Project 1
Expressive Compositions I

“In my case, I used the elements of these simple forms - square, cube, line and color - to produce logical systems. Most of these systems were finite; that is, they were complete using all possible variations. This kept them simple.“
— Sol Lewitt

Sol LeWitt, Straight Lines in Four Directions & All Their Possible Combinations, 1973
How can you convey meaning to a broad audience with simple geometrtic forms? 

This project focuses on basic problems of abstract (formal) composition and the ways that form alone, when successfully manipulated, can convey meaning to a broad audience.

Using 6 black paper rectangles (each measuring 2×2”) create 6 separate compositions that best visualize and communicate the following concepts:

  1. order
  2. chaos
  3. public
  4. private
  5. organic
  6. man-made

Using all 6 rectangles in each composition, compose them on 2-ply white museum board (8” square). The rectangles can be placed anywhere on the board and can be aligned to either a horiztonal or vertical axis, but not at angle between these axes. The rectangles can overlap or ‘bleed off’ (extend beyond) the edge of the board if desired.

Good craft is important. Use a sharp blade against a metal ruler to cut the squares and the museum board. Carefully adhere the rectangles to the board with glue and erase any pencil guidelines you may have made. In pencil on the back of the board write your name and the concept represented. 

  • 2-ply white museum board
  • matte black Canson paper
  • HB Pencil
  • glue stick
  • stainless steel cutting ruler
  • x-acto knife
  • cutting board
  • Camera

Project deliverable example

Learning Objectives
  • Explore traditional tools and materials
  • Build awareness of craft and detail
  • Learn how to work with simple forms
  • An understanding of rapid ideation
  • Build an understanding of form and composition
  • Understand framing how composition emphasizes meaning

One weeks 

Week 1, Sept 4
Week 2, Sept 11
Week 3, Sep 18
Required Readings
“Art, Design & Gestalt,” Roy Behrnes 
“Graphic Design Manual (Dot & Line),” Armin Hoffmann
“Visible Wisdom,” Muriel Cooper
“Ways of Seeing” (excerpt), John Berger

Elements of Form
Principles of Composition

This project is a translation from Julian Bittiner’s Introduction to Graphic Design course at Yale University. Thank you.