On September 18th our guest speaker was Marla Panko from the Carnegie Gallery. Ms. Panko told us that the fundamentals of visual language are like an alphabet or like musical notes. Even if we are not artists ourselves, we can learn to recognize this language. She said that we are desensitized by so much that we see, and that galleries are sanctuaries for our senses, safe houses for our visual legacy.
Examples of aspects of the visual language include color, shape, line, texture, etc. “Point and Line to Plane” by Kandinsky is a book that breaks down the elements of the visual language. Today Ms. Panko focused on composition, including balance, line, depth, unity, and focal points.
The most basic type of balance is symmetry, left/right or radial. Asymmetrical is when the balance is related to what is dissimilar in the image. Orientation and use of line is another aspect of the visual language. When a line is horizontal, for example to indicate the horizon, the image is at rest, calming, and implies an expanse of space. When a line is vertical, the image is active, shows a sense of power and thrusting up. Diagonal lines are dynamic. A diagonal line creates movement and sends your eye through the picture. Multiple diagonals create more movement and emotion. Lines also can divide or connect two halves of a composition.
Depth in pictures is an illusion; artists use linear perspective, scale, and modelling of form to create depth in images. Unity is how artists get everything to work together or hold together in an image: techniques for this include spatial tension and pyramidal structure. When a focal point is a zone, a central zone quiets the picture. Focal points at the edges or no focal point makes a meditative image.