In last month’s watercolor class, my teacher focused on composition. She had planned to show a video by Ian Roberts, but the DVD player didn’t work. She talked about him so enthusiastically that I decided to purchase his new book, Mastering Composition.
I tend to skim through the many art books I buy, just stopping at the pages that interest me. But once I started reading this book, I read all the way through without putting it down. Robert's clear and concise explanations of design principles were excellent. There's a lot of information about the role of color in a composition and excellent color illustrations showing how small changes in color intensity affect a painting. I also liked the section titled "Learn from student work." The artist shows the original student work and then a photo of the painting after flaws have been adjusted.
In one chapter readers are encouraged to commit to a 4 x 5 pencil “composition a day” as a way to master the ability to think in terms of shapes and masses rather than subjects. (It's that "practice makes perfect" concept...)
The book also includes a DVD, although I could not get the sound to work on my Mac, despite setting my volume control to the highest level on my computer and on the DVD controls.
This is one of the best instructional art books I have encountered and I highly recommend it. I know it's going to become a much-used reference book in my household. You can "search" through the book on Amazon, if you're interested.