We usually consider balance as the equilibrium of various elements but if we talk about art and design, balance is a bit different. Yes, you read it right! In general, balance refers to the physical equilibrium of elements around a center point.
But what is balance in art? In art, balance allows the arrangement of elements in such a way that a sense of balance in the artwork is communicated to the viewer. However, in making sculptures, both physical and visual weight is determined to create balance!
Before going deep into the details of balance in art, its types, and the examples of radial balance, we will get to know what exactly balance in art is.
The use of artistic elements in the formation of artwork that evokes visual stability is known as the balance in art. It is very important to create balance in art so that one side of the painting does not look lighter or heavier than the other.
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Why Having Balance in Art is Important
If artwork is balanced and weight is evenly distributed among elements, it will not only look stable but will give a comfortable feeling to the person who views the artwork. On the other hand, if it is not balanced, the viewer will feel uneasy and the painting will create tension for him/her.
That is why it becomes necessary to create balance in your drawings so that they will look appealing to the eye. This visual weight is not measured using a scale but it is balanced on the axis on artwork that may be horizontal or vertical.
In the case of the horizontal axis, the visual elements are arranged from top to bottom whereas, in the vertical axis, visual elements are balanced on both sides of the axis.
There are various kinds of balance in art and their history regarding development and application in the artwork is as long as human history. In today’s post, we will discuss everything related to what is balance in art.
You will get to know why it is important to maintain balance in art and design. Plus, you will also discover the kinds of balance, the importance of color balance in art along with the examples of radial, symmetrical, and asymmetrical balance.
So, without further ado, let’s take a deep dive into this guide so that you can understand deeply about the concept of balance in art.
What Are The Kinds Of Balance In Art?
Do you know balance is the basic building block of art and contributes to an aesthetic touch of visual images? Yes, it is true. There are various kinds of balance in art. The most important ones are:
- Symmetrical Balance
- Radial Symmetry
- Asymmetrical Balance
Let’s take a closer look at these three kinds of balance and how we can manage all these kinds of balance in our artworks.
The symmetrical balance, also known as formal balance, is said to be the most common type of balance in which the two halves of an artwork mirror each other. In other words, the patterns of forms are repeated systematically.
In the case of applying symmetrical balance, both parts of the work are equal on the vertical and horizontal axis, looking identical or almost identical.
Through vertical and horizontal axis, not only the vertical balance is achieved but left to right balance is also achieved in symmetrically balanced artworks. It is used to create formality, and stability in the paintings.
The most common examples of symmetry are the human body, furniture, cars, clothes, etc. In the field of art and design, this type of balance is applied in secular and religious art and institutional architecture including the drawings of schools, colleges, universities, and government institutions.
Symmetrical balance can be further divided into subgroups. One type of symmetrical balance is the approximate symmetrical balance in which the elements do not mirror each other. Instead, they are similar in size and shape, keeping the consistency as well as coherency in the artwork.
This concept was used in early religious paintings. Inverted symmetrical balance is characterized by two halves of an artwork mirror each other along the horizontal axis. The only downside of symmetrical balance is that it is static and sometimes boring to look at.
In radial symmetry, the elements of art and design are arranged around a center point. It is also known as formal balance. It is found in many things. For example, you can see it in the spokes of a wheel.
In asymmetrical balance, various elements of art are characterized by different visual principles. These may be light and dark shades or full and empty spaces. Although weights on one side of the painting balance the weights on the other side they are not of the same color, texture, form, shape, or size.
The positive and negative shapes in the artwork are unevenly distributed in the artwork but provide the same comfortable feeling as achieved in the symmetry.
For example, the small elements are placed away from the large elements that are balanced on the other side of the painting.
Take an example of “The Starry Night” by a famous and influential Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. He made this landscape painting by his imagination as it reflects his observation of the countryside from his window.
This painting balances the elements on the left and right sides although the elements are completely different in shapes, color, size, etc. In The Starry Night, there are trees in the painting that are balanced by the moon.
This type of balance is also known as informal balance and it provides imaginative freedom and expressiveness to the artists. However, it is a bit more difficult to achieve than symmetrical balance and is less organized than symmetry.
It involves careful planning but it appears more casual than the symmetrical balance. Asymmetrical balance is more subjective than the other two kinds of balance and provides a great variety in the artwork.
Balance in art can be created by using some variables. These variables may act as a starting point for adding the concept of balance. The first variable is size.
How to create asymmetrical balance
To create balance, you may use a combination of large and small objects. Other variables are position, texture, and pattern, and color (which will be explained later in the article).
