Photograph above taken in Lake George, NY with a Leica M6 (2002)
15 Facts About Dynamic Symmetry and Composition in Art (Click here for the podcast on this article)
1. Contrary to popular belief, Jay Hambidge did not create the Dynamic Symmetry system of design - Dynamic Symmetry is over 2000 years old. Hambidges' contributions are one of rediscovery, not invention.
3. There are three primary websites that teach classical skill-based design - Adam Marelli Workshops, Canon of Design, and my site Dynamic Symmetry Art. All three of us teach the same design techniques that we learned from Myron Barnstone. For example, all of the techniques found in the Canon of Design self-published books and Adam Marelli's UDemy videos are the same techniques that I discuss on Dynamic Symmetry Art. The most significant difference between our sites is that I don't charge anything for the information and I also explore the 14 line armature of the rectangle. To download a free comprehensive list of these design techniques, click here.
Artists, photographers, and graphic designers can easily incorporate the use of root rectangles (also known as Dynamic Symmetry) in all of their compositions regardless if it's a drawing, painting, or photograph. Photographers that want to apply Dynamic Symmetry principles to their pictures will find the basic armature of the rectangle more than adequate for most of their design needs. However, for those ambitious photography students that have a desire to study other master photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Martine Franck, Elliott Erwitt, Eve Arnold, etc. they will discover that these artists also employed the use of overlapping root 4 Dynamic Symmetry rectangles in a 1.5 frame. All of these design concepts I thoroughly discuss on this website and in the free PDF Tips and Techniques.
7. Camera grids are completely unnecessary for applying Dynamic Symmetry in photography. In fact, they are counterproductive in the long run for improving your visual literacy skills. And no, regardless of the product claims found online, master photographers don't use them.
8. Photographers can't create complex designs like the artist that draws and paints. For this reason, complicated Dynamic Symmetry grid packs aren't necessary for the photographer. The basic armature of the rectangle is more than enough to create excellent compositions. To download a free simple-to-use Dynamic Symmetry grid pack, click here.
9. Workshops are unnecessary for learning composition. All the information on composition in art can be found in a few art books and videos on classical skill-based art.
10. The golden section rectangle doesn't have anything to do with shooting the 1.5 format (35mm film and most full-frame digital sensors). This mistake is made on practically every photography website that teaches composition.
11. The Rule of Thirds, the Rule of Odds, the Rule of Space, and Leading Lines have practically nothing to do with real design.
12. The books Pictorial Composition and the Critical Judgment of Pictures and Pictorial Composition: An Introduction by Henry Rankin Poore have the same information. The only difference between these two books is the ease of use and the publishing dates. The book Pictorial Composition: An Introduction is more user-friendly.
13. The best books written about composition by a modern-day master artist are Classical Drawing Atelier and Classical Painting Atelier by Juliette Aristide. Unlike the self-published books found online, they are of the highest quality, and the information is spot on.
14. The best videos available for learning more about Dynamic Symmetry are the Myron Barnstone Drawing DVD series - specifically lessons 7 & 10. These videos are of the highest quality and value for the serious art and photography student.
The Benefits of Learning Dynamic Symmetry and Real Design
-Create Masterful Art and Photography That's Easy to Sell! -Build a Portfolio That Far Exceeds Your Competitors! -Watch Your Self Confidence Grow as Your Skills Improve! =Gain Respect From Your Peers and Become a Highly Trained Artist! -Learn the Design Techniques that Make Your Art Come to Life! -Learn How to Stop Relying on "Intuition" and Start Using Real Skills! -Discover the Secrets of Composition That Master Artists Don't Want You to Know!
