Harmony And Unity

Harmony and Unity.
Harmonious elements have a logical relationship or progression - in some way they work together and complement each other. When a jarring element is added - something that goes against the whole - it is said to be dissonant, just like an off-note in a musical performance. Unity is created by using harmonious similarity and repetition, continuance, proximity and alignment, and closure of design elements in different parts of the work so that the parts RELATE to each other and create a unified whole, that can be greater than the sum of the parts, rather than an ill-fitting and meaningless assortment of elements.

Similarity - Items with similar or identical characteristics - size, shape, color, etc. - will be thought of as a group by the viewer. A few similar elements throughout a work can help the whole work cohere. Like corn starch or gelatin in cooking, you want enough, but too much can take away variety (and in food, make it like rubber).

Continuance - An art element that has direction - a line, edge, spiral, path leading back in perspective, the direction a figure is gazing or moving, or any shape or form that stretches out - will tend to point the viewer's attention off in that direction. The viewer's eye will keep on looking in that direction, skating off beyond the element, until another significant element stops or redirects the viewer's gaze. This means a dominant pointing element can lead the viewer's gaze out of the picture, which might not be desired, unless countered by something that blocks or deflects attention back into the picture. Using continuance, small cues can be used to steer attention around the whoe work.

Closure - Our brains like to fill in the blanks and complete things, much like a phone guessing at what you're trying to text as you type. Small parts can be used to suggest a whole; a few corners or a dotted outline can conjure up a whole shape. Not explicitly showing the viewer everything, leaving her room to work some parts out for herself, can create a more rewarding experience.

Proximity and Alignment - Things that are close together or aligned with one another will be lumped into a group by the brain, even if they are very dissimilar. The more similar, closer or aligned the elements are, the more strongly they will be read as a group.

Salmon Bottle by Tom Coleman and Frank Boyden

Tom Coleman and Frank Boyden - white stoneware, 25 x 15 in. The loose flowing form and bronze color, similar to river stones, form a natural backdrop for the fish. The fish swim around the pot, pointing the gaze on and up, while the ridges at the shoulder of the vase act like the surface of the water, helping frame the fish and keeping them and attention from jumping away. Metallic highlights gleam from the fish and top of the vase, catching attention, while the bottom gets darker like deeper water, fading from view.

Sarah Sze by Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze - Sarah Sze, 2005.

Untitled, 2000 by Jerry Uelsmann

Jerry Uelsmann - Untitled, 2000. We are used to seeing women's lips on women's faces, so our brains try to make sense of and complete the image. The bilateral symmetry of the road and sky dividing the trees echoes facial symmetry, subtly hinting at upper lip, nose and forehead; the crow on the road could suggest a beauty mark. The lips heighten our sense of the scene, conjuring a not-quite-seen presence that the woods might make us feel in person.

Woven bracken ball
Langholm, Scotland
November 1985 by Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy - Woven bracken ball, Langholm, Scotland, November 1985

Ile de la Cité, 1952 by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson - Barrio Chino, Barcelona, 1933, gelatin silver print, 13.5 x 9.25 in.

Ode To Herculaneum by Kris Kuksi

Kris Kuksi - Ode To Herculaneum, 2011, mixed media assemblage, 17.5 x 22 x 6.5 in.

time well spent

closeup view Jack Troy cup, links to Jack Troy artist page

time to explore

link to newest page of ceramic artist links, including link to Scott Parady, pictured

time flies

Link to monthly image blog