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ESSENCE

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					t h e                                                                                          by Chris A. Paschke, CPF, GCF



ESSENCE                                                     o        f                  d        e        s        i        g        n
                                                                                                                    PART
                                                                                                                    V I I :
                                                                                                                    SPACE
       read an interesting commentary on the Internet the                 Space

I      other day which stated, “Anyone can be made
       aware of basic color and design elements and prin-
ciples, and from there it is a matter of making the
                                                                          This month, the topic is Space. Truly understanding
                                                                          space will better prepare the designer to utilize it in
                                                                          framing design and when applying the factors of pro-
framer’s sense of aesthetics more sophisticated.” There                   portion, emphasis, and balance. Space is the distance
was also reference to a comment of mine about limiting                    around, or between, items used to unify or highlight an
the number of elements in relation to better controlling                  image. All physical things exist in space. Space envelops
a design while learning and achieving greater sophistica-                 us completely, but its reality is in the forms that give it
tion. Both of these statements are true.                                  definition, as in the use of mats and frames.
      In this “Essence of Design” series, I address the                        While space is defined as a measurable distance
depths of design from an academic standpoint, and yes,                    between pre-established points, two-dimensional space
it is up to each individual                                                                           only involves length and
to better understand                                                                                  breadth, three-dimensional
these principles and to                                                                               space adds depth, and four-
put them to proper use.                                                                               dimensional space adds time or
It seems that we educa-                                                                               motion. Visual design is active-
tors agree that knowing                                                                               ly concerned with three specific
the basics is only the                                                                                types of space: pictorial, illu-
beginning, and that com-                                                                              sionistic, and actual.
paring, studying, analyz-
ing, and critiquing com-                                                                              Pictorial Space
pleted frame designs may                                                                              Design relating to a flat sur-
be an integral part to                                                                                face, such as a cutout paper sil-
becoming a better frame                                                                               houette is known as pictorial
designer.                                                                                             space (see Photo 1). Although
      I have stated many                                                                              there appear to be no borders,
times that it remains the                                                                             the design is contained within
job of the framer to                                                                                  obvious dimensions. This type
enhance and protect the                                                                               of decorative spatial concept
art, and to never sacrifice                                                                           involves two-dimensional
the dignity of the art for                                                                            images, or those in which a
a flashy design. The art                                                                              picture has height and width
must always remain the                                                                                but no depth. Space then exists
focal point—the first                                                                                 across a plane rather than in it.
thing that is recognized                                                                                   Pictorial space is concerned
and visually explored by                                                                              with shapes and space interact-
the viewer. This will be                                                                              ing on a flat surface with no
                               Photo 1: The Chinese paper cut silhouette is a perfect example of two-
further explored in            dimensional pictorial space, limited only to height and width, with no implied depth. Cut paper sil-
Part X: Emphasis.              depth or thickness.                                                    houettes, stencils, and flat wood-
34 PFM _ February 2001
block prints are good examples of                                                                       items close up are sharp, with a
pure, pictorial, two-dimensional                                                                        loss of definition through hazy
space. These types of images are                                                                        shapes, indistinct lines, and
commonly found as patterns on                                                                           grayed values for distance. Van-
fabric, decorative marbled papers,                                                                      ishing points are a mathemati-
panels, wallpaper, and borders.                                                                         cal system for creating a three-
                                                                                                        dimensional space on a two-
Illusionistic Space                                                                                     dimensional surface, as exem-
When the concept of depth                                                                               plified by a set of disappearing
must be achieved, multiple                                                                              railroad tracks. The western
planes are established through                                                                          approach to linear perspective
techniques of overlapping, layer-                                                                       involves the closing of spaces as
ing, size, and perspective. These                                                                       images fade into the distance,
plastic spatial concepts (also                                                                          away from the viewer.
called illusionistic space) are                                                                               The Asian approach
those dealing with three-dimen-                                                                         involves inverse perspective
sional images in relatively two-                                                                        which establishes the viewer as
dimensional presentations. It is                                                                        the vanishing point. This creates
the establishment of creating one                                                                       more spatial freedom (or open-
vertical plane behind another.                                                                          ness) moving outward from the
     Ancient Egyptian art uti-       Photo 2: Egyptian and Meso-American art are examples of art through the use of layering
                                     overlapping techniques used in illusionistic space by layering
