Sometimes we just need someone to state the obvious!
I've just been reading a blog by Robert Genn about "pushing back" - keep your viewers eye in the painting. There are many theories about composition , some of them quite complicated. It turns out (according to Mr Genn, who is usually correct) that all you need to do to stop someones eye leaving your artwork early is to place obstacles in their way so that they are pushed back into the painting. Simple. A bit like fencing in stock (the kind with legs and horns , not Oxo Chicken/Beef).
As it turns out , I've been doing this unconsciously for years. I looked back at this painting of Makara Beach near Wellington and can see that I instinctively framed both sides of the view with cliffs. which means your eye travels around between the cliffs, checking out Mana Island then on down to the driftwood then slides back up the cliff again (I hope).
But I didn't realise that I was doing that - instead was probably stressing about placing focal points on Golden Means etc etc.
Thanks Mr G, for putting it into words. And maybe the makers of Oxo need to put the directions on the wrapper!
PS. The painting of Makara was done on an old piece of battered plywood which I found washed up on the beach there after a storm. And yes it's still for sale - complete with rough shattered edges where it crashed around on the rocks :)