The Positive and Negative Space of a Big, Bold K

project 2 - shape relationships

For project #2 in my class, we had to create a 3-panel project. The first panel was a 10-inch tall serif letter — I chose a K — arranged in a 6×9-inch panel. The panel #2 was an arrangement of the negative space from panel #1. Panel #3 was a combination of panels #1 and #2, and had to show overlap, transparency and division between the shapes, using black, white and two colors of gray.

Since we had to do the project by hand, cutting the shapes out of Canson paper, I decided to keep things at least relatively simple by choosing a shape with straight lines. I figured I’d have enough to worry about in panel #3 without having to deal with matching up curved edges. Panels #1 and #2 came together pretty easily, though I did try out many formations for panel #2 before deciding on this one.

As expected, panel #3 was much more difficult. I started by cutting out all the shapes out of all 3 colored papers and started trying to piece together the composition like a puzzle. I quickly realized that I needed to do some more planning if I were going to achieve things like the transparencies properly. I also realized that I needed to really focus on the shape relationships first, so I could complete the assignment, and then worry about tweaking the entire composition to feel more balanced and interesting. The final composition ended up looking so straightforward — like such an obvious combination of panels #1 and #2 — that it really betrays how difficult it was to do.

Last night in class I started to worry that my composition didn’t look anything like the other students’. Almost all had chosen letters with lots of curves and with lots of negative space. There were some some very strong compositions for #3 that didn’t use anywhere near as much white space as I did and had many more intersections between the various shapes. I’m always amazed at how completely different interpretations of the same assignment can be.

When it came time for my critique, though, my piece was really well received. It was pointed out that it was sort of an obvious solution, but it did clearly show transparency, overlap and division with the shapes, and I received some nice compliments about it being well constructed and even looking digital (thank you, straight lines). I still can’t believe that I used only 2 colors of gray and black — there are some interesting optical illusions going on with how the values are perceived, especially in the light gray on light gray transparency with the bottom triangle.

Next week we’re doing a patterning exercise. I’ve already started on some mockups. It should be interesting. And I’m glad we can do it digitally since I’m off to Pittsburgh tonight until Monday, and I’ll be able to work on it while I’m there.

2 Responses to “The Positive and Negative Space of a Big, Bold K”

  1. Laura T. says:

    It’s fascinating to see your assignments since I’ve considered taking that class. Though, I wonder what it would be like to take it online. It seems like the critiques wouldn’t feel as meaningful, and for a project like this, a digital image wouldn’t really show the handmade quality. Perhaps the online assignments differ. Keep updating though–I love seeing your assignments and reading about the class!

  2. Francine says:

    Thanks, Laura! I definitely think there’s a lot of value to doing it in person rather than online, though I don’t know how the online course differs. It just seems it would be tougher to have the kind of interaction a classroom provides and really see everyone’s work and hear their comments. I wonder how the critiques work online, if they do a chat room/web conference sort of thing or something.

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