Composition is the arrangement of the visual elements of a painting or artwork to create a cohesive whole. It is how the elements are organized or “composed” to express the artist’s intention ad evoke emotion. A well-composed piece will be balanced, unified, and harmonious.

Common elements of composition include:

  • Color is one of the most important elements of composition. It can be used to create mood, set the tone, and attract attention. Value (lightness and darkness) and saturation (intensity) are also important aspects of color.
  • Line is used to define shape, create movement, and direct the viewer’s eye. It can be either straight or curved, thick or thin, horizontal or vertical.
  • Shape is created by the outlines of objects. It can be geometric (e.g. circles, squares, triangles) or organic (e.g. leaves, flowers, clouds).
  • Space is the area around, between, and within objects. It can be positive (the object itself) or negative (the empty space around the object).
  • Texture is the surface quality of an object. It can be smooth, rough, soft, hard, etc.
  • Form is the three-dimensional quality of an object. It includes height, width, and depth.
  • Value is the lightness or darkness of a color. It is created by the amount of light that reflects off of an object.
  • Saturation is the intensity of a color. The more saturated a color is, the more pure and vibrant it will appear.