ELEMENTS OF DESIGNElements are the building blocks of all two and threedimensional work. They are the basic visual vocabulary thatis used to build complex pieces of artKnowing the elements allows us to get under the surfaceappearances of a piece of art and grasp its structure.In other words: Elements are the things that make up thepainting, drawing, design etc.
ELEMENT #1 - LINELine is the path of a pointmoving through space. Contour lines define shape repeated lines make texture or modelling converging lines (like in the image to the right) give the illusion of space.
ELEMENT #1 - LINELines can be emotional: geometric lines are tense andmechanical, organic ones are fluid and natural.
ELEMENT #1 - LINELine can be considered in two In the image below,ways: either the linear marks Leonardo da Vinci used amade with a pen or brush, or soft, sensitive line tothe edge created when two create a graceful imageshapes meetLine is a mark on a surface thatdescribes a shape or outline. Types of line can includeactual, implied, vertical,horizontal, diagonal and Leonardo da Vinci - “Angel for thecontour. Madonna of the Rocks” c. 1383-85
ELEMENT #1 - LINEThis image has the samesubject as the Leonardo daVinci image seen in the lastslide...However, the artistWillem de Kooning hascreated a very differentfeeling by using a heavy,gestural line. “Woman 1” by Willem de Kooning 1950-52 - Oil on canvas
ELEMENT #1 - LINE The womans face in this image is created with a mechanical line creating an emotionally detached feeling. Although the subject matter is the same in all of the three works we just looked at, the differences in line quality have created works with very different impact. How you use line is one of the most important decisions to be made in creating a work of art
ELEMENT #2 AND #3 -SHAPE / FORMShape is a closed 2D area thathas a definite outline createdby a line, colour, texture orvalue that separates it from A circle is a shape, a sphere isthe background. its related 3-D form.Form is a shape given 3-dimensional volume by usingtexture, colour or value.
ELEMENT #2 AND #3 -SHAPE / FORMThe forms in the image on the right(ocean liner) are clearly defined. Theimage looks 3D because of theperspective and shading.By contrast, this folk painting of a shiprelies on simple shapes to show us theimage
ELEMENT #4 - TEXTURETexture refers to the actualsurface of any object, natural ormanufactured. There are threetypes:Simulated – A realisticrendering or photograph oftextureActual – The feeling of thesurface on the actual objects Texture = surface quality.Invented – An invented texture We experience actual texture when we touch objects andmade by the artist with tools or feel their roughness, smoothness or patterns, which wea pattern made with the media. can simulate or imply in images.
ELEMENT #4 - TEXTURE Texture is the dominant element in this work. The work takes advantage of our expectations of how texture should be used: fur may delight the touch but it repels the tongue. A cup Meret Openheim – Object (Paris 1936) and spoon, of course, are made to be put in the This is a surrealist mouth. sculpture!
ELEMENT #5 - COLOUR Colours also have symbolic and emotional associations. Associations are culturally based. (i.e. Red=anger, Blue=sadness, White = purity)Colour is our visual response to thewavelength of light reflected from asurface. Colour has three properties:hue, value and intensity. Colours canbe used in a wide variety ofcombinations called harmonies.Some of these are monochromatic,complementary or analogous.
Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh Barlett Pears by John Olin Gardner Untitled by Christine TaylorCOLOUR HARMONY COMBINATIONS: WHICH IS WHICH?Monochromatic? Complementary? Analogous?
The painting by Phyllis Bramson (left) has intense, complimentary colours that equate to strong conflicting emotions. The other work, “Zodiac” by Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939), uses subdued, analogous colours to create a very different feeling.USES OF COLOUR
ELEMENT #6 - VALUEValue - relative light and darkness.The overall lightness and lack of contrast inthe left image conveys a sense of spiritualityand harmony. This is a light value work. The dramatic mood of “Paradise Lost” by Gustave Dore (1866) is created, in large part, by the high contrast of light and dark. This is a dark value work.
ELEMENT # 7 - SPACESpace is created by usingother elements andprinciples.In visual art, space can bereal (as in architecture) ora three dimensionalillusion (perspective).
ELEMENT # 7 - SPACEAn artist can create theillusion of depth usingoverlapping, diminishingscale, atmosphericperspective, linearperspective, warm and coolcolours and verticallocation. Raphaels School of Athens - 1509
POSITIVE / NEGATIVESPACEArtists can use the empty space(called ‘negative’ space) to createinteresting contrast in an artwork Healthy Living Ad View of the Pyramid. Louvre, Paris.
ELEMENT # 7 - SPACE Although his use of linear perspective is not accurate, the painting by Vincent Van Gogh still implies an illusion of space/ depth.The Bedroom at Arles, c. 1887 Vincent Van Gogh
PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN When two or more elements are used in a composition, they begin to interact. The ability to control this interaction is the main task of the artist or designer. The Principles of Design are the laws that govern the way that line, colour or other elements combine for certain emotional or aesthetic effects. By comparison, the elements of design are the components of design themselves, the objects to be arranged.
Why is this building famous? Bonnano de Pisa. Bell Tower of the Cathedral at Pisa. Begun 1174.
