Doodle Draw Journal: An Art Journaling Workbook edited by Kristy Conlin is full of awesome doodling tips and prompts to provide you with inspiration for your art journal, and to help improve your doodling-drawing skills. Below you’ll find an exercise from Doodle Draw Journal, “Draw Within a Grid” originally from Dreaming from the Journal Page. You’ll also find a bonus project not included in Doodle Draw Journal, about “Asymmetry” from Art Journal Freedom. Have fun with these grid drawing challenges!
Draw Within a Grid
Originally published in Dreaming from the Journal Page by Melanie Testa
Try drawing like items around the house—cups, plants, spice jars or scissors will work nicely. Using a pencil, draw a grid in a size appropriate to your journal (mine is a 2″ [5cm] grid). Play with the idea of maintaining the grid without necessarily filling every bit of each square. Fill in just enough so you know a grid was used. Use every pen in your collection, one pen per square. Fill each portion of the grid with a new drawing. Use decorative marks to shade, fill space and define each drawing.
choice of drawing utensil
YOU TRY IT:
In her introduction to this technique, Melanie Testa suggests a few items (cups, plants, spice jars) you might consider for this exercise. What other subjects might you choose to focus your efforts on? Do you have any collections? Is there a subject that is particularly meaningful or important to you? Another popular grid-based exercise comes from some of the first classes you might take at art school. Or maybe you’ve done this in your high school art classes: choose one item (like a tube of lipstick or doll or figurine) and draw it in different positions or from different angles.
I love asymmetry. I am not sure if it’s a reflection of my right-brained mind, but I find asymmetry exciting. When I start a page, I tend to automatically move toward an asymmetrical composition. I tend to resist rigid structure in my art (and even in my life). Asymmetry speaks to me.
Asymmetry is when the elements on one half of a composition do not mirror the elements on the other half, but there is equal visual weight on both sides. Asymmetrical compositions are informal, energetic and even chaotic. There’s no one formula for asymmetrical compositions, and that is what makes asymmetry so interesting. Oh, the possibilities! With asymmetry, you’re not bound by the rigid structure that symmetry requires.
Every now and then, though, a symmetrical page will pop up in my journals. Sometimes symmetry is what a page needs to express what is in my soul at that moment.
If you draw a line down the middle of my journal page, So This Is Progress, the asymmetry is obvious. The black silhouette is on the far left. I balanced the visual weight of the strong figure with the three white circles that start behind the figure and move to the top right. The white space on the bottom right also gives visual weight to the right side of the page.
One way to create an asymmetrical composition is to use the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a compositional tool that helps you know where to put your focal point. To use the rule, divide your surface into thirds vertically and horizontally. The areas where the lines intersect are called “power points.” By putting your subject in one of the power points, you create balance and visual interest.
The rule of thirds is related to the rule of threes. In its simplest form, the rule of threes means that the human eye tends to prefer seeing odd numbers of things, particularly three things. For example, if you are using circles on a page, the eye tends to prefer seeing three instead of two or four. If you’re creating a page and something seems off, check to see if the rule of thirds and the rule of threes can help your composition.
When you use three elements on the page, your eyes look at each one and connect them together to form a visual triangle. Our eyes like visual triangles! A visual triangle adds stability and flow to a composition. In So This Is Progress, the large silhouette is in the two left power points. The three white circles in the background form a visual triangle. If there were only two circles, the eye would bounce back and forth between them. Because there are three, the eye follows the visual triangle around the composition.
Is Your Art Unbalanced?
If you create an asymmetrical composition with unequal visual weight on both sides, it is considered unbalanced. Unbalanced art is an art school no-no, but anything goes in an art journal! It can be harder than you think to make an unbalanced page. Even large areas of empty space can be a balancing influence
Exploring Symmetry and Asymmetry
Use a symmetrical composition when you want to:
Play with pattern, repetition and order.
Force a viewer to look at every detail equally in your page.
Convey a sense of calm.
Use an asymmetrical composition when you want to:
Heighten drama in your work.
Create a sense of motion and play.
Create visual interest and complexity.
Create a grid composition.
An easy way to add some symmetry to your work is to use a grid. You could draw a grid right onto your page and create in the squares. For Butterfly Grid, I created a grid with inky and painted papers. The gridded composition forces you to look at all the squares. None of the squares is overly dominant, so you must discover them all equally.
Create a center-weighted composition.
I very rarely put my focal point smack in the center of my page, but doing just that is a simple way to create a symmetrical page. For Girl With Attitude, I placed my silhouetted figure right in the middle. Instant symmetry! I surrounded the figure with journaling so the visual weight of the journaling would be spread across the entire page.
Learn more about the books featured in this post:
Doodle Draw Journal edited by Kristy Conlin
Dreaming from the Journal Page by Melanie Testa
Art Journal Freedom by Dina Wakley
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