work from term 3 : what we learned form Velasquez and Leger


TERM 3composing a composition


 More or less in the style of!


This term we had a good look at the pictorial elements of grammar necessary for building a strong composition. By studying other artists work we learnt a lot about what their chief considerations were


Point , line, shape, tone and texture  are the building blocks of composition.


Use of point


We had a look at the relationships between the placement of points(where your eye pauses in a composition) to see how their proximity helped or hindered  the relationship of things in the composition and also created a sense of movement through the composition


, use of line


to create structure, (verticals for strength


balance(horizontals for balance and calm and their  use to unify elements in the composition


diagonals for movement and  drama


use of tone


Use of tone to create interest(increase of tone to give emphasis)


Use of tone  to show form (light falling on forms to give a feeling of shape)


also to create distance(tones getting lighter as things recede


use of shape


how small shapes draw you back to include more in the frame of things and big shapes make it a more focussed , dramatic composition


Fresco brush exercise


We also did some fresco brush exercises (brushes attached to sticks) where we had very little control over the mark making and ended up focusing on the rhythms, there in the work we were looking at AND also the nice painterly mark that the uncontrolled wayward brush made!!! After all the best things in paint happen through happy accident.




The format or shape of the painting is really the first consideration and by cropping your reference photo or sketch you can see how much of the composition to include and what actual shape the canvas is going to be


We had a good look and did a number of sketches from compositions by Velazquez and Leger to see how they deployed these elements , which then helped make our own compositions strong


A composition is an organic thing .Elements need to be shuffled and altered to make things work and this  term I think we all got used to idea of shifting things (ruthlessly in some cases!) if they just didn’t work where they were.If it doesn’t work( what you just painted) then you try something else!!!


In the end it creates much more interesting passages of paint.


In this post I would like to focus on just  several students work.


To show in more depth how the exercises they did, from Velasquez and Leger informed their paintings

here are some initial sketches














David Thompson

Davids composition benefited from the strong use of verticals and horizontals he found in Leger’s work









Wendy Selkirk also made a strong composition with the help of good structure

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i will also add Wendy’ s  first composition which was a lovely study but lacked the strength of the second work.



Rowena Poole

Ro learned about pushing motifs around in a composition until they feel in the right place and how that helps make interesting passages of paint.

She also learnt about working in series.

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Angie Ng

Angie made a strong interesting composition  making that darn diagonal work very well



Jane Liu made several very successful portraits

especially learning how important the format was and how to place the figure in it

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Mary Finlay learned about tone from the “Red Balloon” in this great little grisaille study

mary findlay


Karen Bolitho learned about using the biggest brush she can find that will fit into the space and how to use gesture AS WELL as detail.

Very successful strong landscape composition



Roger Whiting made a beautiful landscape composition with strong composition and subtle effective movement




A fantastic term everyone.I felt we made leaps and bounds freehand drawing  and gridding up the compositions onto the canvas.

More of that next term

All good

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