Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Atargatis. Chine Colle. An example of vertical divisions within a horizontal rectangular composition. Notice the horizontal fish border at top.

Most picture plane surfaces are rectangular or square. Placement of your subject within these shapes is related to the success of your finished composition. If you are depicting realistic subject matter, your choice of placement in a horizontal or vertical orientation is important if you are to present your subject to the best advantage. If your work is abstract or non-objective, you can make the work fit the shape.

Where the focal points are located within this picture plane is also important.

As mentioned in the last blog post, it is possible to vary the shape of your composition within the picture plane by creating various format shapes within the outer picture plane boundaries.

The space within the picture plane shape or format shape may be divided in some general ways:

•Rectangles and squares. Most compositions will conform to a rectangular or square shape with either a Horizontal format or Vertical format.

Format Division
Within the inner format shape, the space may be delineated and characterized by Horizontal, vertical, diagonal or organic divisions, or a combination of all of these. Generally the shapes within the composition characterize these kinds of divisions, even when they are organic,
or represent the major boundaries of the subject.

Barn on Marsh Road. Mixed Water Media. This composition uses the diagonals of perspective to divide the picture plane. The shorelines, the barn roofs, reflections and receding foliage create the illusion of depth, and also lead the eye into the distance.

Other kinds of format divisions:
•Geometric Grids and diamond grids can be used to divide the picture plane.
•Other geometric shapes, triangular, hexagonal, etc.
•Circular, arched, or oval shapes.
•Organic divisions.

Bridge. Created in a children's computer program, KidPix, and later enhanced using Appleworks and Photoshop. Note how the geometric compostion remains 2-dimensional in spite of many diagonal lines throughout.

Images and Writing are created by Ruth Zachary and are not to be copied without her permission.

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