How can composition in general — and compositional geometry in particular — help artists express universal human ideas and feelings in specific pictorial scenes?

In the case of one of Jean-Léon Gérôme’s paintings, titled The Duel After the Masquerade, I immediately feel a profound sadness in looking at the cold winter scene that the artist has staged. I’m convinced that my emotional response is heightened by the underlying compositional geometry that Gérôme used, as shown in the five images below. Click on the images below, and enlarge to read each of the slide comments.

How can we, as artists, develop our compositional skills in a way that will allow us to become better storytellers?