Three Time’s a Charm

As cardmakers and paper crafters we all know that an odd number of elements looks the best.  But have you ever been curious as to why that is?  Today we will be talking about why that odd number is so appealing!

One is an odd number and it always works on a card or page layout.  If you have a really nice focal, it is the best way to highlight and draw attention to it.  When another element is added things tend to not look so nice.  Why?  Two elements always equal a line.


That’s where the left and right side of your brain theory comes in.  It is believed that the left side of the brain is the orderly side, the side that makes a distinct shape in your mind, is orderly, and puts a name on it.  Where the right side of your brain is the artistic side and accepts things that have no name, or distinct shape and cannot be put in order.  Odd numbers create tension in our brains.  The tension comes from the right and left side almost warring together – with the left side trying to put a name on it and the right side loving the fact that it’s not linear.

So that means an even number will always satisfy your left brain, but an uneven number will always win the right side and recognize it as art.

Let’s look at two placed elements.

To me, this looks like something is missing.  It’s not very pleasing.  We all know that 3 elements work very well, especially on a card.  Let’s try 4 elements.

This is  better but still looks like something is missing.  We’ll add 5 elements next.

This has an odd number of elements but it’s definitely not working well.  Why is that?  The way the elements are laid out 1) makes a recognizable square and 2) the elements are not relating.  Yes, the elements are color coordinated, but they are not relating to each other in that there is no overlap, no connecting of the elements to show they belong together or even like each other!

When grouping elements together for a card or layout, it’s important to remember that odd numbers look better to our brains and our elements need to be relating to each other.

I finished off my card by using a stitched circle die cut of white vellum, placing a die cut sentiment on it and curving my 3 elements around the circle.  I have also used an odd amount of pearls for embellishment.  I used 3 on the bottom and 2 on top making 5 total.

I hope this has made sense to you!  For further reading Betty Edwards goes into detail in her book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”.  There are workbooks that go along with this book and are available for purchase on Amazon.  I’ll leave you with a quote from her book:

“Unity is achieved when everything in a composition fits together as a coherent whole, each part contributing to the wholeness of the total image.”