The Beauty of Composition

Class Includes Lifetime Access to Videos, Instructor Feedback, Online Community & More!

6 Lessons – $85.00

Composition is a beautiful thing in and of itself. In this class Anita presents the concepts of design in a fresh and exciting way, not as a set of rules but as an elegant language. Students will work with a fun variety of media and techniques.

TEACHER: Anita Lehmann

Class Description

The Beauty of Composition

Plato wrote, “It is beauty I seek, not beautiful things,” and a strong composition is the underlying beauty of every successful drawing or painting!

Composition is not a set of rules we must follow, but an elegant “language” in which to communicate. Anita calls composition her “best friend” that sits beside her through all her work. Rather than restrict freedom, compositional principles can give you more confidence, making for freer, stronger work.

In this class Anita gives us a bunch of great exercises to introduce and/or reinforce the concepts of balance, rhythm, emphasis, repetition, positive/negative space, quiet corners, foundational grids, and more. You will work in a variety of drawing and painting media including ink, charcoal, pencil, watercolor and pastel.


Some samples of artwork Anita produced for this class:

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Lesson 5

Lesson 6


Class Itinerary

Lesson 1 – Musical Response and the Four Felt Forces
We’ll start with a mark-making response to music as a warm up, then create several studies each of the following “felt” compositional forces: Repetition, Rhythm, Emphasis, and Balance.

Lesson 2 – Foundational Grids
In this Lesson we will introduce foundational grids Intervals and the Rule of Thirds and complete two exercises: one in collage and one in ink.

Lesson 3 – Torn Paper Compositions
Sometimes collage is the fastest way to understand compositional concepts; we’ll work quickly to create numerous temporary compositions, adding the 80/20 “rule” to the mix.

Lesson 4 – Cropping
In this lesson we will take a simple subject — a chicken — and compose her in various formats, keeping in mind beautiful Positive/Negative Shapes and a Quiet Corner.

Lesson 5 – Interior Still Life Space
Today we’ll take a more complicated subject — a room interior — and break the shapes down into Foreground, Middle Ground, Background Shapes. Then we’ll do a charcoal rendering, adding the Editing component to the process.

Lesson 6 – Final Still Life
We’ll start with a quick analysis of a master painting by Winslow Homer, then do the same process with our own composed still life. Our final assignment is to complete detailed working drawing and then finish with a final drawing, painting or collage of your still life.

Anita Lehmann is a registered architect in the state of Washington. She is also a teacher and an artist. After receiving training at the University of Washington, she taught freehand drawing in Rome and in Seattle, and currently offers small group classes in drawing and painting. Her other skills include architectural design, graphic design, community planning and design illustration. Using figures as disparate as bugs and urban monuments, Anita has designed several series of alphabets, which have been acquired by the Smithsonian Institution. Prior to receiving the 2013 NAIUSI fellowship, Anita was a graduate student at the University of Washington Rome Center, in Rome, Italy in 1985. See more of her work at


• Sketchbook: spiral bound or favorite paper, minimum 9″ x 12″

• Medium-size drawing and painting paper: bristol or Saunders watercolor paper, 140# or equiv.

• Pencils: HB, 2B

• Pencil Sharpener: good quality

• Erasers: White Stadler Mars, Kneaded

• Charcoal: Generals Compressed is best: 2b, 4b

• Sticks

• Sumi Ink

• Watercolor Brushes: round, 1” – 2” flat, not too small to work with water-based media

angled brush optional

• Artist Tape: ‘Post it’ Tape or Masking Tape

• framing L’s made from mat board, clips

• Watercolors

• Pastels: soft pastel (recommend PanPastels and applicators and/or Diane Townsend Artist’s Pastels)

Nuts & Bolts

• This class is now available as a self-study class.

• Immediately upon class signup, you will receive access to the class videos and corresponding materials.

• A private Facebook group will be available for you to (optionally) share your artwork and enjoy and learn from the artwork of others. You may also email your teacher directly with questions or feedback.

• You will have indefinite access to this class.

“What a great workshop with Anita… such excellent explanations of design, value, contrast, etc., which she pares down to the essential. Her examples are beautiful. You are having such wonderful choices and so glad to be able to partake. Thank you.” — Lorraine D.
“Excellent, inspiring course, Anita! Beautiful works—thank you so very much!” — Valrie J.
“Thank you so much for this course. A true game changer for me.” — Nicky B.