Courses Perceptual Studies page 7


Initially, students were asked to put the simple and complex shapes and applications (leaves, fruits, vegetables, etc.) on separate boards. For two years, students were instructed to put the theoretical flat shape and leaf on the same board. This is the same with the complex shape and fruit or vegetable. I finally decided that it worked best to put each on separate boards. In comparison to the refinement problems up to this point, these are demonstration problems and not as much time is used as on refinement problems. It helps the student to better understand theory application through doing them. Students tend to think they are doing something different and forget the criteria from previous exercises. The teacher must emphasize the previous criteria.


Flat Shape
Design a simple flat abstract shape which is unbiased (wide as it is high). Students can use one point. The objective is a simple, elegant shape. Line quality is critical to success with the simple shape. Criteria are proportion, tension curves and line quality. The problem can begin with unbiased geometric shapes such as a two and one-half to three inch circle or square, and modifications.


Typical Criticisms
) The shape is wider than it is high. They should be unbiased!
) Not enough tension in the lines.
) Look where the point is directed. Put the point into opposition with the line on the other side.
) These two lines are too similar. One of them needs to be changed.
) Concave lines are particularly difficult to use on this problem unless they have real tension.
) Look at the relationship of the shape to the bottom edge of the board. By putting the flat curve on the bottom, it is nearly parallel to the bottom edge.
) Rotate the shape until you ind the visually most interesting position.
) Try flopping the shape and see what happens.


The design is to be visually centered and done in black plaka on a 10-inch square board. Just recently, I have become aware that students also require instruction in how to visually place the shapes on a 10-inch square. Formerly, I required the student do a marker fill-in on tracing paper, cut it out and position it and then run it by me until I gave them the okay to put it on board and plaka the image. Students first of all did not know how to visually center the image, leaving slightly more white at the bottom than at the top, with sides appearing equal. This is visual centering and not a mechanical or measured centering.


Complex Shape with the Illusion of Dimension
Design a complex abstract shape which is unbiased that suggests dimensionality. Students had difficulty understanding the problem objective and floundered about. When one student found a solution, invariably all the other students would do variations of that approach. In recent years, I have found the best way to accomplish this demonstration problem in the shortest amount of time with the greatest variety of solutions is to have the students fold a 6 x 2 1/2 or 3 inch strip of paper twice (one fold at a right angle and the other fold is the student’s choice), and for them to draw it. The first studies are done in pencil with all lines drawn through to properly establish the reference points that create an illusion of dimensionality. There should be concern for the quality of shape, and that the dimensionality is obvious when filled in with black plaka on the 10-inch square board.


Typical Criticisms
) Try rotating the shape and ind the angle that best presents the shape.
) Try setting the shape on its most pointed line so it is oppositional to the straight horizontal line of the bottom edge.
) You will not get the illusion of dimensionality with concave lines or curves. Rely on the points.
) Try drawing the shape with pencil and draw through the shapes to accurately place the reference points.
) The scale of elements is too similar. Vary the sizes and shapes.
) The shape is much longer than it is high.
) Watch the direction of the points, and vary the size and angle of the points.


Draw four 10-inch squares on tracing paper, and do a marker fill-in of the shape in different rotations. When the best placement is determined, visually center the image on a 10-inch board and paint in with black plaka.



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Student example of flat shape exercise

Flat Shape: Abstract
(more examples)


Student example of dimensional shape exercise


Student example of dimensional shape exercise

Dimensional Shape: Folded Paper
(more examples)


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