One of my favorite design exercises starts by drawing a simple design (you can see the trials above) and then after one is chosen, I divide the composition into sections. In the examples below, the design gets increasingly complex as the composition is divided in half and then in half again, and so on. It's always a gamble as to how far to go. Sometimes the original design is the best, but if you choose a composition as I did, that you don't like very much, then it opens up new possibilities and new relationships between line and shapes. This design incorporates the grid in the horizontal and vertical divisions. You can also see that leaving space between the sections adds another element of line.
the first ink drawing
divided in half and rearranged
divided into 4 sections
divided into 8 sections
By the time you get this many pieces, 16 shapes, you have quite a design puzzle.
What's next? I could keep arranging, looking for connections between lines and spaces and trying to see where contrast and merging add interest.
I could glue this all down and say Finished! or start dividing again. I could add more lines to help unify the design. Color would also be an interesting element to break up the monotony of the black and white.
Want to play with design and abstraction with some company? I'm giving a 4-week workshop in June at my studio in Trumansburg. It will be easy and fun and will lead you down some new creative paths. For more info - Summer Art Workshops