Basics pt1 elements of art

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Basics pt1 elements of art

  1. 1. The Elements of Visual Art Elements are the basic building blocks of any artform. All art can be broken down into its elements or component parts. However, it is important to remember that in any successful work of art, the elements work together. The Arts combine a wide variety of different techniques, methods and mediums. The different types of art share elements but some have unique elements. For example, music has the elements of actual sound and time that can only be suggested in a painting. The Visual Arts include: Sculpture, Drawing, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Collage and any combinationa. The visual arts are usually static. That means they don't move by themselves. The artist makes a painting and then hangs it on the wall. The painting might have lines that imply action, but they don't move. We can spend as much time as we like with static art. We can view it for five seconds in a gallery or we can purchase a print, hang it on our wall, and look at it for hours on end. Static art does not have the elements of sound, motion and time. Theater and Film Making combine sound, motion and time with the visual art elements to usually tell a story. It is rare that a movie or theater production does not have a story, however, a newer artform, the performance piece, will often work with just an idea. Music lacks the visual elements but uses sound and time. The visual elements can only be suggested. Dance combines the elements of music with motion. It can also use the visual elements such as shape, line, color and form. Photography lacks the elements of line, shape or texture. It has mark, because it uses a process that when viewed under a magnifier reveals dots called grain. Photography has value, light and dark, color and form. Line, shape and texture can only be phographed or implied because the viewer sees them. The camera only "sees" light and dark and records it as a point. Special high contrast films used by printers, called lith films, record the shape made by light. Points must be added with specialized screens. They cannot record form. Filmmaking uses the visual elements. If you look at the individual frame it has most or all the elements of a painting, photograph or drawing. Because they are in motion and because we are distracted by the story, we tend not to look closely at the individual elements that create the image. We look at the picture and not into the picture. To look into the picture you need to "freeze the frame."
  2. 2. The Elements of Visual Art Mark Line Shape Form Value Color
  3. 3. Texture Space Mark - Spot - Point - Dot - Grain - Pixel Spot, also called Mark, Point or Dot is the simplest visual unit in any art work or composition. It is the most basic of the elements. Marks, spots and points are made by hand, dots are produced mechanically on printing plates, grain is formed chemically in photography and pixels are generated by computers. They are all the basic unit for image creation. Most often the mark is used to create another image and the artist will want to hide the mark. It is rare to find artwork where the the mark is the dominate feature. Many students who are learning art attempt a technique called pointillism. It is usually taught as the first project of a beginning art class. The students make an image using the
  4. 4. mark made by the very tip of the pen or pencil, called a point. All too often though they grow impatient with the process and tap away rapidly, losing the shape of the point in the process. Those students that are careful and patient can produce very impressive works with the technique. Professional artists work slowly and carefully with the technique using a mechanical pen that makes a consistent dot. The images below show different ways that basic image units are used. In the image above the pixel "mark" is too small to see. It is hidden.
  5. 5. If the resolution is greatly reduced, we see the individual pixels.
  6. 6. Photographic images are formed from grain. If a photo is greatly enlarged, we see the grain.
  7. 7. Images from printers are formed from dots. The dot is the smallest unit. Four colors of ink are used: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.
  8. 8. A painter uses strokes of a brush to make each invdividual mark.
  9. 9. Video uses scan lines.
  10. 10. Line If we touch the surface of paper only once we make a mark. When we continue to move the mark without releasing the drawing tool we are drawing a line. When the artist picks up the drawing tool the line ends. In geometry we connect the two marks to make a straight line, but in art, the straight line is only one type of many different lines that are possible. In art we are more interested in how the line might make us feel, or in what shape the line will eventually produce. Perhaps you have heard the statment, "I could never be an artist, I can't even draw a straight line." However anybody can draw a straight line with a ruler. It takes very little skill. Lines can be straight, curved, curled, twisted, nervous, and excited. Lines can wander aimlessly over the page or they can precisely describe a shape or form. Lines can be carefully drawn to create the illusion of a real object or they can wander randomly to let the artist see new forms. Lines can be thick or thin. Lines drawn mechanically are given a size in points (a point is equal to a pixel, 72 per inch.) When a line becomes too thick it becomes a shape.
  11. 11. The drawing below is made completely with lines, however shapes are formed. It is rare that a line does not make a shape. Notice that the shape of the head does not have a line drawn around it. The shape is made where the lines end. The drawing below is made from one continuous line. Although the beginning does not touch the end, many shapes are still created. Most people cannot see the drawing below as one shape. They will see it as many similar, joining shapes .
  12. 12. The drawing below is a pencil sketch by French artist Eugene Delacroix. Notice how active the line are. They were drawn quickly. The erasor was used to make a mark and not to correct a mistake. Many students make the mistake of using the erasor to correct a "mistake". It is better to draw right on top of a line that you think is wrong.
  13. 13. Lines can be made with pencils, pens and brushes. Many students begin exploring line with a technique called contour drawing. The edge of any shape is also a line; this is important in photography and filmmaking. A line could be described as a long, thin mark. You could also say that it is a sequence of adjoining points. Most people, when looking at art can easily identify a line. Filmmakers will use a type of invisible line called a vector. Vectors lead the eye to what the director wants you to see. When a character looks at another character she creates an eyeline. This is an invisible line however the audience will unconsciously follow it. The edges of shapes are also lines that can be used to direct the viewer to the center of attention or the next shot. Good filmmakers understand how to use the elements to move the eye of the audience.
