Thursday, March 29, 2012

Symmetry Versus Asymmetry - Make Your Choice

Contemporary western audiences are very used to seeing asymmetry, or unbalance, in fine art.  But, that isn't always the case, and artworks may succeed with either balance or the lack of balance.  I was delighted to see a Wolf Kahn oil recently, that illustrates balance and resolve.

Wolf Kahn put the tree right in the middle of the picture!  How does he resolve this visual "problem?"

This series of posts will consider the subjects of balance and unbalance, also known as symmetry and asymmetrySplit your image into two along the horizontal and the vertical axis. You should have quarters, or halves of each aspect, if you will. Now, consider every element of art by its distribution from side to side.  

There is also the overall distribution of elements. Ask yourself if you have an equal balance of color temperature. What about equivalent textural effects? I like to think of the three primary colors, or even the three secondaries, as creating a sense of balance when they are all three present in a painting.  Evaluate your  overall painting to determine if you have achieved your goals.

Contemporary artists usually gravitate towards asymmetry to portray tension, interest and "edginess" in their images.  However, symmetry can be used to establish hierarchical patterns and greater meanings, such as in sacred art.

Next Post:  Choose Symmetry.

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