The element of direction can have a powerful influence on the mood of a painting. It is something often overlooked, but making a conscience decision about the dominant direction in a painting can have a noticeable effect on the atmosphere of the work.

Sometimes the subject will dictate the dominant direction. Sometimes the subject will allow you to impose a direction on it.

In the paintings below the subject dictates the direction. The strong horizontal lines of the water, boats and buildings in the first example give a feeling of stillness and calm. In the second example, the diagonal lines of the shoreline and the rocks reinforce the feeling of movement. The third example has a dominant vertical direction which adds a static orderly influence to what might be a random chaotic painting.



In this subject it is possible to impose either a horizontal, vertical or oblique dominant direction. The drawings below show the effect of different treatments


A horizontal emphasis tends to make the buildings look sleek and clean and creates a fairly static atmosphere.

A diagonal dominance reinforces the chaotic nature of the subject

Emphasizing a vertical direction maintains the random chaos, but gives a solid formal feeling to the work


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