Composing Armatures



Composing Notes

Composing is one of my favorite parts of making art. One of the fun toys I use in composing is my armature exercises. Armatures are the structural lines or skeletons of a painting. They are most often referred to by sculptors who use real armatures to hold up their pieces, but I like to use them in a 2 dimensional way. Composing with armatures is a fun way to keep paintings fresh and interesting.

Composing Armatures - image  on

My illustration above gives you an idea of what I mean. I will make up armature compositions at the design table and try to figure out how I can use them in real paintings. it’s a fun exercise and a good way to think about composing.

Common armatures in paintings include:
1. S curve
2. L shape
3. Diagonal
4. Triangle
5. Radiating
6. Fulcrum
7. O
8. Portrait

I’ve tried all of them at one time or another in painting and they all work well depending on the scene I’m going to paint. One of the fun things I do for myself is to look at other paintings and try to figure out the armature in them. I spend a fair amount of time looking at landscape paintings.

Always interesting and insightful. It’s interesting to me that I see a lot of work I have no desire to do. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it, it just means I can admire it but not want to go in that direction. When I was a young painter, most of the work I looked at was better than mine and I wanted to emulate those painters. They were well known with a national reputation. I see a lot of copy cat painters on the Internet who want to be Carol Marine,Richard Schmid,Charles Sovek,  etc.,etc. Some are copied because they are masters, others because they have come up with a great gimmick and are making tons of sales.


When you mature and come into your own,finding your own muse makes you less desirous of being someone else.You learn to celebrate your own style with self confidence. You find out that it’s ok to be different, that some will even admire you for being different. I’ve been a lot happier since I learned to paint for me.

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Try using armatures, intervals, and directional cues to beef up your composing skills. Avoid those pesky tangents.  I find that doing these exercises helps me to compose. Whenever I start to do the same thing, I go to my design table and play with composing ideas to breath new life into my paintings.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

I love chili and I make it all the time. This is my lazy, easy chili recipe.

2 cups dried pinto beans

2 cups dried black beans

1 onion diced

1 carrot diced

1 can tomatoes

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp oregano dried

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 pound ground round

1 package taco seasoning mix

1 package chili seasoning

2 cans beef broth

salt and pepper to taste

I use a crock pot for this recipe.

rinse dried beans and put into the pot. Pour in the beef broth, tomatoes, seasonings. Put in fridge overnight. The next morning, add fried beef with carrots and onions to the pot. Add about 6 cups of water. Stir well and cook all day. I serve mine with sour cream, diced onion and fritos.

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