Chapter 2: Visual Elements of ArtI found I could say things with color and shapes that Icouldn’t say in any other way – things I had no wordsfor.–Georgia O’Keeffe
The Visual Elements of Art:• Color• Shape• Line• Light• Value• Texture• Space• Time• Motion
The Language of ArtInstead of using symbols and words tocommunicate, the language of art relieson visual elements and principles ofdesign. The composition of theseelements forms the style, form andcontent of the work. Learning the visualelements is learning the vocabulary ofthe language of art.
Visual Elements of Art• Also called the plastic elements of art.• Artists use visual elements to express themselves in any given medium (i.e. drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, textiles, ceramics, etc…) Principles of Design: Unify, Balance, Rhythm, Scale, Proportion, etc..
LINE • the simplest and the most complex of the elements of art • serves as the basic building block for all art • has the capacity to evoke thoughts and emotions • is thought of as a moving dot • can be used to measure distanceLine may be perceived as delicate, tentative, elegant,assertive, forceful, or even brutal with its variousexpressive qualities.
Fig 2.2, p.29 JACKSON POLLOCK. Number 14: Gray (1948). Enamel and gesso on paper. 22- 3/4” x 31”.
Lines can be…• Straight• Curved• Vertical• Horizontal• Diagonal• Zigzagged…
Types of Line• Contour Lines - created by the edge of things. They are perceived when three dimensional shapes curve back into space.• Actual lines - Are connected and continuous.• Implied lines – a discontinuous line that is completed by the viewer due to the context of the piece.• Psychological lines - A line created by a mental or perceptual connection. (Ex: When a character points towards and object.)
Fig 2.4 A, B, and C, p.30 Actual line (A) versus two kinds of implied lines, one formed by dots(B) and the other formed by psychologically connecting the edges of a series of straight lines(C).
More about line…• “Edges are perceived because the objects differ from the background in value, texture or color.”• Shading creates or models roundness.• “One of the hallmarks of Renaissance painting is the use of implied lines to create or echo the structures of the composition.”
Figure 2.3, p.28: EDWARD WESTON. Knees (1927). Gelatin silver print. 6-1⁄4” x 9-3⁄16”.
Figure 2.5, p.31: LEONARDO DA VINCI. Madonna of the Rocks (1483). Oil on panel, transferred to canvas. 78-1⁄2” x 48”.Figure 2.6, p.31: The pyramidal structure of the Madonna of the Rocks.
Figure 2.7 p.32 EMILY MARY OSBORNE. Nameless and Friendless (1834 - ?) Oil on Canvas.34” x 44”.
Functions of Line1. Outline and Shape2. Create Form3. Create Depth and Texture4. Suggest Direction and Movement What Lines Imply • Horizontal lines - suggest stability • Vertical lines - defy gravity and suggest assertiveness. • Diagonal lines - imply movement and directionality.
Outline and ShapeFigure 2.8, p.33 RIMMA GERLOVINA AND VALERIY GERLOVIN. Madonna and Child (1992).Chromogenic print.
Depth and TextureFigure 2.9, p.33 ELIZABETH CATLETT. Sharecropper (1968). Color linocut. 26” x 22”.
Ways to create Texture1. Modeling - the creation of the illusion of roundness or the third dimension through the use of light and shadow.2. Stippling - the use of a pattern of dots that thickens and thins.3. Hatching - using a series of closely spaced parallel lines to achieve shading.4. Cross-Hatching - a series of lines that run in a different direction and cross one another.
Fig. 2.11, p.34 Illusion of three-dimensionality.
Direction and MovementFigure 2.11, p.34 SANDRO BOTTICELLI. The Birth of Venus (c. 1482). Oil on canvas. 5’8-7⁄8” x 9’1-7⁄8”.
SHAPE• The areas within a composition that have boundaries separating them from what surrounds them; shapes make those areas distinct.• Shapes are formed when intersecting or connected lines enclose space.• Shape can also be communicated through patches of color and texture.
Fig. 2.12, p.35 JACOB LAWRENCE. Harriet Tubman Series, No. 4 (1939 - 1940). Caseintempera on gessoed hardboard. 12” x 17-7/8”.
The word FORM - is often used to speak about shapes in sculpture and architecture - 3D works of art.Figure 2.13, p.36 HELENE BRANDT. Mondrian Variations, Construction No. 3B with Four Red Squares andTwo Planes (1996). Welded steel, wood, paint. 22” x 19” x 17”.
