Composition Critique

This was the drawing that I finished with in the LOD program. I’m happy with the quality but I honestly am not so sure of the composition and subject interest. I call it “The Last Opus”. It’s the actual tools of a famous German craftsmen used many decades ago and

are priceless to the new owner. That being said I’d appreciate a good hard critique of the piece. Thank you!


After reading about composition and all the technical aspects of the “golden ratio” etc., etc. My question really boils down to this. “My ignorance on the technical aspects of composition most likely breaks all rules, would this drawing be considered professional on the merit of composition only”? I feel that’s my downfall and it needs to be worked on.

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Pictorial composition can be a very complex topic which is why so much of it is rife with misrepresentation and nonsense. I find your composition here to be quite interesting. It is novel, but with familiar conventions that communicate effectively. If you would like to get a good grasp on Pictorial composition I would start with my seven part primer here:

It can be a little dense in spots but I don;t think the average reader would have too much difficulty.


I’m on it right now, THANKS!!

Interesting so far how using a sentence is related to composition, so far it’s great!

hi daniel, this is a beautiful piece of work! i doubt if anyone - even the world’s most revered expert on composition (if there is such a person!) would find reason to subtract marks. for what it’s worth, i give it 11 out of 10 :smiley:
had i been setting up the still life, i’d probably have chosen a conventional pose for the oboe (clarinet?) instead of the significantly more interesting one that you have chosen. to me, the open mouth of the instrument adds a lot of interest to the overall composition.

i was looking at paintings by peter van dyck recently, and what struck me most is that many paintings break a “major rule” of composition - there’s often a tree or lamppost or window frame going right bang up through the middle. and they’re great!

Well thank you very much for the compliment. I’m reading what Anthony posted here and it’s very interesting so far! I’m actually learning alot. I’ll be breaking all the rules but not on purpose though lol!

Wow, it’s wonderful, Daniel! Love the blurr vs sharpness and sense of space that it creates!

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Thank you! I appreciate that very much.

It’s a very nice work. What I noticed about it, composition wise, is how my eyes kept being “sucked” back to the head of that little hammer. I don’t know if others felt the same. This is by no means a critique, just a strong feel I got watching the piece.

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I’ve gotten to where it is hard for me to speak about composition “rights” and “wrongs”, “good” and “bad”. It seems all I feel comfortable saying is how choices affect the viewer’s gaze, what the choices might communicate, what is conventional/unconventional, and what feeling the compositional choices might give the viewer (i.e. comfort/discomfort) by referencing statistical preferences found in research.

With respect to your work: I didn’t think anything negative about the composition when I looked at it. You did a great job on the piece, and you can be proud of it. I like it, and I am impressed with it. Nice job, and thank you for posting!

With respect to the composition specifically, the areas in focus (with the most detail) which attract my gaze repeatedly, all occur in a horizontal region about 1/3 of the way down. That might be a little unconventional (not bad, just not as common), since most tend to put areas of focus near or around the center, and usually the areas of focus don’t all occur in a horizontal band. You communicated space well using the blurred focus for the background and foreground elements, leaving one plane of focus. The only reason the area in focus forms a horizontal band is because the objects at that depth are not very vertical in their spatial extent.

I don’t know if what I typed is worth much to you since I just spoke mechanically about the visual arrangement and gave no “rights” or “wrongs”.

To me, it is more about whether or not your choices accomplished your visual goals for the piece, which are yours to set. There isn’t a “right” or “wrong”. There is just effective/ineffective at achieving your goals. The only thing I know to speak of that has an aspect of aesthetic judgement are the preferences found in aesthetics research, such as presented in the talk below by Steve Palmer. I’m sure Anthony knows tons of others.

I hope that helps! Great application of your skill in your piece!


Excellent posts by everyone here and very VERY good information to ponder. I think knowing the “rules” and mechanics of composition is a must but I agree there may be no “right” or “wrong” but instead it’s what you want conveyed to the viewer. I find it all extremely interesting. Thank you!!!


Very well stated John. :heart: