Monthly Archives: September 2008

Composition

The “what is art?” question comes up all the time, whenever two or more artists are gathered together. There is the school of thought which says it isn’t art if it has a function. There is the school which says it isn’t art unless it has a message. There are those who say it must be beautiful.There are of course those who say it must look like something and say “My four year old could paint that” of anything which is abstract. There are those who think that conceptual art is the only relevant form of artistic expression in the twenty-first century, and there are those who find most of it unspeakable offensive.
I have come to the conclusion that the one unifying factor, what separates good art from bad regardless of the medium, is composition. Now I am not sure that I know how to define “good” composition, it certainly isn’t always necessary to follow classical rules for the “golden mean” or fibonacci numbers, but it is the one thing that can make a piece of art stand out, whether it is a photograph, a piece of sculpture or an installation. There are many great works of art from many periods which have no obvious message, are not representational or which may have offended someone at some time or another. What makes them great is the fact that they are all brilliantly composed.
My paintings rarely have any kind of a message beyond “I liked this so much I wanted to paint it”, but sometimes perhaps I at least get the composition right. Composition is probably my greatest weakness, my work will consequently never be great, but it is something that I will always strive for.

What to paint?

Sometimes I think that the world conspires against us artists. It is so hard to find a suitable spot to paint or even sketch. All the best scenes need to be viewed from the middle of the road it seems. I went out at lunchtime today with the best of intentions. I had decided to sketch the lighthouse down by the yacht club. I had done it once before a few years ago and I remember sitting on a comfortable bench and having a lovely view. Foiled again!
NOTL Lighthouse