Hey - in the beginning of January I attended a Marshal Vandruff Composition seminar in Brea, California. I'm just going to post my notes and thoughts about the workshop. So... 1) I understand the material better as I write. 2) For people thinking about taking his workshop or 3) You are too cheap to take his workshop and would rather read my notes instead.
Basically in this workshop, Marshall lectures for about 12 hours over 3 days regarding various tools you can use to get a better composition. Listening to him talk is entertaining because he uses his expansive vocabulary to deftly describe the most abstract artistic concepts. He also finds the need to sprinkle a music reference about Chopin, Beethoven, Schubert every 25 seconds. During the lecture, you will often find yourself making thumbnail sketches from master-studies that have had the "gaussian blur" applied over them in photoshop. This is honestly a good exercise. Frankly, I probably wouldn't have had the patience to do this myself - so if you have time to do blurred out composition studies for 12 hours, you can skip the workshop and save yourself $120. Just kidding, his lecture is seriously pretty good.
Composition - this is the "Design." These are the numerous choices you make in your illustration regarding how to use line, tone, shape, form, value, color, etc... Composition is separate from mastery of a medium or how well you know perspective and anatomy. There are tools you can use to achieve a better composition.
- Tools & Concepts -
Use Metaphors and Touchstones to imbue abstract qualities into your composition.
Consonance - Use motifs, rhymes and echos to make your piece look cool. It is mesmerizing.
Balance is a tool critical to achieve contrast. You can use it to push two opposites very far and achieve high contrast. But only with proper balance - will it look good.
Dominance is the concept of having a primary read or a focal point in your piece. Make one thing more important than the rest to state your message clearly.
Light and Dark Massing - use this to achieve a clear read for your piece. It can serve to clarify or obscure your subjects. Generally - it just looks good when you mass.
Contrast - "Name your dominant quality and surround it with your opposite." It really amplifies your message.
Continuity - this is how you lead your viewer's eye around the page. You create paths in the painting.
Rhythm and Pattern - this is how your painting "sounds." How do you want your painting to sound?
Transition and Counterchange - This stuff is naturally cool. Just do it. Transitions are like gradients and stuff. Counterchange is when opposites reverse. Light and dark to dark and light. There is beauty in irony.
Well... chances are you have no idea what I just said. But its okay. If this stuff sounds interesting to you, you might enjoy his seminar. He is teaching again. http://www.marshallart.com/seminars/info/index.php