Drawing & Composition


Identifying your motif will bring clarity to your initial design and to the long-term development of your painting.

6min 51sec

Motif is way of stating the intent of your painting. To find your motif, name the main character and write that name in your journal.

Your motif / main character will often occupy the majority of space in your painting.

In landscape, motif is often about:

  • Distance (foreground, mid ground, background)
  • Plane (sky, slanted, upright, ground)
  • Prominent features (rock, tree, etc)
  • Pattern and connectivity

Brainstorm your motif and write down multiple names for the main character. Pick the word that best describes your intent.

Your intention (i.e., motif) can simply be to get to know a scene and develop a gestural understanding.

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