Symmetry in art: when the painter’s life is hanging in the balance

"Balconies", digital image, KGTaylor

Although this expression, “hanging in the balance,” seems like we are in a life or death moment, it’s ironic that the art principal of symmetry most often suggests stability. What you see in a symmetrical image is a nearly perfect balance of an image and its mirror image reflected along a center dividing line.

This image above came about from a session of creating with Photoshop. I’ve struggled with making collages with real materials, but I have more success when I attempt collage in Photoshop. It’s a mystery, but might have something to do with practice and the power of that program I hold dear after so many years of use.

"Dolphins on the High Seas," digital art, KGTaylor

I’m not completely sure why I’m crazy about this Dolphin piece I made a few years ago. I went through a “Jacques Cousteau” phase where I was enamored with the sea life PBS program I used to have on TV while I worked into the night hours of deadlines. The tropical world intrigues me too. Dolphins are such playful creatures, they are wonderful.

Little Bird Mandala, gouache, KG Taylor

Mandalas are symmetrical in all directions. This gouache painting was done for a graduate color theory course I took from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. It took a huge amount of time to fulfill that course’s assignments, but was worth it, (she said, once again.)

The Vetruvian Man, drawing, Leonardo Da Vinci.

Leonardo’s Vetruvian Man drawing is the quintessential example of symmetry in art. It’s based on how “ideal” human proportions  relate to architecture, described by an ancient Roman architect, Vitruvius, and is the perfect example of things classical. I appreciate the beauty of this old drawing. How do we bring the concept of symmetry into this age, and make it new?

A discussion of symmetrical forms in art needs to end with a challenge. Symmetrical designs can be boring. Think about it, the multitude of objects in our world are symmetrical in design, from the human face to a chair and beyond. I believe a really interesting symmetrical art work needs a “twist” if it is to capture our imagination. What is that twist to be? Exceptional color palette? Dramatic subject matter? Fabulous craftsmanship? A touch of an element in the composition that tries to make the perfect symmetry imperfect and therefore unusual? It’s up to the artist to meet that challenge. Come on, artist out there, what would you do?


2 Responses to “Symmetry in art: when the painter’s life is hanging in the balance”

  1. Leslie Ann Clark Says:

    What I like about DA Vinci’s is that even though symmetrical, there are differences.


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