What is composition and why is it important?

Composition in art is how different parts of the design are arranged and there are some “rules” of composition that can be followed to get a more pleasing result. 

There are lots of ways to think about composition including geometry, balance, rhythm and movement. If composition is new to you, this guide shows you a simple technique that you can try in your textured art. 

Rules of composition

Rules of composition include techniques for design such as The Rule of Thirds. There are also ideas about how to use the different elements of your art to create harmony, balance, focus, movement, symmetry, unity or contrast.

You don’t need to apply all these together to improve your art and of course, you are free to ignore these “rules” completely. Make your art your way!

I think it’s worth getting familiar with ideas of composition to see what you like.

How do these apply to textured or mixed media art?

Ideas about composition apply across all art forms. In textured art they apply just the same, creating interest at key points for a more satisfying result.

However, when we’re creating with permanent textures, adjustments are limited, so it can be helpful to plan before you start.

I like to plan heavier textures using the rule of thirds, so I can build up a focal point in a good place. I can use shallow textures and other elements elsewhere but still keep the composition in mind.

Introduction to The Rule of Thirds

A commonly known technique is The Rule of Thirds. This idea looks at how different elements are placed in your artwork. It’s simple to apply to art that is square or rectangular.

Imagine your canvas is split into thirds, from left to right and top to bottom, to form a grid. Where the lines cross over you have identified key areas. Choose one of these points for the main attraction in your art, this is going to be where you place your focal point.

Sometimes I lay pieces of string across my canvas to guide me but you can mark it out or just imagine it.

A grid showing the rule of thirds

You can also use the grid lines to guide where you put other elements too, for example, a skyline.

What is a focal point?

Imagine the focal point as the star of the show in your art, the part that the viewer sees first that catches their attention.

There are lots of different ways to make this point stand out. It could be something large, very textured, dark or light or just something different from everything else.

When I create textured art it helps me to have chosen this element when I begin. It might be a mixed media piece or even a colour but if I know what it is, I can prepare the base texture for it.

I have another blog about creating a focal point in textured, mixed media art here.

Create a mixed media art with the rule of thirds

Here is an example of how I have used the rule of thirds to create a mixed media, textured art.

A Powertex art with a Rule of Thirds grid overlay for composition

This piece is improved in composition because of the rule of thirds.

  • The main focal point is a structure of mixed media layers and textures.
  • It’s the heaviest part of the canvas, with lots of details.
  • It sits around one of the intersections of the grid.
  • Other elements use the “horizon line” of the grid.
  • The right vertical line is used to place other textures.
  • These other elements are less weighty and do not compete with the focal point.

Some improvements could be made but it’s mostly successful. I would lower the number 3 element if I could go back!

Have a clear focal point

This second piece is not successful and we can see how the textures and elements are not following the rule.

The second piece of Powertex art with a rule of thirds grid overlay

  • The elements are interesting but they are too far away from the grid lines.
  • There is no clear focal point.
  • My eye bounces between the bottom left and top right as they compete for attention.
  • Neither of these elements uses the rule of thirds to their advantage.

Another example

This mixed media art has tried to follow the rule of thirds but still feels off.

Powertex art, elements textured art with grid overlay

  • It has placed the main elements along the left grid line but it has missed the key intersections.
  • To me, the element on the right feels too heavy, it’s not clear which is the focal point.

Tips for using the rule of thirds in textured art

  • Visualise or mark your grid and the intersections before you start.
  • To start, plan one of the intersecting points for the placement of a focal point.
  • Decide where your heavy and lighter textures will go for this focal point.
  • Build up your textures and layers and make adjustments while your materials are wet.
  • As you layer up your artwork, keep the focal point the star of the show.
  • Let other elements add quieter interest without competing.

One of the reasons I love to use Powertex for textured and mixed media art is the long working time. In normal temperatures, I can get at least an hour of working time with Powertex Universal Medium.

If I’m using texture pastes like Easy Structure, I have to be quicker, but a spray of water helps to keep it moving if I need a bit more time.

Composition ideas

There are many ways to think about composition in your art and the rule of thirds is just one. It’s possible to combine many of these as you get more confident. If these ideas are new to you, I hope you’ll give this a try.

I’m a Powertex tutor in the UK and my supplies come from Powertex UK. If you are new to Powertex products, find out more here or check out my Etsy shop for Powertex instruction that you can download instantly.

1 Comment

Creating a focal point in textured art - Kore Sage | Mixed Media Artist · 23rd July 2023 at 11:02 am

[…] the first article, we thought about composition in textured art with the Rule of Thirds and how this can improve our art. In this article, we will look at creating […]

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