I preach composition all of the time, and yet I bet 1/3 of my first year
students wouldn't be able to tell you a definition for the word now after 10
weeks of school. BUT, they do know a lot more about composition. I don't know
how academic teachers do it. Do the rest of you feel as though too many of
your students are trying their hardest not to learn anything? Any of you hear
things like, "After all, this IS art!"
My compositional biggies are:
1. Nothing smack in the middle of the page.
2. Not dividing a composition in half visually (either vertically or
3. Not drawing everything you see, but selecting a section of a still life,
4. Letting things run off the page on at least 3 sides.
5. Avoiding large areas of negative space.
6. Balance, balance, balance.
I show examples to the group and the students tell me what makes the
composition good or not so good. I stay on them as individuals as they work
saying, "What can you do differently?" I hold their work up 10 feet or so in
front of them and then rotate so that it is sideways or upside down. It gives
them a fresh perspective, and they can see where it is unbalanced easier.
Telling them what they could have done differently after they are finished is
kind of a slap in the face, I think, although we do have class critiques of
homework assignments in my Advanced Art classes.
My beginning students do negative space drawings, where I hang a bicycle or
French horn or some other interesting object between a light source and a
screen. They paint the object with black tempera and then fill the negative
spaces with very bold patterns in oil pastel. They look terrific.
Hope to hear some more novel ideas!
PS - I love your screen name!
> 3. Help! I'm trying to teach about composition and all I get are alot
> of blank looks. Any suggestions?