1. How have I handle the foreground? Is it weak ?
Weak foreground. The foreground appears as an afterthought. Wishy-washy, unresolved or inconsequential--it fails to set the subject onto a reasonable ground or to lead the eye to what the artist would have us see. Even in abstract or mystical work, a foreground needs to be implied and understood as a vital contributor to the whole.
2. Is there variety?
Homeostatic conditions are boring.
Homeostasis means equidistant lineups of trees, rocks, blocks of colour, or other patterns that are too mechanical or regular.It's rare to find neat and ordrly arrangements of elements in nature.Just think of the difference between a natural forest, where trees are ween a natural forest, where the trees grow any which way, and a plantation, where the trees are planted in evenly spaced rows.
Varying the space between the elements in your composition, the angles they lie at, and their sizes makes a painting more interesting. It includes trees growing out of the tops of people's heads. While sometimes seen in nature, homeostasis is a natural human tendency--a subconscious reordering and regularizing within the brain. "Even in front of nature one must compose," said Edgar Degas.
3. Does the general design lacks conviction. A woolly, lopsided or wandering pattern makes for a weak one. Often, the work has unresolved areas and lacks cohesiveness and unity.
"Everything that is placed within the enclosing borders of the picture rectangle relates in some way to everything else that is already there. Some attribute must be shared between all of them." (Ted Smuskiewicz)
4. Is there a lack of flow.
Your eyes should be direct thorough you work. Rather than circulating the eye from one delight to another, the work blocks, peters out and invites you to look somewhere else. "Composition," said Robert Henri, "is controlling the eye of the observer."
Effective compositions often contain planned activation (spots like stepping stones that take you around), and serpentine (curves that beguile and take you in.) make sure your eyes stays within the painting.
5.Too much going on.Simplify, simplify, oh yes and simplify. Overly busy works tire the eye, induce boredom and make it difficult to find a centre of interest or focus. Less is often more.If the painting is not working do not add anything; "Take something out," said the American painter and illustrator Harvey Dunn.
Remember gray is a good place for the eye to rest.
6. Is the size right ? Effective small paintings often work well because they are simple and limited in scope. I know some of my small daily paintings just don't work on a large scale. But when artists make larger paintings they often lose control of the basic idea and want to fill the space making the painting overworked and busy.The larger the area to be painted the harder it is to have a good composition.
This last one makes me nervous as I start one of the larges oil painting that I have ever done 4 feet by 8 feet, lets hope I member all of the above points as I paint. Because that is going to be a ton of painting. I have been working on ideas, small sketches. Will they translate well into large work?