“Some of the dullest pictures in the world are done by painters who dutifully observe the rules
“… some of the most interesting have come from artists who … took risks, who daringly tried out concepts and techniques just to see if they might possibly work despite rules.”
— Edward Betts, Creative Seascape Painting, page 46
Know what the rules of painting and drawing are, aim to break them deliberately not inadvertently, and take the time to decide whether it enhances or detracts. All too often it’s how you break the rule, not the mere breaking of it that will determine its success or failure.
Take “though shalt not place a horizon line at the midpoint as it divides a composition in half”. To me, in this painting it doesn’t:
I think it doesn’t because of the echo between the band of rocky shore and the band of islands, the band of sea and the band of sky. The upper half is divided roughly one third islands two thirds sky, while the lower half can be divided in two (counting the rocks and spray as one) or three (sea, spray, rocks). I feel the wider band of sky dominates and distracts the eye from the halfway horizon. I think the proportions of the canvas, so wide to the height, also help as it’s not easy to see both side edges simultaneously (well, in real life, not a small photo!).
Did I do it deliberately? I don’t know, I don’t recall. I only know it’s not where I typically place the horizon. Maybe it’s time I did it again.