when you study the meaning of composition in a course on art & how it is made, you are instructed to look for lines, shapes, colors, the rule of three (and the rule of odds), the golden mean, horizon lines & how they are arranged; the organization but not the subject. it seems to me to be so calculated as if there were some secret handshake amongst artists (an evil cabal) that only they know about. & perhaps that is true in a way; artists do inhabit a world separate from other people (when i use the word ‘artist’ i mean those with something to say–although as you may know from reading this blog, i do support beauty for its own sake, but beauty for its own sake is a calculated risk as opposed to art that actually confronts your own preconceived notions of whatever emotion or intellectual topic may be displayed before you, making you dig deeper, explore further, contemplate the differences between what you are looking at & what you are feeling.)
in a discussion about composition you must also consider chance. the photo that i took yesterday at the flea market with the camera in my cell phone surprised me with its perfect design; together in shapes (parasol, hips, heads, tents,) lines, colors (that orange sherbet!), & contrast (cold blues, whites & hot orange.)
the shadow lines in the lower left force the perspective along with the movement of the three figures in the fore-to-mid-ground, but the photo’s composition was done on the fly with a tiny screen & while i was in motion walking behind them. i have not enhanced or manipulated the photo in any way it just came together surprising me with its perfection (to my eye, of course, you may be looking at it & saying “robert, it’s out of focus, & you can’t see the subject’s faces & what does it mean?”)
but i look at it & think about the random quality of life, how sometimes it comes together in unexpected ways that are beautiful & unusual & breath-taking & how those moments completely surprise you later when you’ve a moment to reflect on the chances that life presents you, but only if you’re looking (how aware of you are of your environment.) it’s something each of us has inside of us if we’ll only pay attention to its siren call.
& isn’t that the key to composition? taking a chance & being aware of what it is you’re doing? seeing & being–open your heart & open your mind. (too ‘new-age’ for you? trust me, it’s all true.) let your emotions & your intellect have a conversation & composition (the actual structure of life) will come to you when you least expect it. artists know this & you do too, if you’ll let it be.