Gilbert Stuart painted “George Washington” in 1795 utilizing oil on canvas. In order to create this composition he utilized emphasis and subordination, asymmetry and proportion.
Emphasis is used to draw the viewer’s attention to certain aspects of the work, while subordination is used to make other parts of the composition less appealing so as not to take the viewer’s attention away (134). These techniques highlight Washington’s face. The painting is very dark so the artist uses light colors on and around the face to highlight it. Asymmetry in artwork is when both sides of the composition do not match (129). In this work, Washington is set slightly to the left and the right side of the painting is relatively empty which draws the focus again to the face. Proportion in a composition refers to the size of the parts in relation to what is considered normal (137). In this artwork, the body of Washington appears much larger than the head again drawing attention to the face.
In 1962, Andy Warhol created “Green Marilyn” with silkscreen on synthetic polymer paint on canvas. Like Stuart he uses asymmetry and color to emphasize the subject’s face; however he also uses variety and rhythm.
Like Stuart, Warhol focuses on the face of his subject by setting it slightly off center making the artwork asymmetrical. The use of color does two things in this work. It is used to emphasize the features of the face, he makes the lips bright red, the eyelids teal and the hair bright yellow. Each of these colors is set off with the use of shadows which draws the viewer’s attention. The use of color also adds variety, difference that provides interest (122). The colors in this artwork are very bold and they contrast which makes the colors a distraction from the actual face from the subject. The various colors actually make the features appear to stand alone and not as part of a whole. Finally, Warhol uses rhythm, or repetition (141). He uses the same color in the background and for the eyes which draws the two colors together.
In conclusion, both works are portraits that focus on the subject’s face, however the design principles are used differently which is evident through the differences in the works.