I'm not talking about your great aunt's story about your second-cousin's-best-friend's-step-daughter's graduation from military academy that's somehow supposed to circle back to what we're having for dinner (though, who else can relate with these meandering family tales?).
When is comes to design and composition, tangents are places in your composition that have awkward tension between two elements. That tension draws us in subconsciously and steals our focus from the surrounding scenery.
Visually speaking, whether it is two elements that almost touch, but not quite, or part of the design touches the edge of the painting but doesn’t go over the edge, it creates an awkward tension. Like a train wreck, it's hard to look away.
I'll preface by saying tangents are easier to prevent than to fix. Rarely is all hope lost though. If your painting needs a major overhaul, I offer a simple fix to clear the slate.
Starting from the top, make yourself a checklist of elements that will set your composition up for success:
This is an awkward cropping of a painting where all of the umbrellas "kiss" the edge. Have them run off the edge of the painting, or give them more space before the edge. Below is a much stronger composition with less awkward tension.
Planning to avoid these mistakes will keep your painting free from tangents. Follow our blog for more tips on how to create a successful painting.
*Take a look at Caitlin's beautiful textile designs for more inspiration.
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