Ilya Bolotowsky – Rotation and Balance (of Color & Line)

9 Nov

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I started my lesson with a news article.–abc-news-topstories.html


Rotation -to turn around a central point. Rotating an object does not change it, but does affect our perception of it. Understand the meaning and measure of a quarter rotation (90°), half rotation (180°) and so on. Observe how the visual relationship of the lines and shapes created affect the balance of the finished piece.

Balance – refers to the ways in which the elements (lines, shapes, colors, textures, etc.) of a piece are arranged. Balance can be symmetrical (“formal”), where elements are given equal “weight” from an imaginary line in the middle of a piece. Balance doesn’t necessarily mean symmetry, though. Asymmetrical (“informal”) balance occurs when elements are placed unevenly in a piece, but work together to produce harmony overall.

About the Artist and Print

Born in Russia, immigrated to US in 1923. Bolotowsky was a leading 20th Century painter in abstract styles in New York City. His work embraced cubism and was much influenced by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian.He called his round paintings tondos.

In Tondo Variation in Red (1978) a few elements produce a powerful, dynamic impact. The weighty, dark red of the upper half of the painting is supported by horizontal whites that stabilize the composition. An even darker red, vertical plane below, bounded by a slim, straight, blue band, anchors the plane above and balances the composition.


What if I rotated the painting 90°, does it look as balanced? Why or why not? Another 90°?

Would different colors make a difference? Why or why not?

What about if there was no white? Does contrast help create balance?


10” x 10” square white paper
Larger black paper with 9” circle cut from center
Ruler and pencil/eraser
Colored pencils


  • Write name NICELY in pencil in lower right corner of black paper. And set aside.
  • Use ruler and pencil to create a design on white paper. Use horizontal and vertical lines.
  • Try to limit to no more than 15 lines.
  • Find balance with your lines. Vary the thicknesses.
  • Fill in shapes with color. Make sure to include some white lines.
  • Once finished. Place your drawing BEHIND your black paper. Rotate your drawing 90° until you find the composition that shows off the best feeling of balance in your piece. Keep rotating your piece a quarter turn if necessary.
  • Once you have found the best orientation, flip both pieces over and tape the drawing to the backside of the black paper.

Art Docent: Marcie Guthrie
Print/Painting: Tondo Variation in Red (1978)
Room#, Grade, Teacher: Rm. 9, 4th grade, Mrs. Choi
Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: LINE and BALANCE


One Response to “Ilya Bolotowsky – Rotation and Balance (of Color & Line)”

  1. albertkn November 13, 2012 at 10:33 am #


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