Homeostatic conditions. Homeostasis means equidistant lineups of trees, rocks, blocks of colour, or other patterns that are too mechanical or regular. "Even in front of nature one must compose," said Edgar Degas.
Amorphous design. The general design lacks conviction. A woolly, lopsided or wandering pattern makes for a weak one. Often, the work has unresolved areas and lacks cohesiveness and unity.
Lack of flow. Rather than circulating the eye from one delight to another, the work blocks, peters out and invites you to look somewhere else. "Composition," said Robert Henri, "is controlling the eye of the observer." Effective compositions often contain planned activation (spots like stepping stones that take you around), and serpentinity (curves that beguile and take you in.)
Too much going on. Overly busy works tire the eye, induce boredom and make it difficult to find a centre of interest or focus. Less is often more.
Defeated by size. Effective small paintings often work well because they are simple and limited in scope. But when artists make larger paintings they often lose control of the basic idea and what is ironically called "the big picture." "The larger the area to be painted," says Alfred Muma, "the harder it is to have a good composition."