Ordinary? Extraordinary! (Principles of Design)

Week 12 of my Art Challenge 2015 rolls around and I’ve picked up yet another technique for getting inspiration… And that is:

Take something that’s “ordinary” and use Principles of Design to make it “extraordinary”.

The principles of design are like rules, and are the ways that artists use design elements in a work of art. The crew at Paper Leaf Design have crafted this groovy infographic featuring four Principles of Design:

contrast repetition design

Contrast (or Emphasis)

Contrast is a tool to create emphasis — the part of the design that catches the viewer’s attention. Contrast can be created by using sizes, colours, textures, shapes, directions, tone values, and so on.

Repetition works with pattern and bring a sense of activity to the design, as well as a sense of unity. (Unity is the feeling of harmony between all parts of the design, ergo creating a sense of completeness.)

Alignment, or Balance is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, colours, texture, and space.

  • If the elements used on one side of the design are equal to those on the other side, it’s described as symmetrical balance.
  • If they’re not mirrored, but still look balanced, it’s asymmetrical balance.
  • A design with a central focus point, such as a clock-face or a daisy, has radial balance.
  • And, a design without a stand-out focus point, could be described as having crystallographic balance.

So, armed with these principles, I took an ordinary object — a spork — and turned it into a design using: Contrast, using black on white; repetition (and pattern); and crystallographic balance.

Who’d have thought a boring, everyday item such as a spork (still with some Pad Thai stuck to the prongs, he he he) could create an interesting design?


principles of design contrast repetition balance

There are other principles of design widely accepted as gospel for artists:

Movement is the path the viewer’s eye takes through the work of art, often to a focal
area. The artist can use elements such as lines, edges, shape, and colour to keep the eye moving through the piece. Had I painted one of the sporks above, red, your eye would be immediately drawn to it, hence I would have created movement.

Movement is also created with Rhythm — created when one or more elements of design are used repeatedly in the piece (not necessarily pattern). Rhythm works best when there is variety, to keep the eye moving (and looking for more interesting focal points). I think there’s *just* enough variety in each of the sporks to keep the eye moving from one to the other.

Proportion is the relationship between all the parts in the work — size, perspective, proximity. One of my TAFE colleagues used proportion to make her ordinary object — an egg beater — extraordinary. She drew it against a backdrop of rolling hills and valleys, making it appear enormous. It looked fantastic.

Anyway, a very worthwhile exercise, and one that I will refer back to whenever the dreaded creative block hits!

Shine on!
❤ Anita Revel

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Behold the light!
❤ Anita Revel