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Break the rules?

April 9, 2015

Woven triangles

“Woven Triangles” – oil pastel from my sketchbook

I have always wondered about the rules for making art. Here are some I’ve been taught (and used):

  • Use energetic, thick/thin, broken lines to suggest strong emotion; light, elusive lines to suggest delicacy and tentativeness.
  • Use complementary hues in unequal amounts (a main color and an accent) to make colors “pop” on a canvas.
  • Create a focal point in a painting so that somebody viewing it knows what’s important and doesn’t get confused about where to look.
  • Create a path (e.g., zigzag, diagonal, cruceiform) through the composition so viewers can get “in” and “out.”
  • Vary the size and kinds of shapes, along with the treatment of their edges, to create more visual interest.
  • etc.

As useful as rules can be, it’s always tempting, and equally useful, to break them. That process of considering and breaking rules can result in new challenges and in new interpretations of why and how to make art. What would happen if you followed anti-rules for awhile?

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