By Staci L. Smith
found still life line drawing only
Art- in every form has some rules, and I think they transcend medium. I have been thinking a lot about what makes great jewelry designs special. There are many answers to this, surely, but I think there is one common theme. Composition.
I found the answer deep in my memory of those classes. It may come natural to some, but it can always be learned, and explored further. It’s what makes the difference between observing something that makes you want to look longer, and explore it deeper, or looking at something and moving on.(charcoal- single light night study)
I found my old Vocabulary of Form sheet from my 2-D design class and wanted to share some of them with you. I think just reading these allow us to see how they play into our designs as jewelry makers.
Balance- a feeling of equilibrium in weight, attention, or attraction that is achieved by using various visual elements within an artwork to accomplish organic unity.
Symmetrical balance- a form of balance achieved by using identical units placed in mirror like repetition on either side of a central axis.
Asymmetrical balance- a form of balance in which unlike ways and / or means are used to achieve a “felt” equilibrium
Dominance- the principle of visual organization that suggests that certain elements should assume more importance than others in the same design or composition. Some features are emphasized while others are subordinated.
Variety- the use of opposing, contrasting, changing, elaborating or diversifying elements in a composition to add individualism and interest; the counterweight of harmony in a work of art.
Harmony- the related qualities of the visual elements of a composition. Harmony is achieved by repetition of characteristics that are the same or similar.
Motif- a visual elements or combination of elements that is repeated often enough in a composition to make it a significant feature of the artist expression; a design that is repeated within a larger design.
Negative areas- the unoccupied or empty space left after the imagery has been created by the artist. However, when these areas have boundaries, they also function as design shapes in the total artistic structure.
Repetition- the use of the same visual effect a number of times in the same composition. Repetition may produce the dominance of one visual idea, a feeling of harmonious relationship, an obviously planned pattern or a rhythmic movement.
Rhythm- a continuance, a flow, or a feeling of movement achieved by repetition of regulated visual units; the use of measured accents.
(ink of my hubby lookin' hot at the beach)
OK- so you read them, now what? I am sure you could recognize some of the ways you use these definitions in your work. But I think you can also now see what you may want to strive for. Perhaps you have a piece where you want to convey harmony, or tension. The definitions above may be able to help you achieve your desired outcome.
Being a predominantly asymmetrical designer, here are some rules I live by………………..
1. Start with the focal and build your piece from there- decide if it will be the dominant feature or part of a pattern, or a motif.
2. Rule of three: when designing, use either one large or three small in a row. Never two small or four. Using three seems to keep the eye hungry for one more and thus keeps it moving through the design.
3. Carry at least two elements through the piece to create your “felt” equilibrium. Either a color or a shape or texture. Each one doesn’t have to be repeated more than once on each side.
4. The rest are top secret (just kidding).
I hope reading some of these definitions help with your future designs. Whether you create jewelry to be visually appealing alone, or want to give it meaning, I think we can all explore composition a little deeper and allow it nurture our designs.
For me it has really been a journey to go back through my old folders, and pictures I have of my favorite projects from school. I can really see my “style” in the drawings, and feel like I have achieved that same style in my jewelry designs. I had no idea how much my drawing background affected my jewelry, and how strong my style has been, through many mediums, through many years. So in reference to the post from Barbara yesterday, I enjoyed looking back.
*All drawings were by me during college around 1999- don't laugh, I was really proud of them!