Today's post is about "Irregularity"...the good kind, not the kind you need a pill for! If you are a gardener you might already know to plant odd numbers of the same type of shrub or tree or flower. You would also choose a variety of heights, foliage types, and shapes because, well, it's just more interesting. However, our human brain on a rudimentary level actually finds more security in even numbers and predictability and will default to repetitive arrangements and expressions. Artists are no exception; we must learn to resist the inclination and intentionally seek designs that are expressive with energy and tension,
So why, if we feel safer with even numbers, even spacing, predictable patterns, do we find ourselves responding to the opposite? In a word: Variety. We want to be safe but we also want to be surprised, interrupted, engaged mentally and affected emotionally. This is a higher brain function! The artist can create a much more interesting painting using variety in shapes, spacing, and placement,
Here's a little exercise for you: Step 1: draw a simple tree...a trunk and a shape that encapsulates the foliage. Now draw a second tree an inch to the right with the same shape and size. You can draw a third and fourth tree in the same way until you have a line of trees the same size and spacing. Step 2: Draw tree #1 as before, but now draw tree #2 making it taller or shorter, tree #3 wider and further away from 1 & 2 and maybe even in a cluster with trees #4 & #5. Your first drawing may resemble a Christmas tree farm which is great for shopping, but not for evoking visual interest. Your second drawing with its variety increases the visual energy! Go frontal lobe!
photo credit: unsplash,com
The next time you are enjoying a gallery visit pick a painting to study with this concept in mind. Are the shapes varied? Are the intervals, i.e. spaces between, different? Is everything the same size or is there a variety of heights and widths. This concept applies whether it's a landscape, still life, or even a portrait painting. Are you more drawn to paintings with complexity to the scene? Pick out one or two of the paintings during your gallery visit that succeed in expressing visual energy and see if applying this knowledge has enhanced your art viewing experience.
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