Shape (plus Line too)

This is your shape project but we're going to keep thinking about line too.

Visual Definitions
Before you read this section on shape create a series of thirty-six 3"x3" squares in your journal.  Leave an inch or so between them. They don't need to be perfect, just sketch them in. Then come back and read this. As you read through it, in your journal, in your squares, pause and make three visual definitions in pencil for each type of the following types of shape. Make them as varied as possible. Don't forget to fill them in.

Here are some examples of visual definitions of Positive Shape by Allan McCollum:

Making Shapes
Shape can be made in different ways.  The simplest way to make a shape is with a line that comes back and connects with itself, like a loop:

Shape can be made by intersecting lines. Like this:

Or like this:

Or like this:

Similar to making shape through intersecting lines, shapes can be made by overlapping other shapes. The overlaps create new shapes.

Notice that the overlapping can create a sense of rhythm as in the next two examples.

Types of Shapes

Positive: Positive shapes occupy space. You occupy space so your silhouette, or you shadow, would be a positive shape. (You are not a positive shape as you are three dimensional. Being three dimensional makes you a positive form.)

Negative: Negative shapes to not occupy space. Backgrounds are negative space. The shapes that make up a background in an image are negative shapes. So all of the space around your shadow would be negative space.

The relationship between positive and negative shape can become easily become complicated. Here's an example from a class like ours:

Rectilinear: Rectilinear shapes make up a general category of shapes that are just what they sound like; any shapes made of of straight lines and angular corners. Some rectilinear shapes are geometric shapes, though not all. 

Geometric: Geometric shapes make up a more specific category of shapes that reference geometry and mathematics. These are named shapes with  such as rectangles, circles, triangles, ellipses  hexagons, quatrefoils, rhombuses, etc. Pay attention that geometric shapes are not all rectilinear and can include curves. 

Curvilinear: These shapes are simply shapes that are dominated by curves. Like rectilinear, curvilinear is a general category that includes shapes that also fall into more specific categories. Non-objective (sometimes called non-representational): In common speech when we call something "abstract" what we usually mean is non-objective. Non-objective shapes do not represent or depict a person, place or thing in the world. 

Representational: Representational shapes do represent a person, place or thing. Representational shapes can be very general, like the Male or Female symbol on a restroom door, or they can be very specific, referring to a specific person, place or thing. 

Abstract: Abstract shapes are not what you probably think they are. Abstract shapes are abstracted from real things and have a recognizable form. The Male or Female symbol on a restroom door is an abstraction from reality. Abstract shapes can also be distortions from reality. For example, a human figure might be drawn all wonky in order to depict confusion or drunkeness. 

Organic: Organic shape is another general category. These shapes tend to be irregular, tend to be uneven, and tend to be dominated by curves, though these are only tendencies and so are not always the case. An amoeba or an ink blot are good examples of organic shapes as they can take any form. 

Natural: Natural Shape is a more specific category of organic shape. These are shapes that tend to be found in nature such as a leaves, rocks, and clouds. They tend to have more curves and can be uneven.

Trial Compositions

Once you've completed your verbal definitions begin working in your journal. In pencil, preferably with colored pencil, make 3 vertical and 3 horizontal compositions that make use of both shape and line.

Go back and look at the lines and influences you had for the line project. Look at all of the visual definitions you made. Consider all of the types of shape possible. Remember to pay attention to the negative spaces, you're composing those shapes as well.

In each one of these use no more than three shapes, no more than three lines, and no more than three colors. Different versions of a color count as separate colors. Keep it simple.

We are going to critique these and make suggestions about what's working and how they can be improved.

Pay attention to having some variety in the scale of your elements and think about spatial depth.  Students can tend to make everything flat and of a similar size which leads to an un-exciting composition.  Here are a video and some images to look at.

The video looks a little better if you go to YouTube to watch it:

Julie Mehretu

Thomas Nozkowski
Donal Odili Odita

Final Compositions
Choose your best vertical and best horizontal compositions. Using any advice you received during the working critique, remake those using gouache chits and bristol board as discussed in class. Use a full Make it 8"x10" with 1" margins at the top and sides and a 2" margin at the bottom.  Remember, create flat even patches of color and bevel your edges under.

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