Format, object and background

Here, as well as further in the book, I would like to convey the knowledge gained in the process of personal experience, and not refer to quoting well-known sources. If necessary, the reader will be able to find many other resources to expand knowledge about the composition. I will state only my own understanding of the subject.

When creating a composition, the artist deals with three components:

Format. It includes both the definition of style and genre, and the size of the created composition. In this respect, size dimensions are that interest us.

Object. In other words - the subject of the work, which in most cases reflected in the title of the work.

Background. All things that fill the format, except the object. It serves as a means of enhancing the expressiveness of the object.

In the three presented examples of a female image in painting, the format, object and background in each of the works have different ratios

Composition in the painting "Mona Lisa"

In the painting by Leonardo da Vinci, the size of the object exceeds the size of the format, allowing the viewer to “finish drawing outside the frame”. The distant Italian landscape, as a background, emphasizes the scale and significance of the female image.

Leonardo Da Vinci, "Mona Lisa"

Composition in the painting "Madame Monet"

Claude Monet's painting has no background. According to the name, we see three objects, where only one object, namely the garden of the artist (not any garden!) Extends beyond the scope of the format. The other two objects, Madame Monet and the child, being in the foreground are not dominant in relation to the garden. For me, the picture expresses the artist’s love for his home, harmony and tranquility.

Claude Monet, “Madame Monet with a child in the garden of the artist in Argenteuil"

Composition in the painting "Lilac"

Mikhail Vrubel determined the lilac flowers that go beyond the format, as the object of his paintings. The frightening, almost mystical female image that serves as the background also disappears outside the format. Here, the background enhances the feeling of sadness and melancholy emanating from the author. Contemporaries of M. Vrubel noted that he was "a person detached from life".

Mikhail Vrubel, "Lilac"


Now I would like to talk about the fourth component of the composition, which only the viewer deals with:

Subject of the picture by including motifs from other works of the author. As an example, I want to introduce in continuation of my impression of the painting "Lilac", a painting by Mikhail Vrubel "Sitting demon".

Mikhail Vrubel, "Sitting Demon"

is not a consciously planned component of the composition. But it will certainly appear if the artist is honest with himself and sincerely conveys his thoughts and feelings in the work.

Leonardo Da Vinci, "Ginevra de Benchi"
Mikhail Vrubel, "Self portrait"
Claude Monet "Magpie"

For composition practice:
Perspective exercise 1 »
Perspective exercise 2 »
Perspective exercise 3 »

All the above exercises far from exhaust the possibilities of mastering the composition as a tool for the implementation of creative initiative. Basically, they are designed, as has already been said, to develop right hemispheric perception and to achieve more complete consistency in the joint work of both hemispheres. As a reward for this work, your brain will give you a portion of the hormone of satisfaction :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are market *

Scroll to Top