There are so many terms and phrases used in the world of art and design that sometimes it can be confusing to understand what everything means! Composition is one of these words that you may have heard when browsing our range of original paintings for sale, and for an artist it is an incredibly important term.

Composition is the structure or arrangement of visual elements within a picture. As well as composing paintings, composition is important for photographers too. Knowing how to use composition well can take any image from being ordinary to becoming a totally different piece altogether, effecting the feel of any painting dramatically.

There are a few different elements that an artist should bear in mind when they are planning their next painting, in order to use composition effectively.


Using elements of symmetry can make a piece seem calm and serene, whereas deliberately disrupting the symmetrical quality of an arrangement can create an element of unrest and turbulence. For example, although it doesn’t use perfect symmetry, Summer Haze by CK Wood uses a green grass that curves equally across the canvas to create a circle in the middle of the paintings, resulting in an image that is easy on the eye and aesthetically pleasing.

Summer Haze


Deciding where to place emphasis in a painting can change the focal point of any image. Whereas conventionally, the object of interest would be placed in the foreground for the viewer to focus on, some artists play with this element and choose to place their focus in unexpected areas. With no focus however, the eyes of the viewer get lost wandering around an image.


Bold differences between light and dark in a painting can create a dramatic and dynamic effect. Artists will use high levels of contrast deliberately to make a painting pop with vibrancy, whereas someone looking to create a calmer image will use lower levels of contrast. Richard Young has a beautiful selection of oil paintings for sale on Art2Arts that make brilliant use of contrast to add drama to every piece. In Arabian Coffee Wakes, a bold contrast between the very background and the foreground creates a spotlight effect, shining down on the belly dancer that this painting focusses on. Even within the body of the belly dancer, contrast is used by the artist to highlight the carved and toned body of the beautiful athlete.

Arabian Coffee Awakes