Am höchsten bewertete kritische Rezension
am 20. März 2016
I came in with some previous knowledge and awareness for composition, picked up here and there mostly from non-traditional artists, and wanting a more thorough view on the topic.
First of all, this book is not thorough. It seems to aim to teach you the first steps into composition with simple still lives and simple landscapes by minding geomatrical shapes in tonal and colour distibution, but there's a lot of things this book leaves out, for example how to handle more complex scenes, how having people in your painting influences the viewer's perception, how to support a narrative or mood with your composition. And from some of the topics that do appear in the book, I'm missing some aspects as well – for example when the author talks about overlapping, it would have been a good opportunity to talk about tangents and the unfortunate kind of overlapping, too. Narrowing down is a valid way to indroduce a complex subject, I suppose, but I didn't expect these limitations from the book title and cover and would have looked for a different book if I had known. Same goes for the focus on oil painting: while the medium doesn't matter as long as you're talking about the theory of composition, the book has a lot of detailed painting instructions, some of which don't translate well to non-opaque paint.
On the other hand, the book contains basic general painting advice that I would't have expected in a book on composition, for example the basics of drawing, basic colour theory, brushwork, mostly without talking about how these influence composition specifically. How some colours attract our eyes more than others, how to vary the brushwork within the same painting to support your composition etc.
Furthermore, I remain skeptical about some of the claims the author makes, and for various reasons, the author failed to earn my trust. For example, he talks about preferring straight lines in a painting because curved lines seem too detached and floating. He presents two sketches of roads as proof, one straight road and one curved road where we are supposed to prefer the straight road. First of all that seems to condratict earlier examples of curved roads and other S-shapde armatures, second, he has drawn the straight road with proper perspective and shading and the curved road without, so of course the straight road is going to look more real and anchored.
Another bit would be how the book seems to operate under the assumption then the viewer's gaze enters the painting from the bottom border. The author never outright states this assumption nor explains why he makes it. It's not the way I look at images at all. Where does this come from? Interestingly, some of the arrangements of objects at the bottom edge he derives from this rule I argree with, although I would use a different explanation to get there.
Even so, I do think there is valuable information in this book, although some of that gets rehashed for pages and pages without adding anything new. The part of the book I really liked were the bits where the author compares images and slight variations of them and the effect on the composition.
Overall, the book was not worth it for me.