How To Design a Painting

September 12, 2017

This is a Keynote presentation given on September 15, 2017 at the Plein Air Utah Event in Midway, UT. (


The subject of the presentation is DESIGN.

I discussed some basic principles of how to compose a well designed painting.


I am currently producing an online art course that will teach these concepts in much more detail. If you wish to be notified about free content and updates, click here.


Thank you.



P.S. Here is a link to an article about the event from Outdoor Painter Magazine.









This division of the rectangle shape is not interesting because there is no variety of shape.


This division is more interesting to the mind because of the variety.


 This division divides the rectangle vertically and horizontally.


 These divisions lead to the Rule of Thirds.


 Placing points of interest on these intersections is a good place to start


This is a diagram of the Golden Mean.

 The introduction of curves add further variety to these 4 shapes.


 Let's look at designing with value masses. This design has no variety of shape but it does have variety of value.


This design has variety of shape and value.


 Even more variety.



What do you see first?

 The shapes of this design lead you to the focal point.





Original scene.

 This composition features the tree. The design does not require much adjustment from the actual scene.


This design of the same scene features the mountain. 


 This design or composition features the foreground sagebrush.



This design is adjusted to emphasize variety of shape and value.








Doug Fryer 


David Sharpe










Jamie Jones




John Alexander





Christopher Blossom








 Kurt Hanson













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