Elements and Relationship


I do have one question about the picture. What’s the background area on the right doing for it? I understand the circles relate to the circle of the sun and the size of the things in this area are a contrast, but what for? I have no story for this part.

The piece is a neat one and a great example to analyze. Here’s an important thing to remember. Not every element serves a purpose that’s obvious or directly related to the storyline when the images are figurative (recognizable elements) as opposed to being abstract, or something you don’t recognize as objects at all. In this case, the circle pattern just adds interest and texture and the fact that it relates to the sun keeps it in the realm of building relationship. So adding interest visually may occur without adding to the actual story told by the elements.

One other exercise you can do when you are looking at work is think about what you might do differently to make the piece stronger! This is NOT sacrilegious. It’s a great learning tool. For example, in this piece if the circles on the fabric on the right make sense because they relate to the Sun circle, that's good– and because they relate to the sun, they add interest on the right side of the composition without being distracting. If that fabric was another color - like maybe blue, which would be the complement of the orange sun–would it improve the piece? I tried it on for size in my imagination, and decided No. Because when I really looked, I saw that the color in the circle fabric is also in the background behind the sun - so it makes sense to continue onto the right side with that color. Thinking about whether anything could have been done differently that would enhance the piece you are studying deepens your insight into the decisions the artist made. It’s not uncommon to note where something COULD have been done differently that would make it better. Not every piece we make is perfect - far from it. So then that same attention and questioning is a good approach for our own work. It’s a self-critique that’s really helpful.