Try working with a limited palette of 3 primaries, one dark neutral and one white. One of my favorites is:
Cobalt blue - Burnt umber
Alizarin crimson - Titanium white
You may experiment with other colors you like, just remember to keep it to 3 primaries and one dark neutral plus white.
If necessary, you can always add in a brighter primary for the areas in highlight—for example, I often will use a cadmium yellow in addition to the colors above when working on sunlit landscapes just to get that extra “glow” in my greens.
When painting white objects, pay attention to the temperature of the object itself, as well as to the temperature of the colors it is reflecting especially in the shadows
Although the painting above is of a pile of all white laundry, a variety of colors was used to paint it: yellow ochre, cobalt blue, dioxazine violet, burnt umber and titanuium white. Notice the warm and cool highlights on the silky fabrics, they are more of an off white as opposed to the cool whites of the cottons. The color variation provides interest as well as defines the textures of the different fabrics.
Working with Values &Temperature to Create Mood & Atmosphere
Vary the mood and atmosphere of your paintings through your color choices:
Dark colors can be used to create a dramatic lighting effect as in the painting top right
Bright colors can create a lighter, more festive feeling
The rule of thirds is a guideline commonly followed by visual artists. The objective is to stop the subject(s) and areas of interest (such as the horizon) from bisecting the image, by placing them near one of the lines that would divide the image into three equal columns and rows, ideally near the intersection of those lines.
Source: Composition, (Visual Arts), Wikipedia The painting on the left follows the rule of thirds, notice the placement of the objects of interest close to the orange lines. The painting on the right does not follow the rule of thirds, but it still is successful compositionally, why?
The rule of odds states that by displaying an odd number of objects, there is always one in the middle that is "framed" by the surrounding objects.
Source: Composition (Visual Arts), Wikipedia The painting on the left, a diptych, breaks the rule of odds by having 4 objects (the mason jars) instead of 3, yet it is a successful composition. What other compositional techniques are used to make it work? What other rules are broken? Describe the compositional strategies of the painting on the right.
The applies to artwork (photography, advertising, illustration) picturing object(s): - to which the artist wants to apply the illusion of movement
This can be achieved by leaving white space in the direction the eyes of a portrayed person are looking at. Another example would be when picturing a runner, adding white space behind him rather than in front of him to indicate movement.
Source: Composition (Visual Arts) Wikipedia The painting on the left shows figures moving in opposite directions, there is space implied by the shadows behind the figures walking into the painting and those walking toward the viewer. The headlights on the cars in the painting at right are aimed into the empty road, further implying space.
Images with clutter can distract from the main elements within the picture and make it difficult to identify the subject. By decreasing the extraneous content, the viewer is more likely to focus on the primary objects. Clutter can also be reduced through the use of lighting, as the brighter areas of the image tend to draw the eye, as do lines, squares and color. In painting, the artist may use less detailed and defined brushwork towards the edges of the picture.
Source: Composition (Visual Arts) Wikipedia In this painting, the surrounding buildings and traffic are depicted with looser brushwork than that of the main building and figures. The triangle created by the elements in this image further solidifies the composition.
When used properly in the right setting, this technique can place everything that is not the subject of the painting out of focus.
Geometry and symmetry
The "rule of odds" suggests that an odd number of subjects in an image is more interesting than an even number. Thus if you have more than one subject in your picture, the suggestion is to choose an arrangement with at least three subjects. An even number of subjects produces symmetries in the image, which can appear less natural for a naturalistic, informal composition.
Related to the rule of odds is the observation that triangles are an aesthetically pleasing implied shape within an image. In a attractive face, the mouth and eyes fall within the corners of the area of an equilateral triangle.
Source: Composition: Visual Arts, Wikipedia
Other Compositional Techniques (just remember it’s ok to challenge the rules!)
There should be a center of interest or focus in the work, to prevent it becoming a pattern in itself;
The direction followed by the viewer's eye should lead the viewer's gaze around all elements in the work before leading out of the picture;
The subject should not be facing out of the image;
A moving subject should have space in front;
Exact bisections of the picture space should be avoided;
Small, high contrast, elements have as much impact as larger, duller elements;
The prominent subject should be off-centre, unless a symmetrical or formal composition is desired, and can be balanced by smaller satellite elements
the horizon line should not divide the art work in two equal parts but be positioned to emphasize either the sky or ground; showing more sky if painting is of clouds, sun rise/set, and more ground if a landscape