Zooming-In as Composition

For this lesson, we are focusing on images where the view is extremely close, as if we have zoomed-in with a camera lens, in order to create an interesting composition.

Now zoom-in compositions are really about the use of positive and negative space:

  • Positive Space: the space occupied by an object
  • Negative Space: the empty space within and around objects
  • Notan: Asian aesthetic of a good balance between positive and negative space


Note how in the example above the artist, Georgia O’Keefe, gives us a very close view of the flower.  The background is almost non-existent as the positive forms of the flower and the leaves fill the space.  What negative space is there is interesting, creating interesting shapes that frame, and in some cases point, to the main subject.

For this lesson we are looking at two different artists.  The first is Edward Weston:

  • American photographer, 20th century
  • Heavy reliance on value and close-ups to create interesting and abstract compositions

For our second artist, we are looking at Georgia O’Keefe:

  • American painter, 20th century
  • Heavy reliance on highly saturated color and close-ups to create interesting and abstract compositions

The Assignment

Your task is to find a suitable subject, preferably derived from observation, to render using a close-up or zoomed-in composition.

Keep in mind that this is for your exhibition, so your selection should still fall in line with your stated theme.

Once you select your object, you are going to zoom in on portion of it, so that the whole object is not visible.

As you design your composition, really consider the negative space as well as the positive space.  Try to create a design where the negative space is interesting and is more than just “left over space.”

  • You are encouraged to work from observation, but that does not mean you have to do realism
  • You are to work  from a photo or from an object you have (or that is here) that would work for your theme
    • If it is not your source photo, that’s ok, but we need to cite it
  • You may want to consider a color scheme
    • Analogous
    • Achromatic
    • Complementary
    • Local or real colors are fine too
  • You are working with your choice of medium
  • Decide how real or abstract you want to be with this
  • Still only 2 weeks to complete, still 12×18 max

As you prepare for this, try to secure an image or object that will work for your composition as well as fits your theme.  Consider what medium you want to use and we can determine other factors from there.  I will want to see a sketch.