What Others Are Saying About Dynamic Symmetry Art "James Cowman's user's guide on composition and Dynamic Symmetry, in particular, was one of the greatest milestones on my journey of becoming a better artist. Dynamicsymmetryart.com is undoubtedly the best resource on the subject out there, which I keep recommending to anyone interested in taking their compositions to a new level. It shocks me that even otherwise excellent artists today often know nothing about these old systems and rely mostly on their intuition to create their compositions. It's time that artists rediscover and revive the lost knowledge of the old masters and bring art back to its former glory. Jame's user's guide is a unique and invaluable resource in this effort." - Storm Engineer
"Jim offers something that is almost impossible to find online: a truly one-of-a-kind resource. His information about Dynamic Symmetry is meticulously researched and comes from a place of knowledge and genuine interest, not sales, as so many educational sites do. Reading his surprisingly accessible work has helped me to grow artistically in a deliberate and satisfying way. I return to Dynamic Symmetry Art regularly and always learn something new." - Rebecca Isenhart
"The information provided in The Art of Composition: A Dynamic Symmetry User's Guide for the Modern Artist has been a tremendous resource for me as an artist and photographer. My photography work has improved tremendously, and all of my clients agree! I'll continue to share this user's guide with all of my peers and other creative artists." - Zine Massey
"I just graduated from the BFA in Graphic Design at the Federal University of Pernambuco, in Brazil, and one of the chapters of my monograph was about composition. As a motion designer, the proper layout of elements is a very important phase in my creative process, so any tool that helps with making decisions on that is very valuable. What I love about your studies is that it's full of images and resources, it's a gold mine in my opinion. Thanks for providing so much information at an affordable price." - Eveline Falcão
"The Art of Composition: A Dynamic Symmetry User's Guide for the Modern Artist deserves to be a physical book in Barnes & Noble & on my coffee table!" - Elliot McGucken
"The Art of Composition: A Dynamic Symmetry User's Guide for the Modern Artist is, without a doubt, one of the most comprehensive e-books ever written on the topic of design in art. Whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or advanced art/photography student, this user's guide is indispensable. I recommend it to all of my artists and photographers and have it linked to my website The Artist Angle." - Jennifer Finley
"Though I am not a newcomer to photography, I am far from being a professional. So too, it has only been in the past few months that I discovered dynamicsymmetryart.com. I was transformed from being concerned with camera equipment, f-stops, shutter speed, ISO to considering how I would apply the principles of classical art training to my photography.
As I began reading about the old world masters, including da Vinci, Degas, Rembrandt, and Renoir, I learned that Dynamic Symmetry structurally changed paintings from being passive to active and dynamic. Furthermore, I didn’t realize that a small, yet renowned, group of photographers were well known for using Dynamic Symmetry in their photographs of city life and people.
My journey began by reading. The Dynamic Symmetry Art website has numerous resources that gave me a crash course in art and composition. I had to learn about the visual properties of different kinds of rectangles and how each can be divided into compositional elements. Then I began using the Dynamic Symmetry grid overlays in Lightroom to analyze and crop my photos.
I have found dynamicsymmetryart.com extremely beneficial, and it has contributed immensely with my efforts to improve as a photographer. Thank you for your commitment to art and art education." - Warren Wish
"There’s been something missing in my photography for some time now. It felt like I’d hit a brick wall. I was finding great locations and taking beautiful photos, but again, something was missing. I had no idea what it was; I just knew it was there.
I found myself repeatedly falling back on the Rule of Thirds, but this was becoming more of a hindrance rather than a help. Then one day I had the good fortune to stumble across the website Dynamicsymmetryart.com. There is no better teacher or resource on the internet regarding Dynamic Symmetry and best of all everything is free! I can assure you, once you begin to delve into the rich offerings on this site you won’t have any need to look elsewhere.
I, for one, can’t thank Jim enough for all the time and effort he has put into this and for taking my photography to the next level. His website and Youtube channel are both superb, and I'd like to thank him for sharing the knowledge on what is a very fascinating subject." - Tim B
"With the passing of Myron Barnstone, we lost a great resource on the application of the Rectangles of the Masters and the Golden Section in creating art. But the website dynamicsymmetryart.com is carrying on that work Myron so thoroughly believed in and taught. Dynamic Symmetry can be used in the simplest of ways as well as being infinitely complex if one desires. Great minds such as Leonardo da Vinci recognized the power that this compositional tool offers.
Dynamicsymmetryart.com is an amazing reference for artists who are open to exploring the benefits of using Dynamic Symmetry in their work. It applies to all the arts and resonates at a primal level of understanding harmony and beauty. Much thanks to James Cowman for his dedication to furthering this information to the public." - Master Artist and Teacher,Dot Bunn, Red Stone Farm Studio
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