Our model today was Dalana Miller. In my demonstration I showed you three different artists: Fuseli, Degas and Harry Carmean. The books I had were mostly rough sketches and studies. I wanted to show you how these artists address composition even in sketches and studies.
It is common for artists in a figure drawing class to disregard the composition of their drawings. Focus is primarily on proportions, anatomy, likeness, form and line. It is easy to overlook how the figure relates to the over-all format of the paper the drawing is on and the relationship between positive and negative space.
Poor composition makes a poor drawing. I showed you three different artists who I feel were always very aware of composition but addressed it in very different ways. Fuseli's drawings are the most developed of the three. He draws a lot of the environment surrounding the figures. Degas drawings are primarily focused on the figure but he also gives some indication of the context the figure exists in. Harry Carmean gives very little information in the negative space of his drawings - a line or a scuffle but nothing very recognizable.
No matter the level of detail or amount of information given in the negative space of each artists drawings, all three were very conscious of how they composed (arranged) the figure on the paper. They were aware of how the figure was positioned with in the format of the drawing and in relation to other elements (including empty negative space) in the composition.
I am not suggesting that you need to spend as much time drawing the space around the figure. We have a limited time to draw with each pose and we are there primarily to draw the figure, however I do expect you to always show evidence that you are attempting good composition. It doesn't take much extra time or effort as much as it requires simple awareness and intention.