Volume refers to the mass or bulk of a 3D work. It is the amount of space it contains.Fig. 2.14, p.36 GERRIT RIETVELDT. Schroeder House, Utrecht (1924).
Mass - In 3D art, the mass of an object refers to its bulk. Fig. 2.15, p. 37 RACHEL WHITEREAD. Holocaust Memorial, Vienna (2000).
Actual Mass versus Implied Mass• Actual mass occupies three-dimensional space and has measurable volume and weight• Implied mass creates the illusion of possessing volume, having weight and occupying three- dimensional space
Fig. 2.16, p.37 MARK TANSEY. Landscape (1994). Oil on Canvas. 181.6 cm x 365.8 cm.
Types of Shapes• 1. Geometric shapes - regular and precise, have an unnatural mathematical appearance. Example rectangles and circles. – Straight (rectilinear) – Curved (curvilinear)• 2. Organic shapes – resemble organism found in nature and thus have a natural appearance. – Biomorphic shapes – Amorphous shapes
Compare and Contrast Picasso and Colescott Rectilinear forms versus curvilinear forms presented by two artists
Figure 2.19, p.39 PABLO PICASSO. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907). Oil on canvas. 8’ x 7’8”.
Fig. 2.20, p.38 ROBERT COLESCOTT. Les Demoiselles d’Alabama: Vestidas (1985). Acrylic on canvas. 96” x 92”
Biomorphic Shapes• Are said to have a form like a biological entity.• From the Greek word morphē.• These shapes are not forced into being defined by nature or the laws of geometry, they ebb and flow as if directed by an inner life force.
Fig. 2.21, p.40 ELIZABETH MURRAY. Tangled Fall (1989–1990). Oil on canvas. 83-1/2” x 66” x 19”.
Positive and Negative Shapes• Positive shapes - the object(s) or figure(s) that the viewer focuses on.• Negative shapes - the empty space (or the space filled with other imagery) left over in the piece.
Figure-Ground Terminologyfigure - ground relationship - the relationship between the positive and negative shapes in a piece.figure - ground reversals - when the positive and negative shapes in a piece can be reversed or are ambiguous.“We tend to perceive things in context.”
Shape as Icon• Certain shapes carry with them immediate associations that resonate within a culture. – Christian Cross – Jewish Star of David – Chinese Yin Yang“Shape is a powerful visual element, and the representation of shape is a powerful design tool.”
Fig. 2.27, p.43 EDWARD STEICHEN. Rodin with His Sculptures “Victor Hugo” and “The Thinker” (1902). Carbonprint, toned.
LIGHT AND VALUE• Visible light is the part of the spectrum of electromagnetic energy that we can see.• Light enables us to see lines, shape and texture, as well as the visible spectrum through wavelengths of energy that we recognize through color. “Without light there is no art.”
Value• The value of a color of a surface is its lightness or darkness.• Value contrast - the degrees of difference between shades of gray.• Drawing objects or figures with a high value contrast makes them easy to see.• Value pattern describes the variation in light and dark within a composition.
ChiaroscuroThe gradual shifting from light to dark through a successive gradation of tones across a curved surface.
Fig. 2.34, p. 46 PIERRE-PAUL PRUD’HON. La Source (c. 1801). Black and white chalk on gray paper. 21 3/16 x 15 5/18 in.
Descriptive and Expressive Properties of Value• Values - blacks, grays and whites• May be used to describe objects• May be used to evoke emotional response in the viewer.
Fig. 2.36 p.47 LORRAINE O’GRADY Mlle Bourgeoise Noire Goes to the New Museum (1981).
COLOR• Language connects emotion with color.• Color can trigger emotional response in the observer.
PsychologicalDimensions of Color: Hue, Value, and SaturationHue - a term for the family of color.Cool - colors on the green-blue side of the color wheel.Warm - colors on the yellow-orange-red side of the colorwheel.Saturation - the pureness of the color. The purer thecolor, the greater its intensity.Shades - adding black to a hue.Tints - adding white to a hue.
Additive and Subtractive ColorsAdditive color - mixing lights.Subtractive color - mixing pigments.Primary colors - Color that can not be derived fromthe mixing of other colored light.– Red– Yellow– BlueSecondary colors - created from the overlap ormixing of 2 primary colors.– Orange– Green– Violet
Complementary versus Analogous Colors• In pigments, the primary colors are red, yellow and blue.• They can not be produced from mixing other colors.• Tertiary colors - created by mixing pigments or primary and secondary colors.• Analogous colors - hues that lie next to each other on the color wheel.• Complementary colors - colors that lie directly across from one another on the color wheel.
