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Framing the Landscape


If I were to say to a young child , ‘paint me a tree in a field’. As they might have no idea about composition, they would probably place the tree in the centre of their piece of paper.


Take a look at it closely and you will find that it makes the painting appear very flat, the only thing you see is the tree and nothing else. The reason for this is unimaginative composition, just as a musician composes music, an artist wishes to tell you a story of what they see, guiding your eye into the painting , leading you from one part of the painting to another and conveying a mood or feeling.

The Simple Approach to Composition – by Ashley Jackson

There are various mathematical ways of composing your painting, however having worked as an apprentice in a studio where we studied and replicate letters of the alphabet, I have devised a simple method using the letters L,U,X and Z for use in composition of your landscape. For simplicity I am going to talk about L Composition with the others left to one side for the moment.


Look at the image above and you can see a cottage, trees and landscape , which I have composed using the letter L. The cottage and the trees are the leg of the L and the path and field going into the distance form the foot of the L. This gives a nice balance and the eye is kept interested in the painting As you can see in the image below the L can work just as well in when reversed.

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Why not have a look at art books and paintings can you see L shapes in them? Practice painting and sketching within an L shape until you no longer have to physically draw the lines of the L. Further information can be found in Successful Watercolour Painting Ashley Jackson ISBN 0-7522-1079-3