I’ve been reading a lot about abstract painting lately.
And one thing I’ve learned about are all the different design formats.
I guess I’d always just assumed abstract painting didn’t follow any. It sounds silly to me now that I’m typing these words, but until now I guess I just thought these paintings ‘happened’. They look so spontaneous and effortless.
Just to give you an idea how many different design formats there are…
- Symmetrically balanced
- Asymmetrically balanced
- ‘L” designed
- ECC designed (Expansion, Compaction, and Containment)
- Axial Hold format
- Directional format
- Shapes within Shapes
- The Golden Mean
- T-Square format
- Opposing Forces format
- Overlapping shapes
- Constellation format
- The “H” format
- The Bridge format
and I’m sure there are more.
I found this information in the VERY helpful and informative book, ‘Exploring the Abstract: An Instructional Journey’, by Joan Blackburn. A great book to have on hand if you’re even slightly interested in learning about abstract painting. I highly recommend it.
The images I’ve attached above are simple cruciform format paintings. I find this format a really easy one to start. Simply place a loose cross-shape on your paper or canvas, preferably off-center and distorted a bit and…begin. You don’t have to stick with this composition – you can let your painting evolve after you’ve begun …but it sure is an easy way to cover up that stark, white canvas in the beginning. And it makes for a really easy format to follow – as it isn’t too complicated.
Jane Davies talks about the cruciform composition on her site: She says that the areas that form the arms of the cross are generally busy, whereas the four quadrants are relatively quiet.
The last image I’ve attached shows it the best.