Local versus Optical Color• Local Color - the hue of an object as created by the colors its surface reflects under normal lighting condition.• Optical color - our perceptions of color, which can vary with lighting conditions.
Color as Symbol• We link mood with color.• Feelings and behavior can be symbolized with colors• The symbols and meanings of colors are culture specific.
Texture• Texture – Derived from the Latin word for “weaving” – Used to describe the surface character of things through the sense of touch. – An artist can emphasize or distort the texture of an object in order to evoke emotional response in the viewer.• Impasto - a thick buildup of paint on the surface of the canvas.
Fig. 2.47, p.53 LEON KOSSOFF. Portrait of Mrs. Peto No. 2 (c. 1972-73). Oil on board.
Types of Texture• Actual Texture - is tactile, texture you can touch. Example: impasto, which is the most common type of texture used in painting.• Visual Texture - simulated texture. It looks like a texture but can’t really be felt. Example: trompe l’oeil, a French word and style of painting, that means to trick the eye.• Subversive Texture - texture chosen or created by the artist to subvert or undermine our ideas about the objects they depict.
Fig. 2.50, p.54 RACHEL RUYSCH. Flower Still Life (after 1700). Oil on Canvas. 29-3/4” x 23-7/8”.
SPACE• Objects exist in three-dimensional space.• Some art is truly 3D, such as sculpture and architecture.• Other art tries to depict space on a 2D surface, such as painting.
You can create the illusion of depth byoverlapping objects. Fig. 2.56, p. 56 Overlapping circles and arcs.
Relative Size and Linear Perspective• The further objects are from the viewer, the smaller they look.• Things that are closer to us look larger and things that are further away look smaller.• Artist use different techniques like relative size and linear perspective to create the illusion of depth in a piece of art.
The Illusion of DepthVanishing point - the point at which parallel lines conetogether, or converge.Horizon line - the line where the line of sight stops and onwhich the artist often places the vanishing point.Vantage point - where (or the height) the viewer is lookingfrom.One-point perspective - when parallel lines in a picturecome together at one point, the vanishing point, on the horizonline.Two-point perspective - when parallel lines in a picturecome together at 2 different points on the horizon line.
Fig. 2.64, p.61 RAFFAELLO SANZIO (CALLED RAPHAEL). Philosophy, or School of Athens(1509-1511).Fig. 2.65, p.61 Perspective in School of Athens.
Fig. 2-66, p.62 GUSTAVE CAILLEBOTTE. Paris Street: Rainy Day (1877). Oil on Canvas. 83-1/2” x 108-1/4”.Fig. 2.67, p.62 Perspective in Caillebottoes’s Paris Street: Rainy Day.
Atmospheric Perspective• Also called aerial perspective.• Texture gradient - closer objects are perceived as having rougher or more detailed surfaces.• Brightness gradient - distant objects are less intense.
Fig. 2.69, p.63 SYLVIA PLIMACK MANGOLD. Schunnemunk Mountain (1979). Oil on canvas. 60” x 80-1⁄8”.
Time and MotionActual Motion: – Kinetic Art - art that moves. Example: Mobiles – Photography
Fig. 2.70. p.64 ALEXANDER CALDER. The Star (1960). Polychrome sheet metal and steel wire. 35 3⁄4” x 53 3⁄4” x 17 5⁄8".
Implied Motion• Stopped Time - a style of art that “stops time” in order to imply motion.• Time Implied & Motion Implied - some works try to imply that motion or time has occurred.
Fig. 2.72, p.65 GIANLORENZO BERNINI. Apollo and Daphne (1622–1624). Marble. 7’6”.
The Illusion of Motion• There is a difference between implied motion and the illusion of motion.• One implies that the motion has already occurred and the other implies that the motion is happening right now.Examples:• Early photographic experiments of multiple exposures of motion.• The blurring of shapes and the repetition of linear patterns blurring the contours of a figure.• Blurring outlines to create the illusion of motion.• Op Art !• Cinematography and video• Stroboscopic motion
Fig. 2.73, p.66 THOMAS EAKINS. Man Pole Vaulting (c. 1884). Photograph.
Op Art• Op Art - Optical Art, is based on creating optical sensations of movement through the repetition and manipulation of color, shape, and line.• Afterimage - when we look at a color for a long period of time and then look away you may briefly see the opposite color due to fatigue of the cornea in the eyes.