New Year, New Skill: 40% off Storewide with code NYNS22 >

How to Create Stunning Compositions: 3 Must-Watch Videos

Learn art composition techniques from the masters with these three videos featuring Liz Haywood-Sullivan, Ian Roberts, and Gordon MacKenzie.

Create the effect of lights on waves in Gordon MacKenzie’s “Watercolorist’s Essentials Workshop: Composition,” below.

Learn art composition techniques from the masters! Start things off with Liz Haywood-Sullivan‘s “Composition Secrets: How to Plan a Painting.” In this workshop, you’ll learn fundamental techniques for making great compositions from any reference image. Then, explore “Mastering Composition from Photos: Light & Shadow” with Ian Roberts. Here you’ll learn how to use light and shadow to make paintings with depth, light, and dimension. Finally, bring drama and energy to your compositions with Gordon MacKenzie’s “Watercolorist’s Essential Workshop: Composition.” Build your confidence with composition today!

1. Plan Your Painting

In “Composition Secrets: How to Plan a Painting,” Liz Haywood-Sullivan will teach you how to get the most interesting composition out of any reference image! With her four-step process, you’ll do the hard work up front, testing out multiple versions of the scene before committing to a final composition. From thumbnail sketching through finding waypoints, adding value, and scaling up the image to fit your surface, you’ll make corrections and discoveries along the way that will make the painting process easier and more enjoyable. Watch the preview above and then complete the entire video workshop to learn all her art composition techniques!

2. Master Light and Shadow

In “Mastering Composition from Photos: Light & Shadow,” Ian Roberts shows you how to use photographs to make dramatic interior paintings with lights and darks. You’ll learn his art composition techniques to breathe life into your paintings with dramatic light and shadow, mixing rich darks, portraying sunlight, and showing dimension. Watch the preview above for a peek inside shape-making and color-mixing techniques. Then watch the entire video workshop to learn how to transfer your photo to your painting surface. You’ll block in color shapes, add details, and more to enliven your lights and darks, creating stunning work every time. 

3. Create Compelling Landscapes

In “Watercolorist’s Essential Workshop: Composition,” Gordon MacKenzie shares his art composition techniques for enhancing the impact of your work. Nature is filled with patterns that can be used to compose a picture, from the radial design of the sun peeking out from behind a tree to the consistently varying curved lines that suggest wave movement. You’ll lift color from wet pigment to portray rays of light filtering through a forest and use a series of repeated, directional brushstrokes to emulate the seas. Watch the preview above and then complete the entire video workshop. You’ll be using composition to your advantage right away!

Not an Artists Network Member?

Become a Member and gain access to our extensive video catalogue and so much more!

Join the conversation!

Become a member today!

Choose an option below to join now.


Save 16.59% with our annual plan and get a FREE GIFT!

  • Videos: Stream 850+ instructional workshops, specially designed for every medium and skill level.
  • Exclusive events: Join live discussions and demos with today’s top artists!
  • Discounts: Unlock 30% off additional magazines + offers with our retail partners!
  • eBooks: Explore our library of how-to topics, tips, and techniques.
  • Magazines: Access Artists Magazine archives and new issues with a print subscription.
  • Newsletter: A weekly email featuring a selection of videos and more.
View Membership Benefits

*Membership cannot be purchased with Gift Cards or PayPal.