Figures should not be "haloed" by repeating forms above them either by cloud shapes, trees, hills, or other incidents or markings. Nor should they be placed back to back ; nor be grouped in equal numbers.The confusion which results from ignoring these simple rules is made evident in the accompanying diagram.
In architectural decoration, symmetry is not necessarily objectionable. The element of accident is rarely called for in formal designs.
In Fig. 19 we have the perpendicular lines of the columns running into the outline of the head and so enclosing it, carried on again by the drapery folds and the straight leg. We also see horizontals found in a line with the eyes, mouth, chin, and so on—limbs cut through at the joint—the bent leg, conducting the eye into the angle of the canvas—a curved marking in the columns, recalling the top line of the head—cloud forms echoing the head itself—the arm and leg making between them something in the nature of a parallelogram. Any one of these faults might well tend to confuse or check the sense of detachment and simplicity.
Many concavities should be avoided, as well as " double action," such
as the two hands of a figure separately occupied, unless the subject demands it.
Such difficulties as these will crop up repeatedlyin the making of compositions, and where it becomes impossible to steer clear of them, a judicious use of light and shade may often help to render them harmless. But should your composition, or any part of it, appear weak, apply such ne
gative laws to it. They may assist you in discovering the source of weakness.
I would draw your attention to two compositions of Michelangelo which form part of the ceiling decoration of the Sistine Chapel, that should make manifest to you the capacity of line and massing in the hands of a great master.