How can I improve my compositional skills?
The only way to do this is to practice, practice, practice. A pianist doesn’t improve her playing skills without putting in the hours of practice, likewise an artist doesn’t improve his skills without putting in the hours.
Design your own composition experiments (exercises, if you will) – with limitations. What you want to do is set up problems to solve.
Design each experiment/exercise to focus on a particular element (or elements), and have a clear idea of your intent before you begin to work.
Some ideas to get you started:
•Do a series of small pieces that feature a color that you don’t like or don’t usually use.
•Design compositions that are balanced but not symmetrical.
•Design compositions that are symmetrical but not boring.
•Design compositions using 1 image repeated 3 times.
• Composition with no straight lines
•1/4 white, 1/4 black, 1/2 grey
•black + white + 1 color
•Suggest a garden without rendering flowers
•1/2 realistic, 1/2 abstract
•The view out of each room in your house
•Fill a bag with small scraps of special papers, torn out magazine photos, wrapping paper, stamps, whatever.
Reach in (without looking) and pull out a piece of something. Use that as the focal point/content of your composition.
•1:3 format (2”X6”, 3”X9”, etc.)
If you really want to get serious, determine where your greatest weaknesses are (ie. drawing, color mixing, timidness) and design your experiments to target those issues specifically.
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”