Not too long ago I was given a link to another art website where someone was going on about
the rules for composition.
How’s that again? This person had 20 or so rules to avoid for bad composition. There is only one rule of composition-
You emphasize the center of interest and deemphasize the rest of the painting so as not compete with it.
Achieving that goal has no set boundaries. There is no rule about placing the elements of your painting. Rules about leading from the corner or avoiding the center of the canvas are developed by people who have no understanding of painting. They are lazy truisms by lazy painters; just like don't use black or the color blue always recedes rule or the term muddy color.
If your eye goes to a corner when you don't want it to, it’s because you haven't got a strong enough focal point, not because you have a lead in at the corner.
Sayings like, don't put something in the corner or in the center or don't divide your canvas in half, can't be rules because they can't know how the elements of the painting are organized for every possible painting.
To prove my point every painting I’ve posted goes against the truisms you hear repeated in bad art classes by incompetent teachers. Dividing the canvas in half, placing the subject in the center of the canvas, Starting a lead in with the corner, the use of black paint and don’t have vertical shapes too close to the edge of the canvas. All of these paintings are better than any of the paintings by the people handing out the advice.