Picture Composition – Equivalents

It is the experience of all picture makers that under the limitations which special subjects impose they are often obliged to search for an equivalent with which to comply with the requirements of composition.

If, for instance, in the arrangement of a picture it is found necessary to move an object—a tree, figure or other item of importance, instead of obliteration and repainting, the result is attained by creating an attraction on the side from which it is to be moved.

By so doing the range of the picture is increased and its space seems to take in more than its limits presupposed : If an isolated tree standing against a mass of trees, by opening the sky through that mass or by creating attraction of color or form therein, the vision is led to the far side of the object to be moved, which is thereby crowded out of its position in the balancing scheme.

An object upon a surface may frequently give place to a dark or light variation of the surface itself which becomes an equivalent of attraction.

Several objects may be made to balance with-out rearrangement though the marginal proportions of the picture are altered. The ship and moon 1 compose as an upright, but not in long shape without either the following line which indicates the ship’s course ; or an object of at-traction in the opposing half either in the dis-tance or foreground, much less being required in the latter than the former. The equivalent therefore of the leading line is the object on the farther shore.

The necessity of either the one or the other is more clearly shown when the line from the boat swings in the opposite direction.

An object may. be rendered less important by surrounding it with objects of its own kind and color.

An abrupt change in the direction of a line may have attraction equal to an object on that line.

With two spaces of equal size, importance may be given to one of them by increasing its light ; by using leading lines toward it, by placing an accent upon it, by creating a gradation in it.

Spots often become the equivalent of lines in their attractive value.

A series of oppositional lines has more picturesqueness than the tangent, its equivalent.

A gradation may have the equivalent attraction of an object.

A line in its continuity is more attractive than a succession of isolated objects.

The attractive value of an object in the scale of balance may be weakened by moving it toward the centre or extending the picture on that side.

Motion toward, either in intention or by action, is equivalent to balancing weight in that space of the picture to which the action is directed.

Light is increased by deepening contiguous tones ; dark, by heightening contiguous tones.

A still-life may be constructed on the same lines as any form on the vertical plane and many of the perspective plane of composition.