PRINCIPLE #1: BALANCE Balance is a physical or visual equilibrium. There are three main types in art: formal (symmetrical), informal (asymmetrical) and radial balance A sense of balance is innate; as children we develop a sense of balance in our bodies and observe balance in the world around us. Imbalance disturbs us. Balance makes a design or painting more comfortable for viewers. In assessing pictorial balance, we always assume some sort of vertical axis. We usually expect to see some type of equal visual weight distribution on either side of the centre line.
SYMMETRICAL VS. ASYMMETRICALThe second illustration is balanced because bright colourshave more visual weight than dark ones – thus it takes twodark squares of the same size to balance one red square ofthe same size.
INFORMAL BALANCEThis painting shows asymmetrical/informal balance – objects are notexactly the same on the right andleft side, yet the painting stillappears to have the same amountof visual weight on the right andleft side. Giotto. Madonna Enthroned. C. 1310. Uffizi, Florence.
SYMMETRICAL /FORMAL BALANCEThis famous abstractpainting is perfectlysymmetrical. This is alsocalled “formal balance”.Can you place the line ofsymmetry on the painting? Frank Stella. Gran Cairo. 1962. Whitney Museum of American Art New York.
RADIAL BALANCEIn radial balance, all theelements radiate or circleout from a common centralpoint. It is used frequentlyin architecture, and onlysometimes in paintingbecause it creates anobvious focal point. Photo of the coffers on Pantheon ceiling - Rome
PRINCIPLE #2:EMPHASISEmphasis is the creation of visual importance or focus.Emphasis is often created through contrasting one of theelements like colour. It is used to attract and guide theviewer’s attention or to convey action or emotion.
TO CREATE EMPHASIS:Arrange most elementshorizontally and insert a fewvertical forms.Have most elements in your designas regular geometric shapes andlines and insert an organic shape,as in Frank Miller’s image on theright. Frame of “Sin City” by Frank Miller
TO CREATE EMPHASIS: Create a work in which many objects are approximately the same size, and one is much larger. “Earth” Jeff Soto
TO CREATE EMPHASIS:Make a work of art inwhich most natural formsare distorted, but there isone occasionalrecognizable section. Lucas Samaras Photo-Transformation November 22, 1973
TO CREATE EMPHASIS:Create a work in whichmost colours are dark, andcontrast with brightcolours. Lucas Samaras Large Drawing #45. 1966. Museum of Modern Art, New York.
PRINCIPLE #3: RHYTHM Rhythm is a flow or movement in a design through patterns in timing, spacing, repeating or accenting of one of the elements. In visual art, rhythm is basically related to movement. As a design principle, it is based on repetition.
PRINCIPLE #3: RHYTHM The repetition in this work creates a sense of movement. Marcel DuChamp Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2. 1912. Philadelphia Museum of Art.
PATTERNS MAKERHYTHM Rhythm can always be achieved through patterning. Artists can use exact patterns to create rhythm. Andy Warhol. ‘Marilyn, Andy Warhol. 1961 Campbell’s Soup Cans. 1962.
PRINCIPLE #4: UNITYUnity occurs when one ormore of the elements aresimilar across the design.It creates a sense of dignityand cohesion.
AN EASY WAY TO GAINUNITY...to make separate elements look as if they belong together- isby proximity, or simply putting these elements closetogether.Think about it: in the hallway at lunch, can you see whichgroups of people are friends (unified), by how they sit andstand together in the hall? Audrey Flack. 1977-78. Wheel of Fortune.
UNITYUnity can be achieved by repetitionIn this painting, viewers can see unity through the repetition ofshape. Rectangles, triangles and circles repeat, and in addition,viewers can see an amazing number of parallel diagonals. Pablo Picasso. The Studio. 1927-28.
UNITY OF SHAPEExamples of unity through repetition and overlapping Audrey Flack. Crayola. 1972-73.
UNITY OF COLOUR “Red Sings the Blues” by Andrea LyonUnity is created here by theuse of similar (analogous)colours
PRINCIPLE #5: VARIETYVariety occurs whenchanges in the elementsare used to create interestThe differences give adesign visual andconceptual interest. Salvador Dali. The Temptation of St. Anthony. 1946.Often, variety involves theunexpected use of contrast Surrealist artists often use thein size, colour, or texture. concept of variety to create interest in their work.
PRINCIPLE #6:PROPORTION Proportion is the relationship of parts to the whole or one thing to another. Proportion refers to relative size, size measured against some mental norm or standard.The Surrealist painter Rene Magritte soaltered the normal scale relationships thatwe encounter in life that he created theintriguing painting seen here. Rene Magritte. La Chambre D’Ecoute.
PROPORTION Some works of art are known particularly for their sheer size Mount Rushmore. Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen Spoonbridge and Cherry, 1985-1988
PROPORTIONViewers have a general idea about whatis right and wrong in the proportionsof the human body.Many of our ideas of humanproportions were set almost 2500years ago during the period of GreekClassical art. Although no figure wasconsidered perfect, it was the role ofthe artist to create the perfection notfound in nature. Polyclitus. The Spear Carrier. Roman copy of Greek original. 450-440 BC. National Museum, Naples.
MESSING WITHPROPORTION In Picasso’s The Old Guitarist distorted body proportions are evident. The old man has elongated thin arms and legs, enlarged body, hands and feet. These distortions, along with the colour, become an expressive statement on the debilitation of old age. Picasso. The Old Guitarist. 1903. The Art Institute of Chicago.
How can YOU use your knowledge of the Elements & Principles of Design to change your art?