Thursday, January 8, 2009


Picture Plane shapes

The usual picture plane shapes are rectangular, vertical, horizontal, square, or sometimes round or oval. If a bias develops for one shape, it may be challenging to arbitrarily work with another shape. Some artists even create irregular shapes for their picture plane, perhaps to accent an element depicted.

It is possible to create a specific shape within the given picture plane, leaving a neutral boundary area around the main composition. Again, Format shapes may be geometric, circular, rectangular, organic, symmetrical, assymmetrical, or may spill out of the picture's inner boundary, as in the image below, Chameleon.

Summer Lace
. Collagraph

Artists are accustomed to planning art on paper knowing it will be matted when framing. Matting can be used to alter the compositional shape. When creating art on a board or canvas, it is also a good idea to create a quieter area at the outer edges of the composition, to visually separate the image area from the frame.

Format shapes can be designed on canvas, board and paper surfaces, either in advance of working, or afterward. They can be circular, oval, arched, notched, rectangular, combination shapes, organic, etc. as with the above listed possibilities.

Chameleon. Computer Photo Montage.

It is possible to incorporate a composition which falls within an organic shape, as with the etching below, Damselflight. The lower area contains less imagery but the top is more active near the edges. This piece is always presented with a mat.

Format division as another approach to design. The picture plane can be purposely divided into segments for another effect, and for a new design challenge or approach. They can be geometric or organic. This can occur with both realism and abstract work.

Even if the format is not obviously separated by lines, the elements within can still form divisions within the picture plane. Divisions can be geometric, or they can be organic or a combination of both.

Damselflight. Etching

I'll Never Come This Way Again.
Watercolor and collage.

Consider the various options for dividing the format of a composition. Divisions help to organize elements into an order which can make the whole more interesting to view. Look at format shapes and divisions in galleries, art shows, note cards, architecture, and book illustrations. Consider using some of them.

The next blog posts will feature illustrations of different kinds of format divisions.

Images and Writing are the Copyright of Ruth Zachary.

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