The directional thrust of a square painting is challenging, so today we’ll look at how to make an asymmetrical composition in a square piece. You’re welcome to work from life, if that helps you, or find a photo that you can recompose into a square composition.
What is asymmetry? The 'a' at the beginning means 'not', thus asymmetry is not symmetrical. Symmetrical means balanced, a mirror image that is identical on each side, thus asymmetrical literally means "not balanced", but in art terms it indicates a composition that has achieved balance without using identical elements on each side.
The easiest picture is the see-saw.
Just as the larger person on the see-saw has to move closer to the center to achieve balance, so in composing you find that larger and smaller elements must be arranged carefully to achieve that same balance. Often the larger elements need to move nearer the center, too--but there is no formula!
What I want us to play with at this class is the idea of using some simple elements in the square format to achieve a balanced composition that's interesting. This requires you to do some planning. Look over these paintings and choose the ones you feel are most balanced, asking yourself why you think they work or don't work. Are any of them symmetrical? Any asymmetrical? In other words, do you sense the balance, despite the fact that the composition is not equal top and bottom, or side to side? Which ones have rhythm, yet keep your eye from going off the page anywhere?
Now here they are in grayscale reduced to poster shapes. Analyze the simple shapes, their relative size and what you think is effective from the standpoint of the underlying abstraction.
In class we'll discuss the compositional elements, their weight, balance and movement, exploring what is working and why, plus you'll carefully compose from life or recompose your photos.
One other tool you might like to have is this grid. Feel free to copy and print it out, or take a square piece of paper and fold it in thirds, then in half both ways, and from corner to corner both ways. This grid will give you some key intersections to pay attention to as you compose.
- A square sheet to paint on, perhaps more than one, if you want to experiment. Any color is fine.
- Find some objects, if you enjoy painting from life, or bring a photo or photos that you can compose into a square format, if not square already. Recomposing will be part of what we explore.
- The grid.
- Last week's painting.
See you at class on Thursday.