## General Compositional Layout Information

A good basic composition will often either be asymetrical or will lead the viewer's eye around the work. Some standard compositional layouts are shown above.

**Quadrant**-In this simple composition a dynamic balance is created by the changes in value from dark to light. There is not equal amounts of dark or light on each side.**Sequential**-This simple composition is completely reliant on rhythms. Rhythm is important to all compositions in any discipline and visual art is no exception. The changing sizes and values lead a viewer across the page like changing notes lead a listener through a piece of music. Notice that there are not any two areas that are the same size. This helps to create an asymmetrical balance. Other types of sequential compositions rely on mathematics, like the Fibonacci Sequence.**Asymmetrical**-Also referred to as Dynamic Balance. This sort of composition relies on creating balance between the two sides of the picture. In this picture the negative space, or area on the left where there is no rectangular object, has equal visual weight to the right side. Think of it as you would a scale. On one side of the scale there is eight one-ounce cubes and on the other is two four-ounce cubes. They both weigh eight ounces, but look different. In a compositon this could be shown as two large dark squares and eight light squares. Try to move the elements around the compositon to lead the viewer around the composition. The use of one shape, color, line etc. is called repetition of an element and helps to create connections between objects in a composition. This compositional style also shows up in sculpture.**Golden Mean (or Fibonacci Sequence used in a spiral)**-This mathematical composition is created from a 1 to 1.618... ratio. You will find this particular ratio works well in creating an interesting balance in a picture. The system is made up of a series of square areas which diminish in size and curve in toward the center, much like a snail's shell. One can recreate a similar instance of this by starting with a 10 inch by 16 inch rectangle. Divide a square section on the left side with a vertical line. Draw a line from corner to corner. At the point that the diagonal meets the vertical line draw in a horizontal. Draw another diagonal from the top right corner to the bottom of the vertical line. Draw a vertical from the point where the diagonal meets the horizontal line and continue the process until the squares become too small to work with.

Most compositions do not adhere only to one of these models, but use a combination of two or three to help carry a viewer through more complex pathways.

**Hint:** Look at other artist's compositions. You will notice that Repetition of an Element occurs as a way of holding the composition together. One may see a small hint of orange on one side of a painting that is there to balance and compliment a larger area on the other side. A curved or straight line that is reproduced in different sizes, thicknesses, and places throughout a work can visually hold the piece together.

## The Fibonacci Sequence for Visual Layout

The Fibonacci Sequence is a numerical convention that can be translated into many forms. It has been used in mathematics, architecture, poetry, music, art, and even as a system for predicting the growth of the stock market. It was developed by man named Leonardo of Pisa. Leonardo called himself Fibonacci which is a derivation from a Latin phrase "filius Bonacci" or "son of Bonacci." Even though he was originally from Italy, Fibonacci was educated in Bougia, North Africa and learned the "Hindu-Arabic" mathematical system from Moorish teachers. He saw advantages to this system and was one of the individuals responsible for introducing it into Europe.

The system, when applied to a composition can dictate placement of elements in the artwork. This results in elements that have a sort of 1/3 to 2/3 ratio making the composition more interesting. The true ratio is actually 1:1.618034. This is also called the Golden Mean and was used by the Ancient Greeks in the design of their architecture.

The composition that I have illustrated above, shows the Sequence applied in a spiral pattern. Starting with 1 x 1 square (yellow), above a 1 x 1 square (white), then bounded by a 2 x 2 square, then a 3 x 3 square, a 5 x 5 square, etc... spiraling outward from center. The abstracted figure is applied to composition. The system can also be used by dividing a rectangle by the Sequence's inverse, or .618034. This ends up being something akin to the 1/3 to 2/3 ration which I mentioned above.

Artists who used the Fibonacci Sequence in their works include Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Durer, Piet Mondrian, and Michelangelo. If you dissect a work like Perugino's *Madonna Enthroned with Child and the Saints John the Baptist and Sebastian *, you will notice that the saints are set into rectangles which reflect a .618034 ratio of the total width of the work, measuring from each side inward.

**Hint:** When designing a drawing, divide up the paper into sections based on this principle, then place your subjects into these divisions. Don't follow the lines so exactly that they are evident, but allow for some natural flow to extend beyond the boundaries that you have drawn. You'll find this effective in making your drawings more interesting.

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