Form of oblong: parallel and perspective lines. Crosshatching.

Cone: diagonal line shading.

Drawing Gericault

POSITIVE COMPOSITION Shape as an underlying compositional device is extremely important. In this example, after Malevich, shape is used to bring a sense of order, balance, rhythm, harmony, movement and space to the picture plane. We see the bones of the composition that any great picture has as its structure. We can compare this drawing to Gericault's Raft of the Medusa.

Both have an underlying triangle that appears to pull the eye upwards to the top edge of the picture plane. This triangle is the base on which the rest of the picture hangs and the device that holds it together. All activity in the picture revolves around this basic structure and helps to move our eye through the picture plane from bottom to top, and back and forth.

Playing with composition

Line creates a shape.

Line creates a shape.

Shape overlapping shape creates space.

Tone emphasises space.

Tone emphasises space.

Gericault Drawings


As our eye moves upwards, we get a feeling of hope and lightness, while down at the bottom of the picture plane we are seized by a sense of falling and despair. Note also a sense of space that gives the illusion of movement through the picture plane. This is created by scale and weight of mark. The space is constructed by overlapping shapes to create distance.

This drawing, after Miro, gives us a completely different feeling from the Malevich. The composition is based on the organic flow of shapes. There is more fantasy, almost a dreamlike quality. The organic shapes and the sense of texture suggest that the picture is growing and expanding before our eyes.

Miro 39


With the Malevich and Miro copies, we have been looking at examples of positive composition, drawing shapes of objects we have in mind and placing them to create an effect. A different way of understanding shape is to draw the space around the positive. This is called the negative space, and is a very effective way of creating relationships between objects in a drawing.

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