Note: It does not matter what type of balance you use in your drawings and paintings. Whether it is symmetry or asymmetrical balance, you need to use and manage the balance in your work. Select the best type of balance to use in your work based on your subject matter and the message you want to convey through your work.
What Is Color Balance In Art?
So, now you have come to know what is balance in art. To create balance in your artwork, you need to know about the color balance. Color balance is the process of adjusting the intensities of the colors particularly red, blue, and green to give neutral colors.
Color plays an important role in painting as it might be the first thing that a viewer notices. Value, saturation, hue, and temperature all are important to create color balance in the artwork. If you need to mix colors, the key principle of balance lies between warm and cool colors.
For example, dividing the solar spectrum roughly into half generates warm colors (red, yellow, and orange) on one side and cool colors (green, blue, and purple) on the other side.
The Four Characteristics of Balancing Color
There are four main characteristics of colors that may affect the visual weight in the artwork. If we talk about the value of colors, you can create color balance by using a blend of dark and light colors.
Considering the size, a small shape of dark color is balanced with a large shape of a lighter tone. The hue of color is determined by warm and cool colors. Color balance in the art can also be achieved by mixing more intense colors with neutral or dull colors and by combining opaque areas with transparent areas.
Note: What is balance in art? To answer this question, most artists deliberately create their paintings unbalanced to make them look unique and attractive. The best example of this is the sculpture of “Red Cube” that was made by one of the famous sculptors of the 20th century, Isamu Noguchi. The sculpture of Red Cube really looks off balance. It is red in color with white, black, and brown buildings around it. It is balanced on one corner with the opposite corner reaching towards the sky. This sculpture creates a feeling of imbalance and tension and makes the viewer uneasy.
What Object Is An Example Of Radial Balance?
As discussed earlier, radial balance is a type of balance in which elements radiate equally from a center point. Imagine a stone is tossed in the pond and the ripples are created. This creates a radial balance as the ripples radiate equally around the center.
The best example of radial balance is the famous “Rose Window of Notre Dame” which is considered as a great architectural accomplishment with a diameter of 33 feet. In this artwork, the individual sections of the window run equally outward around the center. If you draw a line through the center point, no matter if it is vertical or horizontal, the window will be divided into two equal parts.
Radial balance can also be applied in architecture. For example, the circular staircase. The center of the staircase provides a sense of stability and ease of mind. Another example of what is balance in art is Mandalas which is mostly used in Buddhist and Hindu artworks.
What Object Is An Example Of The Other Types Of Balance?
In symmetrical balance artworks, the design is made in such a way that similar parts face each other around the center point. Symmetrical balance can be applied in the art with the help of colors. Imagine a painting of landscapes with a blend of blue, black, and purple colors all over the painting.
Another example of what is balance in art is a popular painting called “Wooded Landscape with Watermill” made by Meindert Hobbema. This art composition is unified with different tones of green, blue, and orange. Moreover, there is a small area of warm color (red jacket) balanced with a larger area of cool colors.
Painting with the reflection of the bridge shown in the water is also an example of symmetrical balance as it allows the eye to read the painting from left to right or right to left.
On the other hand, in asymmetrical artworks, there is a lack of symmetry. How? Because the elements do not correspond to one another in terms of size, shape, and arrangement.
Imagine a painting with colors and lights on one side with the focal point of the motorcycle on the other side to create balance.
Asymmetrical balance can also be achieved if you place a visual object of more weight on one side and smaller objects of less weight on the other side. In this way, the composition is completely balanced.
The best example of asymmetrical balance is the paintings by the famous Italian painter Caravaggio. In his painting “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas”, there is Jesus on the left side and three men on the right side. These three men are balanced with Jesus on the left side because Jesus is in bright light whereas the men are in shadow.
Balance can be applied to many things. For example, as children, we learn to balance ourselves. As we grow up, we keep balancing different objects. At times, we balance our bodies to ride a bicycle and at times, we have a feeling of visual balance in our minds while arranging the furniture, landscaping the lawns, or in the most important task: creating the artwork.
Along with unity, emphasis, rhythm, contrast, pattern, movement, variety, and proportion, balance is said to be the basic principle of art and design that deals heavily with composition. It involves the reconciliation of opposing forces so that equilibrium can be achieved in art. It is a crucial art principle that without it, your whole artwork will fall.
We hope that now you have come to know what is balance in art. As an artist, it is important to create balanced compositions but before that, it is crucial to consider what balance communicates to the viewers.
Remember, an artwork without a balance is not always wrong. At times, it is appropriate to create an imbalance in art, for example, depicting a war scene or certain type of uncertainty in the painting.
Question of the Day: What are the four characteristics of color balance?