Lesson 2: Symmetry and Balance

Artists often structure their compositions in particular ways in order to convey a sense of harmony in the picture. How do artists go about communicating stability and equilibrium through the organization of their paintings? Why might an artist choose to structure a painting in a way that conveys an asymetrical impression? In this lesson students will be investigating the use of symmetry and balance in painting, and how it is used by artists to convey information about the contents of the painting.

Students will use the viewing experiences of the activities in the first lesson of this curriculum unit, Composition Basics as the basis for discussing some additional compositional techniques found in the images in this activity. The activities in this lesson provide a brief overview of a few techniques used by artists to guide their audience through their paintings. Some of these examples overlap with other important elements that students should be aware of when viewing works of art, such as color and line.

Guiding Questions

What are symmetry and balance, and how do they affect works of art?

Learning Objectives

Identify symmetry and balance in the composition of a variety of art works, and how these elements work to make the painting successful as a painting

Explain how the artist's use of symmetry and balance work to guide the viewer's eye to important components of the image

Discuss ways in which the use of symmetry and balance within a painting affects the tone of the painting, or communicates information or emotional content to the viewer