon line and your focal point.
What is composition? The simplest way to think of composition is where everything is placed and arranged on your canvas. There is an excellent blog about the 8 Elements of Composition which include unity, balance, movement, rhythm, focus, contrast, pattern, and proportion that can be found here. https://www.liveabout.com/elements-of-composition-in-art-2577514
I have THREE TIPS for building a BEAUTIFUL COMPOSITION that will help you achieve those 8 Elements.
Tip 1 - RULE OF THIRDS
If you've posted a photo on Instagram, you'll notice when you are adjusting the photo how two lines appear vertical, and two lines appear horizontal across your photo. This is known as breaking up the picture plane into thirds, hence The Rule of Thirds!
Why is this so important?? This grid helps you place your focal point and horizon line. If you place your horizon line directly in the middle of your canvas, you will "split in two" your composition. Also having the horizon line in the middle will also stop your eye from moving naturally around the scene.
Deciding to place your horizon line on either the top line or the bottom line depends on where you want the primary focus to be. Do you want the primary focus to be the sky? Or the land? I usually place my horizon line on the bottom line because I want more simplicity in my painting by having more sky than land.
Tip 2- FOCAL POINT
If you place your focal point directly in the middle of your composition, say a tree, your eye will not travel to the rest of the canvas because it doesn't need to. The reason you want to place your focal point to the left or right is to help the viewer's eyes travel across your painting.
Tip 3- DIAGONALS
Using diagonals in your composition will pull the viewer into the painting. Diagonals will help create movement while guiding the viewer's eye back and forth to create depth.
Here is another example of using a diagonal line to create movement.
Until I really started applying the Rule of Thirds, being intentional with my focal point and implementing diagonals, my paintings were boring. Even if you start using ONE of these Tips, I promise you will see a HUGE difference in your next landscape painting!
Comment below if you've already been using one, two or all three of these composition tips in your paintings!