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The Importance of Composition and Drawing

Bastille Resistance dinner

By Maguito Luna

The foundation of almost all art since the cave drawing has been composition and drawing. These two elements plus values is all a painter needs to find his way. Today, art school teachers will lead students through as much as one or two years of drawing to teach them to “see.”

Composition exists in Old Master paintings, the Impressionists, and much of contemporary art, including installation pieces. Even sculptors work from good composition and drawings. Getting a good composition in mind is why so many representational artists first do thumbnail sketches and studies, as do many abstract artists. Standing outside with a small hand held viewer, the artist looks through it and finds a good composition and then draws that into his sketchbook. It is not a science, but it does have parameters which help the viewer follow a understandable path within a painting. Rules of composition are derived from how the human brain processes visual information in the most pleasing way.

Drawing—good drawing—can stand on its own, exhibiting in museums around the world. It is a true art form and is required for representational paintings. It is the blueprint the artist uses to glide through the painting, knowing beforehand that the journey is accurate.

So first comes the composition, the part that makes a pleasing painting for the viewer. Whether it’s divided into thirds or done by intuitive knowledge, get this part down. Then draw with brush, pen, or charcoal to create your guide.

Carry a sketchbook and learn to “see.” Start your creative joy with good composition and better drawing. The adventure of painting will be more rewarding.

For more information or just art talk over coffee, contact me at


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