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Session 11

High Art or Low?

Get different effects when you draw in the top or the bottom of your canvas

woman creates expressive drawing

A student paints a picture with content primarily on the bottom of the working space. Does that drive your reaction? — Steve Aimone

During our study we've discovered that shapes, lines, marks and textures are alive, that they have character, personality and an ability to elicit responses from a viewer. Now it is time to consider that the space you draw in can also be used to achieve certain effects.

See also: Drawing with a grid.

The most basic way to do this is by thinking about where you place the various elements of your artwork on your drawing surface. Those near the top obviously become more prominent and, thus, feel more energetic. This is partially because of an imagined sense of gravity: something near the top of your canvas is more likely to feel as if it may spin into motion or fall.

Likewise, elements placed at or near the bottom of a drawing feel grounded and supported, less likely to go into motion, and therefore less dynamic.

So if you want to create a drawing that is full of dynamism, power and a sense of motion, one way to do so is to place the majority of strong contrasts and elements high up in the space. Conversely, if you wish to create a drawing that feels grounded, stable, settled, peaceful and relatively at rest, you might consider placing major elements and forces low in the space.

Next: Explore this dynamic of the rectangular space firsthand. >>

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