Grade: Senior
Subject: Art

#1758. Patterns & Balance

Art, level: Senior
Posted Tue May 9 17:11:03 PDT 2000 by L. Cardamon (
East High School, Waterloo, IA

"Seeing Patterns & Patterns with Variety"
(Symmetrical Balance & Asymmetrical Balance)

Practice Activities & Instructional Strategies

Software and Hardware needed:
Better Photography: Learning to See Creatively (DiAMAR Interactive Corp.)
Digital camera, computer with software and capability to display digital images

Lesson Design

1. Anticipatory Set

Pass out a set of photographs with obvious examples of geometric shapes (or objects) creating patterns in a very regular and systematic manner; e.g.; brick walls, venetian blinds, wallpaper patterns. Make no judgmental comments.
Follow these with a set of photographs showing the same or very similar shapes (objects) in irregular patterns (an asymmetrical arrangement); situations where the regularity has been interrupted, showing variety or emphasis.

2. Objective(s) and Purpose

Compare and contrast the difference in the two sets of images. Discuss the visual interest in the first set and the different visual interest created in the second set of prints. Familiarize students with the two types of balance. Symmetrical is "the organization of the parts of a composition so that one side duplicates or mirrors the other" (Hobbs, Salome, 1995). Asymmetrical is "a feeling of balance attained when the visual units on either side of a vertical axis are actually different but are placed in the composition to create a 'felt' balance of the total artwork" (Hobbs, et al.)
Create a definition for 'variety' and 'emphasis'. Variety is defined as "a principle of design concerned with the inclusion of differences in the elements of a composition to offset unity and make the work more interesting" (Hobbs, et al.) Emphasis, or dominance is when " element, or a combination of elements, attracts more attention than anything else in a composition. (This) dominant element is usually a focal point in a composition and contributes to unity by suggesting that other elements are subordinate to it." (Hobbs, et al.)
Make judgments about the aesthetic value of each set.

3. Input

The project will include students working in groups of three (two if necessary). The software program Better Photography: Learning to See Creatively will be demonstrated to the whole class with a handout showing the screen sequence to get to the key sections on the element 'Shape' and the principle 'Pattern'. There will be space on the handout for student input at various stages in the program.
Students will be given slide frames and several groups will be given the digital cameras. The assignment will be to 'see' and capture examples of pattern and pattern with variety. When using the slide frame, the student is to make a sketch of the scene.
At least three pictures using each compositional system is required. Three (3) of pattern and three (3) of pattern with variety.

4. Modeling

An example of each method will be demonstrated, using the digital camera hooked-up to a TV for quick and easy viewing. The teacher will provide a monologue of the looking and seeing and decision-making process undertaken while eliminating and selecting potential scenes.

5. Check for Understanding & 6. Guided Practice

While some students are on the computer with the software program, others will be using the slide frames and digital cameras in the classroom and the immediate hallway. It is possible that the entire class could move outdoors and work in an area of the school campus for a set amount of time.
The teacher will circulate among groups, asking questions, answering questions, and looking at completed sketches and captured images.

7. Independent Practice

With the 35mm SLR camera and black and white film students will shoot a roll of 12 exposures of shapes in an environment. The images will be well composed and visually interesting due to the compositional arrangement of the shapes. The two types of balance will be represented.
However, asymmetrical balance, created by the variety of placement of the shapes will be emphasized.
A contact print will be made from the finished, processed film and three images will be printed (5" x 7").

8. Closure

Both the images done with the digital cameras or the slide frame sketches and selected B&W prints shot with the 35mm camera will be critiqued by the class and by the photographer using a checklist and a rubric. The teacher will use a separate rubric form.

Name: Date:
"Seeing Patterns & Patterns with Variety"
(Symmetrical Balance & Asymmetrical Balance)

You will be working with the CD program "Learning to See Creatively" featuring the photographs of Brian Peterson. This activity will feature one principle of design - pattern. The examples will help explain your project and illustrate what you should be looking for in your picture-taking.
Please follow this handout carefully and read all the dialog on each of the 'pages' of the software program. There are many excellent images available, look at all of them before moving on.

Begin by clicking on the Workshops button when the MAIN MENU page shows up.
You will see a screen that has three buttons along the left side, with Principles darkened (selected). Do NOT change that button.
In the center you should click on Elements of Design. The column at the right will display PRINCIPLES, and Elements of Design and a series of oval buttons next to terms. Click on the oval next to "Elements of Design."

You will go through a series of pages of photographs with information in the upper right hand corner. In some cases you will see several smaller photographs across the top. These may be enlarged by clicking on them. They will replace the large image in the center of the screen.
When you are done reading and looking at the photo on each page, click on the FORWARD button at the lower right.

You are to carefully go through the first 13 screens. They are, in order -

1. A silvery curve (the St. Louis Arch)
2. A small village with a church
3. A close-up of the church
4. A series of buildings in a town called Rostock, Germany
5. A close-up of the buildings 'framed' by trees
6. A sign with a stork perched on it
7. A close up of the stork
8. Example of LINE
9. " " of SHAPE
10. " " of FORM
11. " " of TEXTURE
12. " " of PATTERN
13. " " of COLOR

At this point you should click on the GO TO button in the upper right corner of the screen.
You should return to the screen with the Principles button (darkened), the Elements of Design button in the center, and the column at the right with the series of oval buttons next to terms. This time click on the oval next to "Pattern."

You will go through a series of 17 photographs showing and describing various qualities of patterns and how to capture them. Please read each page of comments carefully.

At the bottom left you will see three buttons, marked PRINCIPLES, TECHNIQUES, and
EXAMPLES. At any time, on any page, you might click on the EXAMPLES button. A second button will show up entitled 'View Examples'. Click on this to see another picture, similar to the large one, with the technical information below it. When you are done, click on the 'Return to Workshop' button at the lower right.
To find out the technical information about a photograph (aperture and shutter speed settings, etc.), click on the "?" inside a circle located at the lower left of each large photo image. To return to the screen, click on the technical information.

While going through the series of photos of patterns, remember our definitions of "Variety"and "Emphasis". Also, note how the type of balance employed in each image - is it "Symmetrical" or "Asymmetrical"?

Image 8 is of corn kernels. The statement includes: "...if your sole intent is to create a pattern, you must fill your entire frame with it." This is important to remember!

Answer these questions while viewing the series of photos. They are in sequential order:

1. Mr. Peterson's definition of pattern is; Pattern is created when . . .
_________________________________________________________ .

2. Where might a photographer find patterns? __________________________ .

3. How does Mr. Peterson compare patterns and their visual impact to music?
_________________________________________________________ .

4. Besides the visual arts, what other arts rely on pattern? ___________________.

5. Macro and telephoto lenses help compositions in what two (2) way?
_____________________ and __________________ .

6. In the second photo on the S. F. Bay Bridge, what shutter speed is used? _______ .