When I was an art student in the 1970s, an instructor praised the composition of my painting in a crit, and then said, “You know you’re in trouble when the composition is the best thing about a painting.”
It was a confusing insult and a mean way to teach. But it was typical of a common attitude of the time: contempt for analysis of visual arrangement and an unwillingness to teach composition. Since then I’ve read several authors on the subject. One was “Pictorial Composition” by Henry Rankin Poore. It is a Dover reissue originally published prior to 1903.
Reading about composition has felt like a mischievous snub against those who denigrated me for wanting to learn about it thirty years ago.
ABOVE: Birches in Snow, micron pen on Holbein multi-drawing book, 5.5″ x 7.5″ (13.97 x 19.05 cm), Feb 10 2008