From Art to Architecture: Geometric Design in Architecture Inspired These Intricately Balanced Drawings

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Geometric design in architecture inspired these intricately balanced drawings.

The intricate balances which characterize the stained glass windows and low-relief wall carvings of Medieval and Renaissance architecture exemplify an innate beauty established through the use of highly orchestrated visual symmetry. The intricate decoration found in Islamic design carries on from the Byzantine tradition, and was given added impetus by a strict observance of Mosaic law forbidding iconographic references to men and animals. Consequently, floral and geometric patterns were employed and developed to the ultimate degree.

I had my Technical Drawing class view slides and discuss architectural structures which were pertinent to geometric design. However, the characteristic properties of geometric design were not limited to architecture. By observing some of the work of daVinci and his contemporaries, it became obvious that geometric underschemes were instrumental in their paintings. Some artists used these visual constructions as framing devices, while others used them as a means of establishing and stabilizing the formalistic values in their work.

In viewing these works, the students became curious as to the means by which some of the structures and balances might be achieved in architectural rendering. They began by malting simple freehand sketches based on circles, lines and points on graph paper. I initially encouraged them to sketch loosely, without becoming overly concerned with technical problems. They based their drawings on the circle, breaking it up and changing its course of direction wherever possible.

Most of the drawings were quite flat in appearance at this stage of development. I instructed students to make their work appear more three-dimensional by building little "walls" around each circle and having taller wails cast shadows on shorter ones. The shadows would eventually serve to describe the form as well as the various levels of the otherwise flat design. Students used research references to seek out iconographic images that might be appropriate for their work.

Once the freehand drawings are completed, the students used illustration board or smooth bristol to draw their final work. …