College of Art University of Houston
course description
course projects

Project #1 [download pdf]

• To learn the principles of gestalt through composition.
• To practice the use of design tools and learn the importance of craft.
• To begin to build a vocabulary for the discussion of design.
• To practice the art of critique.
Composition is a fundamental aspect of art and design. Determining “good” placement of shapes on a page and the relationships between them comes from practice and the understanding of specific design principles. In Project 1 we will begin to learn these principles through practical application and assigned reading.

How to Sketch
Use a fine black marker and a ruler to draw a
6 x 6" frame on tracing paper. Within this frame you may use either pencil or marker to draw 3–6 precise circles with a circle template. Fill in finished circles with black marker. Compose circles according to the following gestalt principles:

First Set of Sketches
Complete a minimum of 10 sketches for each principle in class or, if you do not finish, continue on your own. Label each sketch according to the principle illustrated. After you have completed these 40 sketches, carefully evaluate each and determine which ones are the most successful.

Second Set of Sketches
From the first set of 40 sketches, choose the 4 best sketches for each principle. Use these as a starting point to make a second set of 16 (four sketches per principle). Use marker and tracing paper for these sketches which you will present for the first critique.
Craft is important!

Final Composition
Finally, from the most successful sketches that you will have presented in class critiques, choose the best solution for each principle and render according to the directions listed under Final Format. Turn in these final four compositions.

John Bowers, Intro to Two Dimensional Design: Understanding Form and Function. pp. 20–21 and pp. 42–49.

Gestalt Frame Position Tension
Cropping Direction Figure
Ground Negative Space
Abstraction Illusion of depth
Composition Discipline Technique
Craft Organization Structure
Concept Aesthetic

Note: Do not use spray fixative or spray adhesive inside the building. Always put scrap paper under your project (to catch the sticky overspray) and place on the ground outside. Then Spray! Do not cut with an X-acto knife or utility knife directly on a table top. Always place a cutting matt between the knife blade and the table surface. Craft is important!


Wednesday JAN 18
First day of class
–Acquire supplies

Monday JAN 23
Demonstration + work in class
–Begin work on first 40 sketches w/pencil and marker.

Wednesday JAN 25
Crit 16 refined sketches
–Crit four 6 x 6" marker sketches for each principle

Monday JAN 30
Crit 8 sketches
–Crit two 6 x 6" marker sketches for each principle

Wednesday FEB 1
Due Project 1 + Begin Project 2 in class
–Due four 10 x 10" compositions
–Due: minimum of 56 sketches for Project 1 in a 8.5 x 11" envelope.

Final Format

Render the final four 6 x 6" compositions on white, smooth bristol board using black pen and ink and/or black gouache. Center and mount the completed compositions on 10 x 10", black Letra Max 2000 board as shown in the illustration below.

Final Sketch Presentation
Organize and place all sketches for this project in a large envelope (no smaller than 8.5 x 11". Turn in a minimum of 56 sketches. Be sure to label all sketches with your name and the principle illustrated. Label the outside of the envelope with your name

portfolio requirements  
© Kathryn S Kelley, 2005.