lized pure overlapping to estab- vertical planes in order to establish depth.                           and size variations. In this case,
lish depth (see Photo 2). Pale-                                                                         the objects closest to the viewer
olithic cave drawings, Meso-                                                                            are larger and located in front of
american wall paintings, tapes-                                                                        other shapes.
tries, and banners also often used                                                                           Size is best visually deter-
this form of depth dimension.                                                                          mined in these paintings by
     Layering was also used to                                                                         actual size ratio. If a mountain is
establish distance by making the                                                                       to be 10 feet high, the trees will
lower edges of a work appear to                                                                        be one foot, a horse one inch,
be closest to the viewer while the                                                                     the man a size of a bean.
top edges appeared to be furthest                                                                            Subcategories of illusionistic
away. This is commonly seen in                                                                         space include shallow space, in
Asian paintings and by Persian        Diagram 1: Shallow space features three-dimensionality with a which a three-dimensional con-
                                      specific depth limitation. Shadow boxes best represent this type
artists in both paintings and         of illusionistic space.                                          cept is embraced but there is a
illuminated manuscripts.                                                                               total depth limitation (see Dia-
     Size is also used in conjunction with the above                     gram 1), and infinite or deep space, in which images
mentioned layering techniques for establishing distance.                 appear to continue on endlessly. A shadow box would fall
Most often, the larger an image is in size, the closer it                into the category of shallow or limited space. A picture
appears to the viewer. By establishing the horizon line as               frame, however, can act as a window through which one
an eye level reference point, the farther down or lower                  sees an ongoing recession of dimensional images often cre-
in the picture window, the nearer the item will appear.                  ating the illusion of infinite space.
The higher in the window, the farther away (position or                       Period hunt prints and landscapes utilize a two-dimen-
vertical location).                                                      sional pictorial concept in which the illusion of three-
     Linear perspective, established during the 15th cen-                dimensional space has the quality of endlessness found in
tury, first utilized vanishing points to create the illusion             nature. Most art for framing deals with illusionistic space,
of diminishing details and converging parallels as a                     as two-dimensional images which create a visual illusion of
depiction of space. Diminishing detail simply means that                 depth and space meant to give the feeling of three-dimen-
                                                                                                                  February 2001_ PFM 35
sionality. As framers, we need to be                                                           Space and Line
aware of the types of depth to                                                                 The physical properties of a line
maintain a continuity in design                                                                contain other spatial ingredients.
between art and frame package.                                                                 They may be long or short, thick
                                                                                               or thin, straight, angular, curved,
Actual Space                                                                                   on different spatial planes, or
Pictorial space only implies space                                                             placed in contrast to one anoth-
on a flat surface through positives                                                            er. A long, thick line will appear
and negatives but with no depth.                                                               larger and closer to the viewer
Illusionistic space creates the                                                                than a short, thin line. A diago-
three-dimensional sense of space                                                                nal line may appear to transcend
                                             3a: This is             layered
by adding depth through various Photoheat appliedan 8"x 8" in a fauxframedetch design.
                                      with                 laminate            glass
                                                                                       mirror accented
                                                                                                planes, while vertical or horizon-
artistic techniques. Actual space                                                               tal lines may feel more static.
relates specifically to three-dimen-                                                                 A wide v-groove placed on
sional items where space is real                                                               the inside of a narrow v-groove
and tangible. It concerns itself                                                               will visually vie for dominance,
with artworks such as pottery,                                                                 and ultimately distract the view-
jewelry, sculpture, family memen-                                                              er from the artwork. It works as
tos, and other special objects.                                                                a barrier. When a double v-
     How does all this relate to                                                               groove design is used around a
framing and when does it become                                                                window opening, the wider of
an element to be counted? The                                                                  the two should be placed farther
very essence of framing calls for                                                              to the outside away from the
the layering of glass, mats, fillets,                                                           window.
                                      Photo 3b (detail): A mirror is placed behind two sheets of
and spacers. Spacers are used to      faux glass etched designs three-dimensionally spaced apart
create the illusion of depth in a     using black spacers. Space will be a countable element in Space and Color
                                      this project as it is an integral part of the visual creation.
physical way—the reality of                                                                            Prior to the days of Paul
three-dimensionality through actual space. An area                        Cézanne in the late 19th century, deep space was con-
(actual three-dimensional space) is shaped into a room                    sidered to begin with the level of the picture plane, then
by the enclosing planes or walls. Likewise, the area with-                recede from it. Today, color is used to address spaces in
in a frame creates a specific three-dimensional space, but                front of the picture or frame plane. Analogous colors
that is the “given.” A design must be taken one step fur-                 (three or four neighboring colors on the color wheel)
ther for space to become a countable element. A good                      create spatial movement while contrasting colors provide
example is the faux etched mirror which uses two sets of                  accents or focal emphasis (see Diagram 2). The wider a
spacers to create physical depth using actual space (see                  v-groove line, the lighter the color should be to avoid
Photos 3a and 3b).                                                        visual distraction.


