Even though my art viewing preference leans heavily towards asymmetrical balance, I seem to produce a fairly large number of compositions designed with formal, or symmetrical balance. Thinking about this contradiction has caused me to take a closer look at this phenomena. It doesn’t take long for my use of bilateral symmetry t0 connect with some fairly obvious preferences along the same lines.
Although I do not see myself as fanatical, I like things to be organized and in their place. Ask my husband; he will surely agree. And yes, I agree that our kitchen may be one area where improvement is still necessary, but it is difficult to have many kitchen items and limited places in which to store them. Our kitchen cabinets definitely rely on asymmetrical balance. Things have been known to either explode from their space or get jammed in gridlock only a magician can undo.
Aside from the kitchen area, most other areas of my life are pretty well ordered and arranged. Surprises are usually not high on my list, either. Time to make a plan (my brother is fond of this, too) in order for the activity to run smoothly is a must in my book. Anticipating what will take place and planning to facilitate ease makes sense to me. I guess it is safe to say I not the most spontaneous person around. It seems as if this aspect of my personality may have come from my mother. We usually blame this sort of thing on the Depression, which my parents both lived through. I have no excuse.
One might say I like to be in control. This does not, at least on the surface, seem to be a bad thing. Most people I know are in control of themselves. Empowerment is the less negative connotation of the control word. Knowing what you want and figuring out how to get it is still a good skill to have. Obvious, symmetrical balance, in visual terms is a great illustration of this concept, albeit safe and probably not as exciting or as energized as its opposite. Even when I utilize this static equality of space I attempt to infuse it with some sort of more random application of line, color or texture. That helps me to justify developing a possibly boring picture plane that is a mirror image of itself but a slam dunk in the balance department.
Noticing that my recent collages were all rather dependent on this type of arrangement, I decided to abandon my usual affection for bilateral symmetry and burst out of the box. Usually these attempts turn into landscapes, but today the collage stayed in the realm of the non-objective. Many layers after the initial gluing and gesso I came up with a whitish background burying a wealth of textures and colors beneath itself. At least the surface appealed to me, given my love of texture. The big problem, however, was still the lack of focus and contrast.
My scanner helped out in that regard and produced a number of images of the original which were then cut and rearranged around the space. It was getting better, but still lacked any major reason for its existence. It vaguely reminded me of a rakú wall relief done by a friend and former colleague. I went to take a look at his ceramic collage and realized I needed to connect some of the shapes floating around my page. Surprisingly, my husband noticed the similarity of my collage to the ceramic piece once I was done. Always good to receive some reinforcement that you weren’t imagining such a comparison. The wall relief was accomplished with more subtlety, economy and expertise. The artist really knew his medium. He has since left the world of clay and has become a painter. His surfaces are still related; only the vehicle has changed.
My frequent use of repetition, circles and texture remains constant. Hopefully the break from the predictable format has given me and the collage a bit more energy. Time will tell.