Balance is central to artistic expression. Artists—painters, sculptors, designers, composers, photographers, writers, directors, choreographers, film makers, dancers, performers, conductors—use balance to create a compositional impact on the overall feeling of a completed work of art.
When creating or performing, artists work with their judgment, make associations, and determine how to direct the viewer’s or listener’s eye or ear or both. They use composition to set the stage: to determine how visual or aural lines, colors, textures, shape, values, position, and weight will lead to important areas that will hold attention and lead the eye and/or ear to another part of the work.
Balance is a skill that everyone encounters or uses in nearly every moment of every day.
- Have you balanced your checkbook?
- Can you stand, walk, or run with skill and stability?
- What is the difference in magnitude between opposing forces or influences in your life?
Learning about the concept of balance through the elements of artistic expression helps you recognize that there is more than one way to achieve it. Whether we think about it or not, balance is a gauge—both real and imagined—by which we weigh things that affect every aspect of our lives. Composing your life is an intuitive act just as it is for artists creating their art. It’s different for everyone.
Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.
~ Thomas Merton
In a work of art, the elements can be manipulated to create a sense of symmetry or asymmetry that supports the overall essence of the artistic expression. Depending on how each element is used, it has a strong or weak sense in relation to the whole and gives you a sense of stability and movement through seeing or feeling or both. The elements work together to produce an overall sense of harmony.
What I dream of is an art of balance.
~ Henri Matisse
The principle of balance is in everything you do. The distribution of various internal and external elements in family life, personal relationships, teaching environments, leadership, or work is central to your existence as a human being. When you experiment with symmetry and asymmetry, you can begin to experience how to create your life in its entirety. Whether the parts are the same or disproportionate in relationship with different weights, creative tension occurs where they meet. At this meeting point, they are separate and held together as one because, even though they might be of different weight values, if done with the principles of artistic expression, they have the feeling of balance.
Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other.
~ Steven R. Covey
One person’s idea of balance may not in the least bit resemble another’s perspective. It’s not that one way is better than the other; but whichever way you choose to create the overall harmony of your life has an impact on the feeling of your life as a whole. Do you have a handle on the various elements in your life? Do you enjoy the feeling you achieve with the way you’ve put things together?