How Gravity Affects Composition

Horizontal Weight by Maria L. Berg 2023

In my last abstractions post, I talked about The Power of the Center: A Study of Composition in the Visual Arts by Rudolf Arnheim, and the ideas of centric and eccentric composition. Arnheim goes on to talk about how forces like gravity can effect composition which I found interesting.

Arnheim says, “Walking downhill, dropping, or falling is experienced kinesthetically as acceding to one’s own weight. One is being pushed downward by a force situated in the center of one’s own body. . . .The dominant pull of gravity makes the space we live in asymmetrical. . . .Human beings experience the dynamic asymmetry, or anisotropy, of space by means of two senses, kinesthesis and vision. The physical effect of gravity is perceived as tension in the muscles, tendons, and joints of the body. Visually, the world is pervaded by a similar downward pull, whose influence on the dynamic character of the things we see may be illustrated by the difference between what goes on visually in horizontal and vertical surfaces.”

He continues to state that the horizontal orientation is centric composition, since all points have the same relation to the ground, but because of our physical interactions with gravity, vertical orientation is strengthened by a gravitational vector and is thus interacting with an outside center and an eccentric composition. He states that since we must put effort into upward movement, but not into downward movement, we perceive an element in the upper part of the vertical image as having more weight than an element in the lower part. Thus the element in the upper part should be smaller to counterbalance an element below.

Today’s images

I liked the new compositions I was making with the wrapped ring in the mirrorworld, but wanted to see if a smaller ring that actually fit inside the frame of the mirror would have better results. While looking for materials to make the form, I noticed some old wire hat stands I had and decided to try wrapping them with lights. I had three, so I stacked two of them, and wrapped them with colored lights, and left one as is and wrapped it with white lights. This idea has so much potential because they stand freely and I can move them around in relation to each other.

Inspired by Arnheim’s discussion of horizontal and vertical weight, I made a clear plastic filter and drew a symmetrical cross in black sharpie, and I cut out a paper filter with a symmetrical cross in the middle of a circle. The plastic filter creates texture, and I can layer the two filters and move the paper one over the plastic one to cross the crosses at different angles. These images show the paper filter.

What do you think? Do you feel a gravitational pull in the vertical image, but not the horizontal?

Vertical Weight by Maria L. Berg 2023

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s Poetics prompt, Lillian provided some portraits by Thorvald Hellesen (1888 – 1937) as inspiration. I chose “Portrait of Eivind Eckbo” painted in 1914 for today’s poem.

The Man in Motion

He is a whirl of spring air
spinning, spinning always turning
but with one eye holding my stare
like a ballerina in an eternal pirouette
one leg steady—in the shadow under there
under his billowing cloak rising
and falling, a dangerous snare—
the other continuing the momentum
pointing in, pointing out, so beware

He is fluttering soft petals on a fragrant breeze
whirling, whirling, but that eye on me stares
the head almost appears to have a plan to stay
still as the body turns, but then all hair
it snaps around and is back and then it does it again—SNAP!
the head has come around, never losing that stare

And the spinning never stops
as with each turn he becomes more aware
that he’s a pastel shimmer in motion
more breezy, more one with the spring air
and forgets he has a leg on the ground
in the shadows under that cloak that has flown off somewhere.

Satisfied with Staying Dissatisfied

The Satisfaction in Dissatisfaction and the Dissatisfaction in Satisfaction

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the dissatisfaction in satisfaction and the satisfaction in dissatisfaction. No matter what, when I hear the word “satisfaction,” the Rolling Stones’ song is instantly in my head. Why is “I can’t get no da da dum da da da dum satisfaction da da dum da da da dum” so stuck in my brain? In a way, that line itself, represents the contradictory abstract nouns for today, so does today’s image look like Jagger?

For today’s images I was inspired to address some filters I had put in a repair pile. Some of my older filters, though satisfying when created, had fallen apart, or needed some changes and had become dissatisfying. My original wire lines in an open circle filter had fallen apart, so I rearranged the wires and resecured them, but the real satisfaction came with how the lines interacted with the shadows from the string-lights I have in the mirrorworld.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write an ekphrastic poem. I think I will attempt to write my poem in response or in conversation with one of today’s photographs.

The Dissatisfaction in Satisfaction and the Satisfaction in Dissatisfaction by Maria L. Berg 2022

Tide Predictions

Dissatisfaction rolls through
rolls across, over, and around
like waves jostled by rocks
then reflected back upon themselves
waves of satisfaction ebbing
spreading doubt, turning in

the excitement of achievement
not reflected back when shared
like waves crashing upon the sands
of days cooling the warm pride
irritation of errors like sand fleas
hopping on bared skin soon
what was contentment becomes
shivers, goosebumps, and itch

Dissatisfaction brings the blues
but may light the way to  greater
satisfaction another day.


Yesterday’s work with Mapping the Hero’s Journey with Tarot by Arwen Lynch, took time, and I wrote less words on my novel than I might have liked, but I feel like I have a real understanding of where my novel is going and how everything fits together. And the cards I drew for the scene, helped me figure out connections to other clues and how the two characters are trying to manipulate each other.

I did a Celtic Cross and a Hero’s Journey reading for the novel itself. What was fun about interpreting the results for each of those, is they each informed some choices I had been waffling on for future scenes and confirmed or solidified my ideas about what I’ve written so far. That’s what’s so fun about plotting with tarot, the cards are symbolic and broad enough to leave room for interpretation, but specific enough to help make decisions.

Though I went to bed feeling a bit worried that I was burning out, I woke up and went straight to my scenes and already have my minimal word count for the day. It feels great to have any self-imposed pressure off. I think I will try to get straight to the page in the morning for the rest of the month and see how it goes.

Squares in Motion

bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg

Today’s Poetics challenge at the dVerse Poets Pub is to write an ekphrastic poem. I chose Laura’s third option and began my poem based on the title of an image by an artist I wasn’t familiar with, Bridget Riley, before I looked at the piece. Then I looked at the piece and finished the poem.

Movement in Squares

quick turns, sharp angles
only to find the point of origin

always on the straight and narrow
never to meander with wanderlust

blocks, chunks, cubes
toppling, clunking, thudding

lacking grace or fluidity
except to twirl on that point when found

But isn’t everything on this screen
movement in squares?

tiny bits in a group costume
masquerading as sine waves

films, TV shows, new clips and ads
tons of tiny colored squares

of information overload
bombarding, teetering, tumbling

It is but a trick of the eyes
a play on perception

glaring bright in black and white
the chessboards never meet but fall

and fall to depths unknown
reminiscent of Alice in a rabbit hole