"One thing I found out is that photography and painting, while similar in some respects, are almost enemies when it comes to time and passion. It is almost impossible to "balance" the two so you continue to be active and learning in…"
"Welcome to Karen's site, Annette!
Composition is almost an art in itself. I find that most painting resources are weak in this area and treat it rather lightly. Some of the best books I have seen on the topic are photography…"
One thing I found out is that photography and painting, while similar in some respects, are almost enemies when it comes to time and passion. It is almost impossible to "balance" the two so you continue to be active and learning in both fields at the same time. I did find that my early interest in photography enhanced my ability to "see", but ended up going through periods where I was active almost exclusively in one activity or the other; one always took the backseat while the other dominated. While an asset in some ways, I'm sure it limited my long-term achievements in both fields. At this point I have determined to keep the photography in a secondary position and allow the painting to dominate. The cameras are still a lot of fun, but painting is where I have the most fun; the newer mediums and grounds provide so many opportunities for expression. A lot of the specialty films I liked are no longer available, and sitting at a computer manipulating images is simply not as satisfying for me as creating on a canvas or panel with acrylics.
Composition is almost an art in itself. I find that most painting resources are weak in this area and treat it rather lightly. Some of the best books I have seen on the topic are photography related rather than painting per se. You do not have the option of removing, moving, or adjusting most subjects before tripping the shutter, so there was a greater need to closely examine the scene before committing it to film. With the ability to manipulate digital images, current photo books are not as diligent; one can simply remove objects that are not wanted in the final image. This removes a lot of the incentive to lean basic composition principles in the first place. If you check out the local library, they probably have photography books with a wealth of information on composition. The bottom line however is that just like painting or riding a bicycle, you don't learn by just reading; it is a developed skill that improves with practice. Once familiar with the basics, it is easier to look at a subject, figure out the visual strengths and weaknesses, determine composition and values, select your center of interest, and away you go! It may sound daunting at first, but after a while it becomes almost second nature; you do it without really thinking about it. For most of us it just takes a while to get there! Don't be too rough on yourself, but try to improve one thing at a time, whether composition, colour mixing, values, or brushwork. When you are getting comfortable in that area, start concentrating on something else. Trying to improve all aspects at the same time can get frustrating as you never see or feel any great improvement anywhere.
Karen's demos are a great way to improve basic technique and give a lot of information in a non-threatening way. If you have not tried any of these, I would strongly suggest you give one or more a try.