Henri Matisse’s Red Studio, 1911, is also carefully composed and unified though more expressive and arbitrary in the use of the elements of line and color. If you were to draw a line down the center, you would have an equal number of objects left and right. While they do not evenly match up, there is a balance in the visual weight. Unity is achieved with the color red consistently applied to the floor, walls, and furniture. Variety is achieved with the inclusion of paintings, sculptures, and ceramics all within his studio at the time.



These objects vary in shape and color. Is there a rhythm within the composition? Not really. Objects seem to be loosely placed within that room. However, the use of high value white or higher values of red (pink) keep the viewer’s eye moving around the composition, forcing us to survey his collection. Obviously, the artist manipulated the color, line, shapes, and spatial format in order to amplify his narrative motivation. What would this be? He wanted the viewer to “see” that his studio is energized and dynamic, mostly through the energizing power of hot red. 

 While Matisse’s representation is expressive in intent, deviating from true representation, monochromatic schemes for interior design exist. The above photo of the interior of the Howell home in Washington demonstrates a designer’s use of color and composition to create a harmonious living space. Everything is within the gray scale – high value white to dark white to light gray to dark gray to black. Only the warm color of the fire in the antique stove provides contrast. Balance: one couch is on the left and one to the right. The one to the right is larger providing variety, yet the unit whose back we see at the bottom right of the photo is balance by the box for firewood near the wall at the upper left. The painting on the left wall balances in size and verticals, horizontals and circular shapes with the ceramics and other objects on the glass bookcase. Also note the frame of the windows and relation to the pieces of furniture, the patterns on the black and white ceramics with the rug. Every unit has a counterpart somewhere else; yet, each object is unique in its own right.