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Elements of Art Essay Sample

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Elements of Art Essay Sample

Texture: The texture is the quality of a surface, often corresponding to its tactile character, or what may be sensed by touch. It can be explicitly rendered, or implied with other artistic elements such as lines, shading, and variation of color. It is also about the different patterns and types of lines and shading e.g.: rough, smooth, soft

Form: Form may be created by the forming of two or more shapes or as three-dimensional shapes (cube, pyramid, sphere, cylinder, etc.). It may be enhanced by tone, texture and color. Form is considered three-dimensional showing height, width and depth

Space: Space is the area provided for a particular purpose. Space includes the background, foreground and middle ground. Space refers to the distances or areas around, between or within things. There are two types of space: positive and negative space. Positive space refers to the space of a shape representing the subject matter. Negative space refers to the space around and between the subject matter

Shape: Shape pertains to the use of areas in two dimensional spaces that can be defined by edges, setting one flat specific space apart from another. Shapes can be geometric (e.g.: square, circle, hexagon, etc

Color: Color pertains to the use of hue in artwork and design. Defined as primary colors which can’t be mixed to from other hues, secondary colors (green, orange, violet) which are directly mixed from combinations of primary colors. Further combinations of primary and secondary colors create tertiary.

Value: Value, or tone, refers to the use of light and dark, shade and highlight, in an artwork. Some people also refer the lightness and darkness in an artwork as tints(light) and shades(dark). Value is directly related to
contrast. Value is the relative degree of lightness in the graphic work of art or painting.

Line: Line is defined as a mark that spans a distance between two points (or the path of a moving point), taking any form along the way. As an art element, line pertains to the use of various marks, outlines and implied lines in artwork and design, most often used to define shape in two-dimensional work. Implied line is the path that the viewer’s eyes takes as it follows shapes, colors, and form along a path, but may not be continuous or physically connected. A line is an identifiable path created by a point moving in space. It is one-dimensional and can vary in width, direction, and length. Lines often define the edges of a form. Lines can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, straight or curved, thick or thin. They lead your eye around the composition and can communicate information through their character and direction.

Principles of Design

Balance in design is similar to balance in physics

Gradation of size and direction produce linear perspective. Gradation of of color from warm to cool and tone from dark to light produce an aerial perspective. Gradation can add interest and movement to a shape. A gradation from dark to light will cause the eye to move along a shape.

Repetition with variation is interesting, without variation repetition can become monotonous.

Contrast is the just a position of opposing elements e.g. opposite colors on the color wheel Contrast in tone or value – light / dark. Contrast in direction – horizontal / vertical. The major contrast in a painting should be located at the center of interest. Unless a feeling of chaos and confusion are what you are seeking, it is a good idea to carefully consider where to place your areas of maximum contrast. Harmony

Harmony in painting is the visually satisfying effect of combining similar, related elements. Eg.adjacent colors on the color wheel, similar shapes etc. Dominance
Dominance gives a painting interest, counteracting confusion and monotony. Dominance can be applied to one or more of the elements to give emphasis

Relating the design elements to the idea being expressed in a painting reinforces the principal of unity.eg. A painting with an active aggressive subject would work better with a dominant oblique direction, course, rough texture, angular lines etc. whereas a quiet passive subject would benefit from horizontal lines, soft texture and less tonal contrast. Unity in a painting also refers to the visual linking of various elements of the work.

Warm and Cool colors
Have warm colors as the dominant colors and then add a few elements that incorporate cool colors (and vice versa). Like with all elements of decorating it’s important to have some balance and contrast.

Warm colors: Made with orange, red, yellow and combinations of them all. As the name indicates, they tend to make you think of sunlight and heat. Warm colors look as though they come closer, or advance (as do dark colors), which is why they’re often used to make large rooms look cozier. Cool Colors: Such as blue, green and light purple have the ability to calm and soothe. Where warm colors remind us of heat and sunshine, cool colors remind us of water and sky. Unlike warm colors, cool colors look as though they recede; making them great for small rooms you want to look larger. Social responsibility of an artist

Community art is most often art for social change and involves some empowerment of the community members who come together to create artwork/s with artists. This is a growing national, international, regional and local field. Recently community arts and sustainability work or environmental action have begun to interface, including urban revitalization projects creating artwork at a neighborhood level.

Types of Art


Definition: A style of painting and sculpture developed in the early 20th century, characterized by the reduction and fragmentation of natural forms into abstract, often geometric structures usually rendered as a set of discrete planes. Characteristics

Pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Cubism is basically the art of creating abstract shapes of three dimensional objects on a two dimensional surface. An artist who wants to opt for cubism should be able to represent an object in multiple planes. Therefore, in simple terms, a cubist artist or a painter basically shows more than one view at a time. The overall look of a painting that is created in this style appears in the form of little cubes. An artist uses the style of little cubes to depict an object or a person from different views.

Cubism was further divided into two main branches – analytical cubism and synthetic cubism. Cubists who painted using the analytical style of cubism analyzed and broke up natural forms into little cubes or other geometrical shapes. Artists used a monochromatic color scheme for these paintings. Picasso and Braque both used the analytical style of painting. Mix media is the use of different mediums of paint used to create a composition on one surface. Synthetic cubism is about creating flatter compositions with minimum shading as compared to analytical cubism.