  14. 14. Shape When a line touches itself it become a shape. Although the word shape has many different meanings we want to define shape as an area that is filled with a flat color, pattern or texture. For example, if you draw a circle with a crayon and fill it in completely you will have the shape of a circle. It is not necessary to fill the area to create a shape, however, psychologically, if it is closed, it is probably perceived as filled. The image below uses a variety of shapes.
  15. 15. Value Any color or grey has many different shades or values. Value is the darkness or lightness of a color or grey. Value can give us the light of light on a surface. The image above looks more three dimensional because of the varying values of grey. Greyscales are used to measure the darkness or lightness of a grey. The more levels of grey in a scale, the more difficult it is to tell the difference between adjacent levels. The pryamid below is composed of grey squares. The further down the pyramid, the more greys, but it is more difficult to discern a difference in the values. The squares appear to have a gradient, that is, they vary in value appearing lighter on one side. This is an optical illusion. All the squares are filled with a flat grey that has no variation in tone.
  16. 16. Color also has value. The image below show different shades of orange.
  17. 17. Color Color is the result of the reflection or absorption of visible radiation (light) by a given surface. We are able to differentiate areas of the visible spectrum and identify them and name them as separate regions called colors. This may sound complicated, however it is often difficult to define what is most obvious to us. We can easily define things we make or do, however color is always with us and we could hardly imagine a world without color. How different our art might be if we could only see shades of gray. Of all the elements, color has the greatest psychological impact. Color can make us feel different emotions, whether we want to feel them or not. Fast food companies use the color orange so we will eat faster and leave the restaurant more quickly. Red attracts our attention and food companies use the color of the foods they sell on their packaging. It is rare to have a blue wrapper on a candy bar, but you will commonly see two or three hues of brown. Colors can calm or irritate us. They can make us feel happy or gloomy. They can make a statement. Learning how to use color requires study and practice. Most art schools require a class or two in color theory to earn a degree. The individual color is called "hue." Many different names are given to hues, for example, chartreuse, a yellow-green. The primary colors are red, yellow and blue
  18. 18. By mixing the primary colors we obtain the secondary colors, orange, green and violet. We can continue to mix the colors obtaining a third level called "tertiary" The color wheel shows the primary, secondary and tertiary colors. The colors opposite each other are the complements.
  19. 19. Complementary colors are opposite. Mixing them together results in gray. . Mixing white with any pure color results in a tint. Mixing black results in a shade. This is what we mean by color value or light and dark. the image below shows different tints and shades of red. Notice the three dimensional look. Color also has intensity. A pure hue is said to have full intensity. When it is mixed with gray or its complementary color, it loses intensity. Below shows a full intensity green diminishing to a gray. The greenest area if full intensity.
  20. 20. The study of color is called "color theory".
  21. 21. Texture Surface or Texture? When we describe the surface of an object we often use the word texture. Most definitions of the elements usually name texture as the element instead of surface. However in reality objects have a surface on which the texture is applied. Often there is no texture or the texture is purely illusion. For simplicity we will use the two terms interchangeably and defer any discussion concerning semantics for a later time. Texture thus is the quality of the surface, whether it be rough, smooth, shiney, hard, and soft. Texture appeals to our sense of touch. Many art supplies have an inherent texture (their own texture). Water color and drawing paper can have a rough texture, canvas for painters has different weaves. Metal, clay,
  22. 22. stone, and wax all have their own textures. Various tools can be used to create texture on a surface. The two paintings above use the texture of the paper. Notice how the black is "scumbled" to bring out the surface texture. Music has an equivilant to texture called timbre (pronounced tamber). Narrators are often chosen because of distinct vocal textures (timbre). Film, video and photography because they are all recording of light, do not have true surface texture. Touching the surface of a television screen tells you nothing about the film while touching the surface of a sculpture gives you information about the piece. The grain of film however could be considered a textural effect. Digital video has many different filters that give the image a textural look. Photographic media allows you to record any texture from rust and rock to rabbit fur with the click of a button. The texture however is purely visual. In film we speak about the overall quality of the piece in terms of texture. For example, "gritty" is used to describe the feel of a film. We do not touch the film, however texture can be applied to how we feel about a film.
  23. 23. Space All objects occupy space. All objects are surrounded by space. Whenever an artist creates a mark, she also creates the space around the mark. We are drawn to a work of art partially because of the space that it created. When we see a rendering of a figure, we also see the space around the figure, however, most viewers are not conscious of all the spacial relationships and focus only on what is familiar to them. Sculpture has real space. You can walk around a sculpture and view all sides of its surface. The space surrounding a sculpture is called the negative space. The shape of negative space is as important as the positive space. Experienced artists are very aware of negative space and use it deliberately. Some arts, when drawing from life, will draw the negative space before focusing on the positive space. The illusion of space is created in visual art thought the relationships of shape. Two dimensional art occupies space, for example, the rectangle hanging on a wall or the surface of a television screen, however it is the illusion of space that the artist wants to create. It takes no skill to hang a piece of cardboard on the wall. Yes it has positive and
  24. 24. negative space, but it has little or no aesthetic value. When a shape is drawn on a surface, it automatically creates a space. We call the total space "the picture plane," we call the space around the shape or form "the ground." The relationship between a shape or form and its background is called "the figure ground relationship". Remember, the space in two dimensional art is an illusion (it is not real). Your mind creates the space. You are really looking at a flat object with marks. It is our mind that creates the space. In cultures that have not been exposed to spacial illusion, it is difficult for them to see the illusion of depth and three dimensions when looking at a picture. The perception of space below is created through illusion. In actuality it is flat. The illusion of space and depth can be created using perspective, size, overlap, color and value.

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