Symmetry and Balance (Student)
Shaping the View: Symmetry and Balance
1. Mirror, Mirror: Symmetry in Painting
In this lesson you are going to be learning about -- and learning how to identify -- symmetry. Begin by looking at the following painting: Bergognone’s The Assumption of the Virgin
Now take a look at the following painting by the American artist Thomas Hart Benton: Trail Riders
Work together with your group to identify similar objects and figures within the composition. Print out the line drawing of the painting and mark the similar objects on the print out. Then answer the following questions:
- How do these similar objects relate to one another within the composition?
- Are they on opposite sides of the painting? The same side?
- Where are those objects in relation to the center of the painting?
- Does the painting exhibit elements of symmetry? Explain your answer using examples from the image
Now, take a look at this painting by Hendrick Avercamp:
Scene with a Tower to the Left
Work together with your group to identify similar objects and figures in the composition of this painting. Print out the line drawing of this painting and mark those objects on the print out. Then work with your group to answer the following question:
Does the painting exhibit elements of symmetry? Explain your answer by identifying and describing areas of the work that contain symmetry.
2. Balancing Acts
Begin by taking a look at this painting by Cima de Conegliano:
Madonna and Child with Saint Jerome and Saint John the Baptist
This image will look familiar if you have already completed the first lesson of the curriculum unit on composition in the arts. Print out the line drawing of de Conegliano’s painting and mark the focal point of the painting as well as the compositional shape of this image. Work together with your group to answer the following questions:
- Do you see an overall shape within the composition? Explain with shape or shapes you see and where important figures, objects, or elements are placed within the composition. Be sure to mark the shape and the objects or figures on your print out.
- Why do you think the artist has placed the important components of the composition where he has placed them?
- What elements of symmetry can you find in the image? Explain your answer using examples.
Discuss your answers with the other groups in the class. Then return to the image for another examination. Work together to answer the following questions:
- Is this image balanced?
- How is it balanced? Explain your answer using examples from the painting.
Now, take a look at the following painting by Hendrick Avercamp:
Scene with a Tower to the Left
This image should also look familiar, since you just saw it in the previous activity. The first time you looked at this image you were asked to look for symmetry. Now you are going to see whether or not this is a symmetrically balanced painting. First, print out the line drawing of this image and mark all the similar objects. Work together with your group to answer the following questions:
- Is this painting symmetrical?
- Are each of the paired objects weighted the same?
- Is this painting symmetrically balanced? Explain your answer using examples.