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Painting Composition - Line of Design

Updated on March 1, 2013
Horizontal Triangle Example
Horizontal Triangle Example | Source
Horizontal Triangle
Horizontal Triangle | Source

Horizontal Triangle

Notice how the basic shape in this watercolor ,Boutilier's Lake, matches the Horizontal Triangle. The tree on the right adds balance and curiosity to the viewer... wondering what's beyond. Subtly included is the Hogarth Curve (below). Note how your eye flows from bottom left to right in the water, then left across the treeline and finally out through the top right corner of the pink sky.

Dover Point - Watercolor
Dover Point - Watercolor | Source

L Shape

Remember, your composition doesn't have to be exact like the L Shape as in this watercolor. I'm sure you get the message.

Dover Dawn - Mixed Media
Dover Dawn - Mixed Media | Source

Hogarth Curve

Here is a good example of the Hogarth Curve in this mixed media painting, Dover Dawn. Note how you automatically walk down the path and into the mysterious unknown. Then you unconsciously fly like a up and over to the right through the light breaking forth in the sky.

This is one of my favorite pieces. It was a reject due to overworking. The sky was the only part I liked. When I blow it in a painting, I go at it with whatever works. I fixed it by covering the (mud) with acrylic and pastel. I shocked myself with the outcome. It's a full sheet of watercolor 22x30. I had considered selling it, but didn't just couldn't part with it. There are a number of buyers who wanted it.

Moser Island winter - Watercolor
Moser Island winter - Watercolor | Source

Vertical Triangle

Seldom do I paint snow scenes, but I walk Moser Island Road most of the time. It's an inspiring dirt road where you may see rare birds like a Palliated Woodpecker or Bittern. Not in the winter though.

The Back Field - Watercolor
The Back Field - Watercolor | Source

C Shape

Here's another homy painting. Often we traveled the woods to go fishing. Coming from the back field, the rooftop of a home was one of the first building that came into view. Sometimes the barn. This C Shape watercolor brings lots of fond memories when I was a little squirt!

From the Eye of the Ant - Watercolor
From the Eye of the Ant - Watercolor | Source

X Shape

Although not the greatest example, you can see the X Shape created from the light and dandelions if you let your imagination run wild. It's easier to accomplish an X Shape with still life subject matter which isn't my thing.

More Hubs on painting tips will be forthcoming so visit often and share with your friends. If you have any questions, excluding portraits or figures, please do so in the Comment box. Thanks, Ivan.


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    • Ivan Fraser profile image

      Ivan Fraser 4 years ago from Glen Margaret, Nova Scotia

      Hi Anish: Thanks for the great compliments. Yes, the simple sketches depicting the line of design are mine along with each painted sample. I flipped through photos and paintings of my works that fit each design. They weren't painted specifically for this Hub. That's why the comment about the X shape not being the best example.

      For some, especially beginners, the best solution to accomplish a great painting is to draw a little sketch (4x6 or even 2x3) on location and then start your painting right on the spot or go back to the studio. I paint without sketches on my watercolor paper. Some begin with a light pencil sketch. There's more freedom and happy accidents when free of sketches.

      Perhaps I'll do a Hub on that subject. It's a lesson I learned from a great artist and friend, David Whitzman.