I think that it’s important to emphasize that, even though I use geometric points, lines and planes to study the visual compositions that I include in this blog, the compositions themselves are not necessarily created using geometry. Someone can create a strong design without picking up a compass or straight edge.
When writing about strong designs I recall compositions that have communicated with me in very direct ways. The impressions that I receive when looking at these compositions may bypass words altogether, and instead be experienced as a brief, sequential movement of energies through my body.
These physical experiences may, in turn, produce corresponding emotional or ideational experiences.
For example, when looking at this still life painting (Fig. 1) by Colleen Cox1, I experience a kind of visceral collectedness. A certain stillness. Next, I become aware of an interplay between visual symmetry and asymmetry, and some subtle movements begin.
In studying this composition geometrically I see three worlds altogether.
The first world is about symmetry, and it’s main characters are the two peaches, symmetrically centered along the horizontal dimension (Fig. 2).
The second world is asymmetrical, and it’s actors are two vessels. One wide, the other narrow. One higher, the other lower. One full of flowers, the other perhaps(?) empty (Fig. 3).
The third world extends beyond the visible painting. In this world the peaches and vessels begin to move away from the center, but a new symmetry emerges (Fig. 4). This new symmetry has no actors to speak of, unless it’s an unassuming daisy that faces out toward the viewer. In any case this lighter-colored daisy becomes the center of a circle. A square is nested inside of this circle. An equilateral triangle is nested inside of the square, and it then projects its way downward until it rests on the table top.
I think that the visual story of this particular painting would make a wonderful compositional basis for a verbal story or poem having to do with different layers of reality.
Based in New Paltz, NY, the Sevenfold School of Art offers training in classical drawing and painting. Founder, Alex Canelos, has a years of experience with teaching figure drawing, perception, proportion, composition, perspective (Western and Eastern), color theory, art history, materials and techniques.