John Frederick Kensett, Eatons Neck, courtesy of artrenewal.org
Here is a famous painting that contains, in my opinion, a beak. It may be the ultimate beak painting. I suppose it works, Kensett has kept the gap to the left of the beak structure broad and that allows the eye passage around it, but the painting still makes me uncomfortable. Notice that the tip of the beak falls exactly halfway across the painting.
There is a stillness and hushed magic to this painting, probably because of the simplicity of the sky and water that make it interesting and full of feeling. But again I wish it weren't so beaky.
There is an old rule of thumb that suggests never to place anything dead in the center of a painting. However bring something up to the center works rather well and artist do it frequently. Perhaps had this beak crossed that center line it would not have worked. There may be something to keeping it to one side of the middle. So here is perhaps another solution to the beak problem.
The painting is in a format called a double square. That is, it is twice as long as it is high. This is an interesting format, good for fields and oceans and places with a broad view and a low horizon.The squarer a picture is the more likely it is to feel intimate, interiors are good in square formats.the more elongated it becomes the more sublime or suitable to the expression of great distance.There are of course lots of exceptions to this and in fact the whole design thing is full of exceptions. That is why they are not rules, but principles or suggestions. That is why it is important to be able to appraise whether a design is working in your particular situation, rather than just plugging a design template in and believing your job is done. Nothing in design works all of the time and there are great paintings that seem like they shouldn't work but do.
I don't like calling design ideas rules, maybe secrets or principles or serving suggestions, but not rules. Still a knowledge of design helps to make the world paintable. At the root of the whole design thing is simplification. Begin by simplifying and work outward from there.