Striving for Unity

A painting that has it all together is said to be a unified painting. Unity is defined as being as one or whole. A unified painting is well balanced in all elements and all parts of the painting. Every element is necessary, and if something were taken away, it would be missed.

To determine whether a painting has unity, mentally divide it into quarters by drawing center lines vertically and horizontally. Now imagine separating the quadrants and see whether the four separate pieces look as if they belong together. If the pieces were tossed together with the quarters from three other paintings, would you be able to tell which pieces go together? If you can answer yes, you're looking at a unified painting.

To achieve unity within a painting, you need something from the top to be found in the bottom and something from the bottom should be in the top. If you're working on a landscape, put some of the foreground color in the sky, and put a little sky color in the shadows of the foreground. One element in only one area is alien. Use repetition. Also look from side to side. If you have a green tree on one side, you need a little green somewhere on the other side.

Figure 6-15 shows a painting with a horizon in the middle. On the top is sky of blue. On the bottom is amber-colored grass with one alien green tree in the lower-left quadrant. If this painting were divided into quarters, you might be able to find the two halves, but nothing from the top relates to the bottom — nothing indicates that the halves belong together. This painting hasn't achieved unity.

Figure 6-15:

An un-unified painting doesn't hang together.

Figure 6-15 shows a painting with a horizon in the middle. On the top is sky of blue. On the bottom is amber-colored grass with one alien green tree in the lower-left quadrant. If this painting were divided into quarters, you might be able to find the two halves, but nothing from the top relates to the bottom — nothing indicates that the halves belong together. This painting hasn't achieved unity.

To unify this painting, repeat the color of the grass in the clouds, and introduce some of the sky color into some of the shadows in the grass. Repeat the green in some other area so it's no longer just in one spot. The four quarters of the painting in Figure 6-16 now look like they came from the same painting.

Figure 6-16:

A little repetition goes a long way in making a painting unified.

Figure 6-16:

A little repetition goes a long way in making a painting unified.

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