Monday, April 9, 2012


If  it is in motion, it is asymmetric. Time. Space. Number. Pattern.  Balance is the element of art often described as symmetry, and the lack thereof is described as asymmetry.  This unbalance is what sets things in motion, and is a fundamental tool the artist uses to bring two dimensional pictures to life.

Pleasing your artistic sense when creating an unbalanced composition is not a very straightforward skill.  What may please you is open to interpretation. It is a test of your own ability to observe your compositions, and to be self-critical.

Ghost Riders
6.75" x 9.75"
Casey Klahn

One example of asymmetric choices is the radical imbalance in Ghost Riders, seen above, caused by placing the two trees fully in the left half of the visual space. I reconciled this asymmetric "insult" to my senses by creating a heavy preponderance of balances.  The colors are orange, violet, and green, which are an even tripod of secondaries.  Add blue to even the number of dominant hues. 

The number of trees is two, which is an even number.  The "z" pattern of foreground shapes makes use of the mirror-image that results from cutting a "z" down the vertical axis.  The trees are each as wide as the intermediate space between them.  See how unrelenting balance can harmonize the heavy imbalance caused by the trees being to one side?

Asymmetry is closely related to the element of space. In the post on space I discuss asymmetry in other ways, such as an imbalance in the size of space versus negative space.

Asymmetry is indicative of organic shapes and objects, and will be your most frequent choice for compositional arrangements.  Learn to understand what pleases you when organizing your picture space, and your viewers will be pleased, too.

An impressive example of information asymmetry occurred when a buyer, Mr. Zack Bodish, acquired a signed artist's proof by Picasso for $14 from a thrift store.  He knew the value, and the seller did not!

No comments: