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Design Principles in Abstract Art

Wed, Jan 4, 2006

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Any type of design today must look good aesthetically and be functional. What do we mean by “look good”? It simply means that the design cannot be too common and boring. Functional means that it must be easily understood and usable. This article is a description of my attempt to try to combine chaos and pattern into a piece of artwork.

“House of Colours” is a personal project I did a few years ago during my free time. I wanted to combine the ideas of water flow, mountain and earth into an abstract piece of art. Created using Crayon, Color Pencil, Gouache, Paper Cutouts and Magic Ink, the final work is A3 mounted and measures 32cm by 32cm. The concept and design principles covered in this article should be helpful in designing web pages as well.

Other than using mother nature as the main theme, I also used different design principles and mediums to make the design unique.

I used a variation of blue, brown and green to represent nature. A curvy line is drawn around the square to represent completeness and unity of land. There are also isolated islands around the pool of colourful waters. The white square with a thick black border in the middle represents a change in the design. Using only black and white, the house in the middle stands out strongly, giving the design a focal point.

Different Graphic Design Principles are used to strengthen the visuals. As you can see, figure ground is used extensively to provide a contrast of colors and shapes. Collages are also used to enhanced the complexity of the design. I purposely coloured parts of the water with inconsistent strokes of crayon so that it looks abit like kid’s work.This is to represent the imperfection of nature and I want to convey that idea in this design. Other than the magic inked house in the middle, the rest of my gauche strokes were imperfect as well.

Lines and curves are used extensively in the design. To me, straight lines represent princples, rigidity and logic while curves represent creativity and flexibility. I feel that to be successful in what ever we do, we need to follow strict routines or discipline (lines) but yet able to inject creativity, humour and make flexible changes (Curves). This is like trying to unite “Form” and “Function” in the art of web design.

Symmetry is everywhere in the universe. As you can see, I used alot of symmetry in this work to prevent the art from becoming too abstract. People want to know what is going on with things around them and symmetry provides a recognizable clue.

To me, a strong design combines creativity and logic. In other words, there should be observable pattern in chaos and vice versa. If something is too abstract, people do not understand it and lose interest easily. On the other hand, if something is too easily recognized, people do not feel challenged and will not probed further. I feel that “House of Colours” is somewhere in between and should be able to entertain people visually, I hoped.

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