Project Example: Complimentary Forms: 4

AD 175: Visual Structures

Project Example: Complimentary Forms

Title of Project

Complimentary Forms

Methods and Concepts

Figure/ground, color, physical-visual structure, groupings, volumetric interpretation


Figure/ground, shape, direction, orientation, brightness, texture, light, grouping, figure/ground ambiguity, overlap, balance, rhythm


Research at least 5 artists that use hueless sculptural forms. Make an analysis of the figure/ground relationships used in the sculpture: shapes, sizes, directions, positions, orientations, brightness, etc. As a method of understanding figure/ground in a volumetric solution, create a sculptural form by carving. The final sculpture should be hueless and the hueless structure may be achieved by using either hueless materials or paint. A second sculpture is created that compliments the first using the same methods and the same brightness structure. Exploration of figure/ground relationships between the two sculptures is the cumulative goal of the project. The project extends the visual field beyond a surface interpretation and incorporates depth as a visual structure. Physical structures of balance and tension must be addressed.


Subtractive sculpting material such as plaster or foam; cheap carving tools such as knives, box-cutters, screwdrivers, chisels; sandpaper; paint (optional)

Physical processes

1. Create a hueless sculpture from the plaster by carving. The plaster may be painted upon completion to a gray or black, but it may not use any hue.
2. Create a sketch of the sculpture and develop 5 shapes in sketches that would be complimentary to the first sculpture. The new shapes can exaggerate certain aspects of the first (a very small sculpture against a larger sculpture; a sculpture fitting into a void in the second sculpture; shapes that intertwine to create new figures). The brightness of the new shape must be the same as the original shape.
3. Create a second sculpture based on the sketches. The original sculpture may be modified slightly to accommodate the new sculpture in the event of very close tolerances. The final project is the combination and presentation of the two sculptures together.

Critique approach

Three layers of critique: Small group critiques of the initial sculpture (3-4 students per group); one-on-one critiques with the instructor during the sketch stages (step #2); full class group critique of the final sculptural groupings.

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