example of tangent problem in art
Creative Chrysalis

136 – Tangent Awareness Day

January 25, 2022 By

Every budding artist should observe Tangent Awareness Day! The ability to spot this space killing compositional flaw will improve one’s art immensely and is something to celebrate when you put it to use. Not familiar with tangents? Then let me introduce you and thank me later.

The sun, tree and house in the drawing on the left above are connected tangentially.  The lines of one visual plane run into another, visually connecting them, and thusly making it difficult to determine what is foreground and background, and sometimes also creating unintended shapes (like the area with the question mark.) Usually, a slight shift in position will correct this flaw – separating elements or overlapping them so that no lines from foreground lead directly to ones in background.

Do lines always have to touch to make tangents? Not necessarily. A line of sight – where you are directing the eye to travel, is equally important to be aware of. As I finished sewing details on a section of the large quilt I’m working on, I realized that I had created this very problem!