Which Supportive Tool in the Artist's Repertoire Do You Need The Most?

Right now, I bet you're wondering what supportive artist's tools there are for artists, and if you can think of some, you might be wondering if there's one that you've forgotten!

During this discussion I'm going to address one of the most important tools that artists use and yet you may not even be aware that this is in fact, a tool, but of course it is. The tool to which I'm referring is Composition. It, like many aspects of my art practice, has diverse elements to it. I have written about composition before in more general terms, in a previous post, where I broke composition down into the following areas:

  1. OPPOSITION

  2. TRANSITION

  3. SUBORDINATION

  4. REPETITION

  5. SYMMETRY

Let's dive a little deeper now, beginning with the concept of Opposition. What does that mean exactly?

The concept of opposition is simple, it is where two lines meet to form a simple but severe Harmony. We see many examples of this in architecture, for example, in the Egyptian temple below, observe the sharp right angled shapes occurring.



Or in these examples of Greek column design.







Of course there are several examples of Opposition in the landscape also. This occurs where we see vertical lines cutting a Horizon line such as a tree which interferes with the eye line of a hillside, as seen in my painting below, where the Poplar trees bisect the hillsides.



Or we might see a yacht's mast cut the horizon line at right angles on the ocean.




A particularly important application of this principle occurs in design work. For example, composing within squares and even in circles. If you would like to play with this idea you can practice using an enclosed area of a definite regular shape. I would begin with a square, dividing it into harmonious groups and smaller areas by drawing straight lines within as demonstrated in the following designs: Looking at A, B and C in the diagram, you will note that A is geometric only and allows no choice within the design, and thus we would not call it art.



B on the other hand provides an opportunity for creative exploration. As an exercise, create five more variations on this design. This type of underlying design may be found in abstract art.



As can the arrangement seen in C. Look at the examples below and create five more arrangements of your own.



Practice with this kind of line arrangement is actually a preparation for many different kinds of artwork in different disciplines, whether that be architecture, sculpture, painting or design.


Question: How do you employ this design principle in your own work? Can you use it to help lead the eye to your focal point?




Pix Credits:

Egyptian Temple - Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

Yachts - Tramijasmine

Line arrangements - Composition

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