The study of composition for painters is a territory littered with rules. We are constantly told what to always do and, conversely, what to never do. "Make sure your paintings always have a center of interest". "Never put a vertical in the center of the page". "Always put the horizon one third or two thirds of the way up the page", "Never let a solid line run from one edge of the paper to the other".
...unless you want to.
How you choose to lay out the shapes in your pictures is potentially a very expressive feature of your work. The key is to make your choices deliberately. Be aware of what you tend to do regarding composition so that you use it to support your intentions.
It's a good idea, every once in a while, to pin up a few of your paintings and stand back to observe what you do deliberately and what you do automatically. I like to ask myself questions that focus my awareness. For example, looking at this crop of abstracts, I might ask, "Do the shapes touch the frame?"
Hmmmn, the majority of my shapes are touching the frame.
"Are the shapes parallel to the frame?" Yes! Very interesting.
"Are the corners of the page active?" Pretty much.
If I notice something in one painting that I especially like, or something I don't like, I can assess whether I tend to do that thing regularly. For example, I see in the last painting, above, that I put weight along the bottom edge, like a landscape, and put blue at the top. Are all my paintings really landscapes?
It seems to depend which way I look at them. This one, for example, looks very much like a landscape if I turn it 90 degrees. The green shape becomes a cloud when it's floating across the top of the painting.
You might wonder if any of this matters. I mean, so what if my abstract paintings reference the landscape?
For me, the point of this activity is to take charge of a major part of my own work. I want to reveal what may be obscured by being so close, and take advantage of what composition provides.
Try this for homework, and bring in a painting or two that you have seen with new eyes. Please take notes, so you can remember what was revealed.