Artist-Inspired Positive-Negative Shape Compositions

Student Examples Fall '09

This is about space.
How you see it.
How you use it.

As artists we make decisions about space—both in the positive (figure) and negative (ground). Consciously, we can determine what shapes look like, as well as where they are placed. We can create pieces that are more or less interesting, more or less rhythmic, more or less balanced, and so on.

Choose one Artist (either Matisse, Davis, Miro, Indiana or Mondrian) whose shapes you wish to explore in this project. You are to create four 5" x 5" compositions that use shapes similar to the artist’s and demonstrate the following:

• BALANCE (please choose symmetrical or asymmetrical balance)

  1. Please start by looking at your chosen artist and his shapes; draw some of his shapes in your sketchbook. Decide which 2-3 shapes you are going to use in all of your squares.
  2. Take time to think about the Principles above and play with the shapes to make the best combinations that describe the four Principles.
  3. You must use at least six pieces of paper in each composition.
  4. Use an x-acto or scissors to cut your shapes and a glue stick to adhere them to the paper.
  5. When done with the four, please mount on larger paper.
• On the back of your big paper please put your name and label with the Principle you are demonstrating.
• Please also write how you achieved that Principle, i.e., “I placed my shapes close together, creating tension.”

Craftsmanship: Please be sure to erase all pencil marks. Once you have determined your composition, use either a glue stick or Elmers-type glue to secure shapes, but take care to not leave any glue showing where it shouldn’t. (Hint: glue shows up on colored paper; put the glue on the shape to be glued, not your background paper) Cut carefully with the x-acto knife. Always cut with a cutting board under your paper. If your paper is not cutting “cleanly” you probably need a new blade.