Thursday, February 6, 2014

Art in Asymmetry

by Staci Louise Smith

Why asymmetry in design?  Well, when you switch up the color, the texture, the direction and flow of a piece, it creates interest.  It keeps the viewer looking at it, and back over it, following little details, back and forth and through it.  It makes it stand out from other designs, it makes it unique, original.  It gives it a natural organic feel, since nature is not symmetrical.  

Art is not symmetrical.  Whether you are viewing a painting, or a sculpture, the subject keeps your eye moving around, up and down, and through the entire piece.  This is intentional, it is the composition of the piece.

Sculptures are made to be viewed from all angles, keeping interest the entire way around the piece, as Steve Frank certainly does with his piece below.

There are ways to get the eye to do that.  Repeating things is one way.  You can repeat shapes, colors, or textures throughout a piece.  This will keep the eye traveling around the piece, as well as create a visual balance in an asymmetrical design.  Also, adding some contrast in your piece will continue to create interest and make the pieces that are repeated pop.

I love this lino cut by Jess Freeman.  It uses vertical free form trees repeated to move your eye across the picture- and contrast is added by horizontal lines in varying thickness'.

I also picked this lovely painting by Amanda of Earth Angels Art.  Look at how she uses the moths, and dots throughout the picture to keep your eye moving around.  They are lighter color, to contrast the dark sky, and repeated, to keep your eye looking for them.

I think that often we do these things while designing without even knowing it.  However, it helps to know and understand these things, because sometimes we are stuck, sometimes we just can't figure out why something doesn't look right, and then we have these rules and guidelines and tips to fall back on.

Lorelei did a great job using repetitive shapes in this piece.  The similarity in shape keeps your eye moving right through the necklace, and the variety of textures and color hold your interest.

It's also a good example of visual balance, as it has the appearance of being symmetrical, even though it isn't.

Visual balance can be created in many ways.  This piece / style below is one of my favorite pieces.  It is in no way symmetrical, yet, it is balanced using muted colors, and basic shape and size.  It comes to a focal point at the bottom center, and graduates by size on each side.  Swirls and repeated shapes and colors pull the eye through the piece.

I think that for those of you who gravitate to symmetry in your designs, this is a great way to start trying out asymmetry.  Try to create that visual balance while at the same time, adding interest by using different components, with varying texture, shape and color.

I also like this piece by Glowfly, which is just a very intricate pendant.  It looks very symmetrical at first glance.

However, it is not symmetrical.  They have used the flowers and leaves and lines of the stems to create repetition in the piece, though it is definitely not symmetrical.  It creates a wonderful feel of symmetry while adding the interest of an asymmetrical piece.

Now- you can also do a great asymmetrical piece that is not visually balanced.  However, there still needs to be some sort of cohesive nature to  make the piece work.  I often like to make pieces that are bold, and unbalanced.  With only a couple components- you don't have much to work with to create flow.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.

This large chunky one works, and its one of my favorite pieces.  With only two large focal components, there is still enough flow so that it doesn't look awkward. 

I really encourage you guys to try out some asymmetrical designs.  It is very freeing, once you start to see that they can be balanced, without ever having two of the same bead in the entire piece!

Monday we will be talking about physical balance in a piece to bring your designs home.

Remember to share you progress in our Flickr group!  We'd love to see what you are up to!


Artisan Beads Plus said...

Love this post, Staci! Your posts always get me thinking......

Lorelei Eurto said...

Hey there! Thanks for featuring one of my necklaces! I love this post, because it's true. Working in a more asymmetrical style is quite freeing! As long as you find a balance, and work out the weight issues, an asymmetrical piece can really be quite successful.

sandi m said...

Loving this Boot Camp...

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