How you divide the surface of your space
will make or break its visual impact.
What do the three following paintings have in common?
1. Jan Vermeer Johannes, was a Dutch painter in the 1600s who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life.
2. Piet Mondrian radically simplified the elements of his 1920s artwork to reflect ‘the order underlying the visible world’. He limited his palette to black, white, and the three primaries. He used asymmetrical balance of vertical and horizontal lines and shapes.
It is interesting to note that, despite the very different style of each of the paintings to the left, they are carefully rendered in terms of division of space.
It is quite challenging to create asymmetrical balance within a painting. Helpful in this regard are exercises such as the one shown below (and have been taught for decades). See if you can apply the concept of the exercise in the development of your designs.
Division of Space Exercise, based on Mondrian’s concept of using blocks.
Why do this exercise (many times):
• It trains you to see balance in patterns.
• It helps you learn to see asymmetrical balance.
• It will translate into better painting designs
• You will get a better feel for proportion, variation and use of positioning of blocks of space (patterns).
• You will learn how to create visual tension and/or calmness.
• You will learn to make rhythmic patterns plus orderly, pleasing division of space within your artwork, regardless of style or genre.
1. Tone an 11 x 14 or bigger sheet of paper evenly with charcoal.
2. Using straight vertical and horizontal lines, divide the paper into about 15 blocks, varied in size and proportion. Use your imagination.
3. Usng a kneadable eraser, wipe out three of the blocks. The goal is balance without symmetry (not equally spaced).
4. Choose three blocks and make them black.
5. Vary the values of the remaining blocks.
You can do variations on this theme, using angled and curved shapes, blobs and whatever, keeping in mind the purpose of asymmetrical balance.
Metamorphosis by Willi Baumeister.
This is a great example of negative space and postive form patterns and asymmetrical balance.
Asymmetry: lack of equality or equivalence between parts or aspects of something; lack of symmetry.