The Principles of Design Balance, Economy, Dominance, Proportion, Movement, Harmony, Variety The concepts that are used to organize the elements of art 0
" The task of artists is to organize elements into a comprehensible whole by simplifying, organizing, and unifying ." - Kenneth Bates
The goal in art and design.
The state of oneness or wholeness.
A work of art achieves unity when its parts seem necessary to the composition or form.
Design or Composition
Design or composition (2D) is the process of organizing the visual elements to effect a desired aesthetic on a work of art.
When artists create compositions they consciously or unconsciously draw upon the design principles.
Sometimes they may choose to consciously violate a principle for a desired effect.
The equalization of weight, attention, and the various art elements in an image or design
LEONARDO DA VINCI. Proportion of the Human Figure (after Vitruvius) (c. 1485–1490) Pen and ink. 13 ” x 10”
Actual and Pictorial Balance
Actual Balance means that a work of three-dimensional (3D) art is literally balanced. (It can stand or hang upright on its own.)
Pictorial Balance refers to the distribution of the apparent or visual weight of the elements in two-dimensional (2D) works.
POLYKLEITOS. Spear Bearer ( Doryphoros ) (c. 450–440 BCE). Roman copy after bronze Greek original. Marble. 6 ’ 6 ” The Weight-shift (Contrapposto) asymmetrical, naturalistic, relaxed stance.
DEBORAH BUTTERFIELD. Verde (1990). Found steel. 79 ” x 108 ” x 31 ”
Symmetry - a similarity of form or arrangement on either side of a central axis line.
Bilateral symmetry (pure or formal symmetry) -everything in a composition on either side of an actual or imaginary axis is the exactly same.
Approximate symmetry (informal symmetry) - the whole of the work has a feeling of symmetry although it is not exactly the same.
The United States Capitol Building, Washington, DC. Formal or Bilateral Symmetry
When the right and left sides of a composition bear visibly different shapes, colors, textures, or other elements, and yet they are arranged or “weighted” in such a way that the work feels balanced.
VAN GOGH . Starry Night (c. 1890 ) oil on canvas
Horizontal, Vertical, and Diagonal Balance
Horizontal balance - elements on either side of a vertical axis in the composition seem to be about equal.
Vertical balance - the elements at the top and bottom of the composition are in balance.
Diagonal balance -the elements on either side of a diagonal line dividing the composition are visually equal.
CHUCK CLOSE. Lucas II (1987). Oil on canvas. 36 ” x 30 ”
Radial balance - design elements radiate from a center point. (Frequently used in ceramics, jewelry, basketry, stained glass, and other crafts.)
ALI MUHAMMAD KASHIGAR ISFAHANI. Iranian tabletop (1887). Nine separate tiles. Table diament, 136 cm.
Can create shock and discomfort.
Can be used to capture a sense of movement.
ROBERT CAPA. Death of a Loyalist Soldier (September 5, 1936). Gelatin silver print.
Harmony is a quality of compatibility and agreement in a composition.
Types of Harmony
Visual Harmony - Artwork that is unified by color, shape, composition or some other visual design principle.
Conceptual Harmony - artwork that has a common theme or concept throughout it.
Conceptual Unity EMMA AMOS. Measuring Measuring (1995). Acrylic on linen , African fabric, laser-transfer photographs. 84 ” x 70 ”
Ways to Achieve Visual Harmony
Keeping aspects of the work constant
ANDY WARHOL. Ethel Scull Thirty-Six Times (1963). Synthetic polymer paint silkscreen on canvas. 79” x 143 “ Variety within Harmony
Variety is a quality of diversion, disunity, or tension in a composition.
ARCHIBALD J. MOTLEY JR. Saturday Night (1935). Oil on canvas Variety
Emphasis on Variety
When artists emphasize variety, they are
exaggerating differences rather than similarities.
Some feature of a work normally will capture the viewer’s attention.
Artist’s use emphasis to focus the viewer’s attention.
Focal point, Center of interest
Piero della Francesca, Madonna of Mercy (center panel of triptych), 1445–55. Oil and tempera on wood,
Poteet Victory. Symbols of Manifest Destiny (1999). oil and mixed media on canvas. 60” x 40” Isolation
How to create a focal point:
Accentuate certain shapes
Intensify color or contrast
Use directional line
Strategically place objects and images.
