Here's a quick overview of mostly Edgar Payne's compositions that I can use for a quick reference. As I discuss them, explore them, learn from them, and make my own discoveries, I can refer to the pen and ink sketches in future posts as I try them out. It might help other artists too.
The S or Compound Curve
This is one of the most common forms found and used by many artists. For me, it is a challenge to not use it until I learn some of the other designs first.
The diagonal can go from lower left to upper right, or from upper left to lower right.
The L or elle, is turning out to be one of my favorite designs. Like the other designs, the L shape can occur at any angle, upside downs, sideways, etc. The important thing is that the elle, I've learned, is just the way to break up the space.
Again, the orientation can be in any direction
Triangle or Pyramid
The pyramid or triangle has been a staple of still life painters for ages. It is also something that is adapted to many genres, including landscapes.
The Steelyard or Counter Balance
There are two versions of this, the Steelyard and the inverted Steelyard. Payne found these in many master's paintings and then used them in his own works. I find this one challenging because its elements can be arranged in so many subtle ways. The pivot can move about, be a different value, etc.
Just identifying this one isn't enough, I have to still figure out what the right balance of the elements need to be.
There are many more designs and some more that Payne identified -- the three spot, scattered masses, large group mass, patterned small grouped masses, to name a few.