Balance: Line & Life through Works on Paper

As one of the principles of art and design, balance refers to the overall distribution of visual weight in a composition. As a concept in life and landscape, balance also refers to the equilibrium amongst seasons, movements, and phases occurring in both definite and indefinite increments of time. 

The Armistead Gallery invites the viewer to imagine the picturesque and sublime through the lens of balance. These works on paper represent a century of artists working in photography, painting, and printmaking. Created in their specific eras of mechanical and technical advances, the landscapes draw forth balance as an aesthetic anchor to experience nature’s patterns, lines, and contrasting forms–exploring life and death, cycles and change. 

Childe Hassam, an artist represented at the PPIE, distorted the balance between built infrastructures in relation to nature through the dominating form of a house in his print The Old Mumford House. Balance is restored in Charles Surendorf’s linoleum engraving Road and Bridge, where the artist distributed equal space and detail between the fixed built structures of the bridge and road in relation to the growing trees and shrubs of the surrounding environment. Artists also explore balance through empty space. Stanely Truman’s photograph Solitude parallels Paul Hambleton Landacre’s print Campers, as both compositionally suggest an equal ratio of negative space and picture plane through the visual balance of sky and land. Consider how balance might appear through lines. David Maxim’s ink and graphite Landscape, Louis LaBrie’s lithograph Autumn, and Christopher Burkett’s Old Sequoia at Sunset all implement verticality through lines depicted to suggest and reference a living subject. 

How might angles, seasons, and phases of organic material convey and evoke a mood in the viewer? How might the limited color palettes, the dark lines to light space, and the repetition of patterns emulate mood through nature? Consider the positive filled space in relation to the negative empty space. How do the knarls of Beatrice Berlin’s unrooted horizontal trunk in Metamorphosis balance with Roi Partridge’s vertically standing oak in Live Oak and Orange? How might these contrasting subjects of the dead to the living evoke the sublime to the picturesque?  


Aesthetic Forces

All images are subject to the copyright of Saint Mary's College Museum of Art Permanent Collection