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                                                              RSC #76
36 PFM _ February 2001
Space and
Texture                                                     Red
                                                                     Red-
The interesting thing about
                                                                     Violet
textures is their impact on
                                                                            Violet
spatial depth and placement.
Sharp, clear, bold textures
will appear to advance, while                                           Blue-Violet
fuzzy, dull, or minuscule tex-
tures recede. Care must be
                                           Y                                  B
taken when integrating tex-
tural matting of both visual
and tactile nature. If a tex-
tured fabric mat is chosen as
                                     Diagram 2: Analogous colors are three or four colors in
a liner, it should not com-          adjacent proximity on the color wheel, and in which one
pete with the                        color dominates the group.
colors and
textures of the
top or surface
mat. If a liner
is meant to
enhance and
recede, a bold,
primary-col-
ored, large,
open weave,
canvas-            Photo 4: Space is not a counted element when shape is featured in a wall
                   grouping                                and use of horizontals will
wrapped mat groupings presentation. Common linesbetween maintain individuality. hold
                             together while even spaces
will not
recede enough to be secondary in                  showcase the art by controlling all
the design.                                       positive and negative spaces. Using
                                                  multiple opening mats can create
Space and Shape                                   situations where combined shapes
When considering space in the cre-                reveal large empty spaces or poten-
ation of artwork, the concept                     tially distracting voids. An example
encompasses two- and three-                       would be an oval within a rectangle
dimensionality within the image.                  (as seen on the far right in Diagram
When relating space to picture                    3). These may be controlled by
framing, it deals with the shape                  adding subtle surface decoration or
and proportions of mats and                       additional cutouts (as seen on the
frames, placement of three-dimen-                 far left and center in Diagram 3).
sional objects within the frame,
and frame design and decoration.                  Positive and
     This is most often addressed                 Negative Space
within either a shadow box or a                   The area or space in which objects
multiple opening frame, and the                   or images exist is called positive
key is to relate all objects, allow for           space. There is also negative space.
smooth visual transition, and to                  This may be the distance, void, or

38 PFM _ February 2001
interval between things                                                                                         intensity. Generally, the
akin to moments of                                                                                              only time that space will be
silence in music, a pause                                                                                       recognized in framing is
in speech, or the blank                                                                                         with multiple opening
mat area between multi-                                                                                         mats, shadow boxes,
ple openings. Positive and                                                                                      extremes in accented bor-
negative spaces are equal-                                                                                       der width, or framed wall
ly important in the lay-       Diagram 3: An oval or circle window within a rectangular mat is a common groupings. They all utilize
                               problem when dealing with distracting negative spaces as a result of shape.
out and visual unity of a                                                                                        space in quite a dramatic
design or grouping.                           (intensity), and has a color which is                              way to achieve a particular
      We are probably most aware of           variable. Often, space appears to be                  design response or end result.
space when arranging wall group-              more of an application (a factor) than                     Space is not a countable element
ings (see Photo 4). The negative              an actual tool (an element) because it                when shape or proportion have been
spaces between the frames, or                 can involve so many of the other                      recognized for the same reason. It
objects within a frame, should                basic elements, but it remains every                  must be consciously noted and
remain constant in order to establish         bit as important and independent.                     counted when it is an integral part of
a rhythm and pattern. By concen-                    Line directs the eye around the                 the design as in the faux glass etched
trating on alignment and negative             interior of a frame and, as we have                   photo sample, or an oval window in
spaces between the frames, visual             explored, all types of lines create                   a rectangular mat using no negative
unity can be achieved. The same is            individual spatial relationships. A                   space decoration.
true with a shadow box showcasing             ruling pen line is an example of two-                      Recognize the elements that
numerous items. The spaces                    dimensional pictorial space and is                    shout and praise the ones that whis-
between items are every bit as                not recognized as a space element. A                  per... as good use of design principles.
important as the items themselves.            v-groove line, though physically                      In April, I will unfold the, “Rhythm
                                              three-dimensional use of actual                       of the Design,” as the interplay
Space Within Fram-                            space, also would still count only as a               between art and its framing contin-
ing                                           line element.                                         ues to progress to unified design. ■
If all things exist in space, we must               A surface marble paper strip
expect them to move about within              (line) contrasts with a botanical print
it. A picture frame is generally rec-         differently than a deep bevel wrap
tangular in shape, has edges which            using the same marble paper would.
can be interpreted as lines, exists in        The second example adds depth,
space, has a relatively smooth tex-           contrast, and potential shadows
ture, can be seen only in light values        which also introduce the use of




40 PFM _ February 2001

				
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