|Claude Monet "Woman with a Parasol" 1875|
Member of Impressionist Movement
One of these conventions that is not itself a principle tells us never to place an area of interest in the center of a painting. This convention can be successfully defied by an artist who understands the principle of balance. Balance is a law of the physics with respect to equilibrium: elements visually heavier on one side will overpower lighter weighted elements on the other.
One way to defy the "never center" convention is to use symmetrical balance which makes one side of an art work a mirror image of the other. Painter Georgia O'Keefe employed this principle in her painting, "Cow's Skull: Red, White and Blue" and Leonardo da Vinci used in in his "The Last Supper."
|Georgia O'Keefe "Cow's Skull: Red, White & Blue" 1931|
|Leonardo da Vinci "The Last Supper" Circa 1495|
Another method for defying the convention of "never center" is to use radial balance where elements circle around a central area. Henri Matisse used this principle in his painting, "Dance I" and Albrecht Durer used it in his etching, "The Lamentation"
|Henri Matisse "Dance I" 1909|
|Albrecht Durer "The Lamentation" 1513|
Winslow Homer uses this tactic in his painting, “The Herring Net.” Even though the event is right in the middle of the canvas, our eyes are drawn away from the center by the fish in the net on the lower right, the light reflecting on the water on the right side, angles of the oars, and the weight of the fellow hanging onto the front left of the boat. And boats in the distance as well as the floating barrel in front help distribute the visual weight away from the center of the format.
|Winslow Homer "The Herring Net: 1885|
|Mary Whyte "Red" 2008|