Chapter 9 SummaryEnglish
Lesson 1: Visual Balance
Balance is the principle of art concerned
with equalizing visual forces, or elements, in a work of art.
Visual balance causes you to feel that the elements have been
arranged well while imbalance causes a feeling of uneasiness.
Visual forces can be arranged equally on either side of a
central axis. A central axis is a dividing
line that works like the point of balance in the balance scale.
This axis can be vertical or horizontal. Formal balance occurs
when very similar elements are placed on opposite sides of
this axis. It is the easiest type of balance to recognize
and create. Symmetry is a special type
of formal balance in which two halves of a balanced composition
are identical, mirror images of each other. Symmetry
appeals to us, but it can be stiff and formal. Many artists
avoid boring the viewer by adding small differences, creating
approximate symmetry. A complex variation of symmetry is radial
balance, in which the forces or elements of a
design come out from a central point. Radial balance
appears often in nature and is used frequently in architecture
Lesson 2: Informal Balance
Informal balance seems more realistic than
formal balance because it is closer to what appears in nature.
Rather than consisting of equal halves or sides, it relies
on the artistic arrangement of objects to appear
balanced. Informal balance, or asymmetry,
involves a balance of unlike objects. To achieve
informal balance or a more casual effect, artists must consider
the visual weight, or attraction, that elements in a work
of art have to the viewer’s eyes. There are six factors
that influence visual weight. (1) Size: A large shape or form
appears heavier than a small shape. (2) Contour: An object
with a complicated contour seems heavier than one with a simple
contour. (3) Color: High-intensity colors have the most visual
weight. (4) Value: The stronger the contrast in value between
an object and the background, the more visual weight the object
has. (5) Texture: An object with a rough texture seems heaviest.
(6) Position: A small object far from the dominant area of
a work can seem just as heavy as a large object close to the
dominant area. By taking these weight differences in account,
artists create works that appear naturally balanced.
Lesson 3: The Expressive Qualities
The type of balance an artist uses to organize a work of art
affects the feeling expressed by that work. To express a message
of dignity and stability, an artist may use formal balance.
Official buildings are often arranged with formal balance
to imply that the business conducted in them is serious and
solemn. By using approximate symmetry, artists can still convey
stability but avoid rigid formality of pure symmetry. Radial
symmetry usually appears in decorative arts but can be used
in paintings to focus attention on an important part of the
artwork. Informal balance is used to give works such as landscapes
a natural quality. Architects also increasingly use informal
balance. When used in single-family homes, this type of balance
communicates the idea of casual living.