The first composition is a simple Horizontal Design. Where the sky meets land is where the most contrast is. So all the attention and focus goes there first.
I start out with only 3 values - black, middle grey and white. Then...
*Tone the surface with the midtown grey
*Next, determine the horizontal edge. Make a high horizon line for a painting of the land or a low or a low horizon line for a painting of the sky.
I prefer a large brush to put in the basic shapes. Remember, no details yet - just three values at first in black, grey and white.
The second composition is referred to as Tunnel Vision. The focal area is usually at the point with the most contrast. All drawing lines can also lead to that point. The painting will have the effect of looking through a tunnel - the end being the focal point.
As before, start with only three values - black, middle grey and white. Tone the surface with the midtone grey. Next. determine the focal point (the whitest spot) - and finally, brush in the black composition and design, using a large brush.
The third composition we refer to as Off Balance. This composition shows "a lot of something" in one area and "just a little something" away from everything else. This focal point stands alone, drawing attention with not much else around! This design is also called "Cantilever".
As before, using only black, grey and white paint, I start by first toning the entire surface with a midtown grey. Next, with black paint, I "rough in" the composition design - and then the final focal point of white... all by itself. I prefer a large brush to put in the basic shapes. Remember, no details yet - just three values at first in black, grey and white.
The fourth composition is the Golden Section. This classic design finds the "sweet spot" (focal point) and has been used since early history. Without getting into the math of how this works, try my easy approach. Divide the painting surface into thirds along the top and the side. This will create a grid that looks like a tic-tic-toe sketch. Where the lines intersect - choose only one of those spots for your focal point. This is also known as the center of interest.
Next, tone the surface with the midtone grey. After deciding which will be the "sweet spot/focal point" sketch loosely with black paint, keeping your eye on the focal area.
There you have it! My four compositional designs in a landscape painting using only black, grey and white.
Remember, when the going gets rough and out of control, a good strong design composition can pull the painting back together. Keep it simple.