Sunday, July 11, 2010

Book Review: The Simple Secret to Better Painting by Greg Albert

Last month when Greg Albert spoke at the GCWS Meeting he offered the opportunity to buy a few of his books. I chose The Simple Secret to Better Painting: How to Immediately Improve your Art with This One Rule of Composition.

In this book Mr Albert claims that you can improve your art with his one rule of composition. He states that his "goal is to make pictorial composition simple to understand, remember and apply."

Mr. Albert said that he came up with this concept from his experience as a teacher. While teaching the Principles of Design (unity, variety, harmony, contrast) and applying them to the Elements of Composition (line, shape, color) he found that the students often were frustrated in remembering and achieving them in their work. Mr. Albert explained that the theories worked for analyzing what went wrong after the art was completed better then
helping them complete the work correctly. He created this
One Rule of Composition to help avoid mistakes.

Mr. Albert claims that if you remember and apply his rule along with the formulas of The Rule of Thirds and Mostly, Some and a Bit, it will help you make better composition choices for your paintings. In the formula, The Rule of Thirds, you divide your picture into thirds vertically and horizontally. The intersections of these divisions create the best locations to place your center of interest in your picture. Mr. Albert reminds us not to give into the urge to put your center of interest in the direct center. He shows how that ends up being a boring placement.

When Mr. Albert talks about color variety he refers to the formula, Mostly, Some and a Bit. By this he means, "that you could use mostly one hue or family of analogous colors, with some of another color and just a bit of a third contrasting color...... To make your painting pleasing, you need to vary the quantities of warm and cool colors, so they are not equal......., the colors should be mostly of one temperature, some of the other and a bit of contrast."

I found this book to be helpful, not only in reminding me of the design principals, but a fresh way to look at how I create a painting. The book gives many examples of these design formulas and how it simplifies the Principals of Design. Mr. Albert talks about using variety, placement and leading the eye through a painting to achieve an exciting and pleasing composition. He shows how it applies to painting a still life, landscape, figures and portraits to create a more interesting painting.

It is a quick read. Teachers, if you adopt Mr. Albert's Rule of Composition, along with the Rule of Thirds and Mostly, Some and a Bit, it will make teaching composition so much simpler.  If I had read this book while I was in college, it would have made my design class a lot easier to grasp. I will post these formulas in my studio (per Mr. Albert's suggestion) for quick reference.

As for his have to read the book :-)


1 comment:

debwardart said...

I, too, enjoyed Greg's talk at the GCWS meeting - and I've got his book! There is always so much to learn (and not enough time).

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