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Did you know a painting is like a recipe?  
Just as in a recipe there are ingredients you mix together, like eggs and flour and salt, a painting has its own elements you mix together.  Here is a list of easy to understand elements you use in every painting.
DOT  The most basic element of design
LINE  A series of dots joined together
SHAPE  The space enclosed by lines
FORM  When shape is perceived as having depth
TONE/VALUE The lightness and darkness in relation to what is around it.
TEXTURE The character of the surface of a shape or form.
COLOR  Adds impact or interest. 
These elements make up a painting. The use of them is governed by principles and determines how interesting or satisfying your painting is.  Will the viewer linger over your painting or just walk on by?  Good use of the principles of design will encourage the viewer to linger in the same way good mixing and blending and sifting and folding ingredients in a recipe contribute a baked good's yumminess.
These principles have been simplified to 6.  They are:
BALANCE  This applies to every element.  Balance can be symmetrical or asymmetrical, formal or informal.  Example: If your focal point is on the top left "sweet spot", there needs to be something in the lower right to balance it.
UNITY If a color or shape or form is in one part of your painting it aught to show up in other areas.  If you cut your painting in half or quarters does each part need the other?
REPETITION AND VARIATION  All seven elements can be repeated.  It is best to repeat them with variation.  
DOMINANCE   It is the main principle of the painting.  Focal point is part of this principle.
CONTRAST  This applies to every element. Contrasting the elements adds life and interest to the painting.
GRADATION  Subtle changes in color, value, or temperature improve every painting.

Analyzing your paintings through the lens of the principles of design will improve your skill and help you be a more intentional, more satisfied painter.  Stay tuned for examples.  

Feel free to email your paintings to for a close but friendly look at your work through the lens of these compositional principles of design.  Emailing them gives permission for them to be posted here.
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