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Composition and Aquascaping (was focus)

As an amateur landscape painter I feel compelled to add my two cents to the
thread on focus and aquascaping. There is much more to an effective
composition than creating a focal point.

For example, one of the things I try to do in my landscape compositions is
draw the viewer into my painting. To begin, I make it easy for the viewer's
eye to enter the composition. Once I have the viewer's eye, I want to keep
it moving around without leaving the composition. I create lines for the eye
to follow and use stops to keep it in the painting. I want to lead the
viewer around the composition to the focal point. If the focal point is too
strong, the eye is immediately draw to it and it's over. The viewer moves on
to the next painting.

Aquascaping is an art form and the same principles of composition that I
apply whenever I sit in front of a canvas can also be applied to
aquascaping. (I just realized this! Time to redo my tanks!) These principles
are not difficult to learn. I highly recommend that anyone interested in the
art of aquascaping pick up a book on artistic composition. My personal
favorite is Painting Better Landscapes by Margaret Kessler, but any decent
book on the subject will teach you concepts such as balance, artistic
grouping, depth, movement, speed, eye stops, and even creating and locating
a focal point.

Mark Stahlke
Colorado's premier grower of fine algaes