Every artist has their own style. From da Vinci to Degas, to Rembrandt to Renoir, you can easily identify their work. If you're a photographer interested in learning more about the art of photography, you might want to study the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alex Webb, Constantine Manos, Elliott Erwitt, or Vivian Maier. And while most would agree these well-known street photographers are masters of the same genre, their photos look nothing alike.
One should never disregard or minimize the importance of design in their art as a characteristic of personal "style." Nor should style be confused with pictorial structure. Style is highly personal whereas creating effective pictorial structure requires the knowledge and application of universal composition principles. Indeed, all master artists and photographers, of every period, have their own stylistic differences, yet they all follow the same respectable system of design - meaning Dynamic Symmetry and the armature of the rectangle. Not the Rule of Thirds.
Because the Rule of Thirds is the most widely acknowledged and accepted composition concept in mainstream art and photography, I address the rule in great detail throughout this website. However, my objective for writing about the Rule of Thirds is not to encourage its use, but rather to demonstrate unequivocally to the reader that master artists, highly skilled photographers, and advertisers don't apply it to their work. As Myron Barnstone once said, "To only know one little system like the Rule of Thirds and none of the other rich design procedures that artists have used is to be poverty-stricken." I couldn’t agree more. The Rule of Thirds is not design.
Design is a visual language that must be learned, mastered, and applied if an artist expects their work to mature fully. And even though Modern Art ideology doesn't encourage skill-based art training, by no means should the contemporary artist assume that classical art techniques, which are thousands of years old, are outdated or invalid. In truth, the Modern Art philosophies of "personal expression" and "creativity," which are so prevalent in today's culture, only have significance if one's "personal expression" is executed with a certain amount of artistic proficiency. Only then can an artist or photographer be truly creative.
Despite the many misguided and romanticized claims that some people are born with the "gift" of understanding composition, while others are not, I can state with absolute certainty that these claims are erroneous. Composition in art is not intuitive, and nobody is born with the ability to grasp all the principles of classical skill-based art. Master artists take great strides to develop sophisticated designs, and it's highly unlikely, if not impossible, that anyone can create artwork with geometric precision or visual mastery based on intuition alone.
With design being one of the least understood and lost skills in art today, learning the art of composition is more important than ever. The purpose of this website is to reintroduce those lost skills and help artists achieve the highest level of quality in their work. Whether you draw, paint, sculpt, or take photographs, understanding and applying effective design techniques to art is not a luxury - it's a necessity.
Photograph above taken at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD with a Leica M240