Achieving balance in a work of art is essential. While most people have an innate sense of balance when it comes to pictorial composition, trying to create or fix balance in a design requires knowledge and skills. I recently read a blog post from B&H photo where the author claimed that "there is nothing wrong with an unbalanced shot unless your goal is a balanced one!" I strongly disagree. A master artist will continually strive to find balance in their work and intentionally creating an unbalanced drawing, painting, or photograph doesn't make any sense. After all, why would any artist strive to create bad art and an unsuccessful composition?
A simple way to analyze balance in a work of art is to take any picture, drive a vertical and horizontal line through the center finding the middle or pivot point and weigh the various elements that surround it. A well-balanced work of art will show a pleasant distribution of all the components around the central axis. In the painting below, by Johannes Vermeer called the "Procuress," notice how all the elements are balanced around the central division: The woman's right hand acts as the pivot around all the other items in the painting.