Virtual Art Academy

Space Division- Interlocking Shapes

What are Interlocking Shapes?

Space division in a painting is more interesting when you create two shapes that interlock, as in a puzzle or jigsaw puzzle.


You can see the negative sky shape formed by the top frame of the painting and the silhouette of the buildings. The houses on the left provide the interlocking shape into the negative shape of the sky. There are also interlocking shapes to the right provided by the sky shape inserting itself into the line of buildings. You can see the puzzle-like piece in green fitting into the contour of the houses.

When designing your space division using interlocking shapes, you also need to take into account unequal space division.

Master Examples





Further examples can be found in works by master painters. In this color study by Turner, you can see the contours of the landscape and vermilion towers create interlocking shapes in the sky. This shows how you can use compositional studies to explore the use of interlocking shapes to strengthen your painting design.


You can see this space division technique being used again within the major shapes in this masterpiece by Canaletto. The contour of the buildings almost appears to pierce the sky. Note the inclusion of the tall church tower on the right. This was deliberately included in order to further lock the two shapes of the sky and the mass of buildings together.

What Our Students Are Saying About The Virtual Art Academy

The most comprehensive art instruction I could find anywhere online, and trust me, I had been looking for a long time.

I joined 2 years ago with my daughter. We have both learnt so much and have enjoyed our VAA time together. My daughter is now 13 and already produces amazing paintings.
The Virtual Art Academy is simply the most comprehensive art instruction I could find anywhere online, and trust me, I had been looking for a long time.
Even art schools and academies I’ve been exposed to are nowhere near as thorough, VAA is just amazing!
Most paintings I see where the artist clearly has some skill still lack in either the values or notan department, or fall down on composition – it’s baffling that VAA seems to be the only program that goes into detail on this. Therefore, if you are new to painting or an experienced artist, studying with VAA will get you to that next step.
I also find that Barry is always interested in what we students do and is at hand with great advice. Worth every penny, Thank you Barry!!

Marlene Lento