Definition: A theory or style of painting originating and developed in France during the 1870s, characterized by concentration on the immediate visual impression produced by a scene and by the use of unmixed primary colors and small strokes to simulate actual reflected light.

The term “impressionism” was first coined to describe works that appeared sketchy and unfinished. Impressionists rejected the highly finished surfaces of academic painting of the time to create a visual language of bright, rapidly applied color to capture light and atmosphere. Impressionist painters employed a wide range of compositional devices in their work. The subject matter of Impressionism is often casual, everyday life, captured with an immediacy enhanced by transient effects of light and atmosphere. Impressionists broke with the notion of academic finish by which paintings appear to have a flat or smooth surface. Artists traditionally mixed paints on their palette to achieve a certain hue or color before applying it to the canvas. Depicting light and the play of shadow has long been a concern for painters. Generations of painters before the Impressionists used neutral tones and black and grays for shadows. They painters both in France and America were interested in capturing a sense of immediacy. They also emphasized new compositional devices such as plunging perspective, cropped forms, and compositions balanced asymmetrically.

Definition: A European artistic and literary movement (1916-1923) that flouted conventional aesthetic and cultural values by producing works marked by nonsense, travesty, and incongruity.

Dada was a literary and artistic movement born in Europe at a time when the horror of World War I was being played out in what amounted to citizens’ front yards. Due to the war, a number of artists, writers and intellectuals – notably of French and German nationality – found themselves congregating in the refuge that Zurich (in neutral Switzerland) offered. Far from merely feeling relief at their respective escapes, this bunch was pretty ticked off that modern European society would allow the war to have happened. They were so angry, in fact, that they undertook the time-honored artistic tradition of protesting. Banding together in a loosely-knit group, these writers and artists used any public forum they could find to (metaphorically) spit on nationalism, rationalism, materialism and any other -ism which they felt had contributed to a senseless war. In other words, the Dadaists were fed up. If society is going in this direction, they said, we’ll have no part of it or its traditions. We, who are non-artists, will create non-art – since art (and everything else in the world) has no meaning, anyway. In an interesting twist, this art of protest – based on a serious underlying principle – is delightful. The nonsense factor rings true. Dada art is whimsical, colorful, wittily sarcastic and, at times, downright silly. If one wasn’t aware that there was, indeed, a rationale behind Dadaism, it would be fun to speculate as to just what these gentlemen were “on” when they created these pieces. What are the key characteristics of Dada art?

•Dada began in Zurich and became an international movement. Or non-movement, as it were. •Dada had only one rule: Never follow any known rules.
•Dada was intended to provoke an emotional reaction from the viewer •Dada art is nonsensical to the point of whimsy. Almost all of the people who created it were ferociously serious, though. •Abstraction and Expressionism were the main influences on Dada, followed by Cubism and, to a lesser extent, Futurism. •Dada influenced many concurrent trends in the visual arts (especially in the case of Constructivism). The best-known movement Dada was directly responsible for is Surrealism. •Dada self-destructed when it was in danger of becoming “acceptable”.

Definition: A movement in the arts during the early part of the 20th century that emphasized subjective expression of the artist’s inner experiences.

Emotions and Feelings: Expressionism’s defining characteristic is its attempt to describe emotions and feelings visually. This might be through a portrait that exaggerates certain features of a face to make it seem more expressive, or it could be through vibrant and contrasting colors in a room to create an overall mood. In contrast, non-Expressionist art would avoid distorting shapes, colors and lines so that it could display physical reality more accurately.

Subjectivity: Some non-Expressionist art relies on color and shape distortion to create an enhanced sense of reality; the art of the New Objectivist painter is a prime example. However, their work is still intent on displaying the external or “objective” world as clearly as possible. Expressionistic art, on the other hand, tends to display an artist’s internal, subjective experience to the world, whether it is a depiction of a dream, an improvised abstraction, or a highly stylized painting of a street scene that the artist has imbued with his own interpretation.

Vivid Coloration: In contrast to the Impressionists, who saw color as a reflection of light-and thus a representation of the physical world-Expressionists view color as an emotional device. Expressionistic paintings tend to employ vivid colors to elicit emotional reactions from the viewer or to relay the deep emotional state of the artist.

Dynamic And Distorted Forms: Most Expressionistic paintings, when depicting images of recognizable objects like humans or horses, render them in exaggerated forms, frequently with a sense of movement through blurred edges or curving brushstrokes. Even abstract paintings employ this kind of dynamism, showing a fluidity of line and movement throughout the painting.

Characteristics of Movements Within Expressionism: Each movement within Expressionism has had its own distinct style. Art of the Fauves (Wild Beasts), including that of Matisse, was intensely colored with distorted shapes balanced into compelling compositions, but they remained fairly representational. German Expressionism continued this highly stylized approach but delved strongly into abstraction and improvisational compositions, particularly in the work of Wassily Kandinsky. Abstract Expressionism expanded the canvas and employed an “all over” approach to creating large-scale, highly abstract paintings.

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