Isolate an object or subject
EMPHASIS Rembrandt Anatomy Lesson oil on canvas
EMPHASIS GOYA Third of May, 1808 oil on canvas
PABLO PICASSO. Family of Saltimbanques (1905). Oil on Canvas. 83” x 90” Isolation
EDGAR DEGAS. Woman Leaning near a Vase of Flowers (1865). Oil on canvas. 29 ” x 36 1⁄2 ”
OSKAR SCHLEMMER. Bauhaus Stairway (1932). Oil on canvas. 63 7⁄8 ” x 45 ” . Use of color and directional lines to create emphasis and movement
Movement : paths that the eye follows in viewing a composition.
Rhythm or Regular Repetition - orderly progressions.
Rhythm is found in music, nature, architecture, and art.
Rhythm can move a viewer visually.
Repetitive pattern can be used to lead the eye over the landscape of the work.
Principles of Design > Harmony > PATTERN The systematic repetition of a motif. Motif is an element or a combination of elements that is repeated to create a pattern. There is power in pattern and impact in the variation on that pattern.
Pattern in Nature
Proportion refers to the ‘rightness’ of the size of the parts in a total work.
Figurative sculpture involves the head, hands, and feet in proportion to the rest of the body.
Sometimes the artist will choose to make pieces disproportionate on purpose to achieve a desired effect.
In any composition, the relationship between the parts to each other and the whole.
Means of creating pleasing proportions:
The Canon of Proportions
The Golden Rectangle and Curve
The Root Five Rectangle
Canon of proportions - A set of rules about the body parts and their dimensions relative to one another that became the standard for creating the ideal figure.
Golden mean or the golden section - the smaller part of a work relates to a larger part of the work as the larger part relates to the whole.
Golden Rectangle - a rectangle based on the proportions of the golden mean.
POLYKLEITOS. Spear Bearer ( Doryphoros ) (c. 450–440 BCE). Roman copy after bronze Greek original. Marble. 6 ’ 6 ” Canon of Proportions “ Ideal” = 8 heads
Violating the Canon for Expressive Purposes ALICE NEEL. The Family (John Gruen, Jane Wilson and Julia) (1970). Oil on canvas. 4 ’ 11 7⁄8 ” x 5 ’ .
Golden Rectangle Golden Curve 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 54, 88 . . .
The east facade of the Parthenon, superimposed with a root five rectangle. When we do not consider the gable (which is absent in this photograph), the facade of the Parthenon is a root five rectangle.
Root Five Rectangle length is 2.236 (the square root of five) times its width
The Fall of Man and the Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (1508–1512). Detail: Sistine Chapel ceiling. Fresco.
The relative size of an object to other objects, its setting, or human dimensions.
Scale refers to size and placement on the picture plane.
Scale is often used to create the illusion of depth.
Scale Hokusai. The Great Wave color wood-cut
COUNT DE MONTIZON. The Hippopotamus at the Zoological Gardens, Regent’s Park (1852). Salted-paper print.
Scale Winslow Homer. Morning Bell. oil on canvas
Used to indicate importance
Larger = more importance
Often used in Ancient art.
Distortion of Scale
Claes Oldenburg. Spoonbridge with Cherry
Altering the viewer’s sense of scale can create visual shock and humor.
Claes Oldenburg: Clothespins, Baseball Bats, and Other Monuments 0
The principle of economy suggests that a good composition is the most simple solution to the design problem.
Simplicity in Art
Keeping It Simple is the Key to Good Design
Brancusi. The Kiss 1912
Milton Avery. Seated Blonde oil on canvas, 1946
Barnett Newman. Covenant oil on canvas 1949
The goal in art and design.
The state of oneness or wholeness.
A work or art achieves unity when its parts seem necessary to the composition.
Components of Art Unity Order/Oneness Subject Form Content Principles of Design Harmony Emphasis Proportion Balance Economy Rhythm Variety Elements of Art Value Color Line Shape Texture Mass
“ He searched disorder for its unifying principles.” – Brian O’Doherty on Stuart Davis 0