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What Are The Elements And Principles Of Art And Design?
Elements of Art
The elements of art are components or parts of a work of art that can be isolated and defined. They are the building blocks used to create a work of art.
SHAPE AND FORM
VALUE AND TONE
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.
A Storm on the Mediterranean Coast, Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1767
Horizontal lines suggest a feeling of rest or repose because objects parallel to the earth are at rest. In this landscape, horizontal lines also help give a sense of space. The lines delineate sections of the landscape, which recede into space. They also imply the continuation of the landscape beyond the picture plane to the left and right.
Saint Bavo, Haarlem, Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, 1634
Vertical lines often communicate a sense of height because they are perpendicular to the earth, extending upwards toward the sky. In this church interior, vertical lines suggest spirituality, rising beyond human reach toward the heavens.
Cabinet, French, about 1785
Horizontal and vertical lines used in combination communicate stability and solidity. Rectilinear forms with 90-degree angles are structurally stable. This stability suggests permanence and reliability.
A Storm on the Mediterranean Coast, Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1767
Diagonal lines convey a feeling of movement. Objects in a diagonal position are unstable. Because they are neither vertical nor horizontal, they are either about to fall or are already in motion. The angles of the ship and the rocks on the shore convey a feeling of movement or speed in this stormy harbour scene.
Pool, Saint-Cloud, Eugène Atget, 1915–1919
The curve of a line can convey energy. Soft, shallow curves recall the curves of the human body and often have a pleasing, sensual quality and a softening effect on the composition. The edge of the pool in this photograph gently leads the eye to the sculptures on the horizon.
Shape and form
Shape and form define objects in space. Shapes have two dimensions–height and width–and are usually defined by lines. Forms exist in three dimensions, with height, width, and depth.
Studies for a Ceiling Decoration, Charles de la Fosse, about 1680
The shape has only height and width. A shape is usually, though not always, defined by line, which can provide its contour. In this image, rectangles and ovals dominate the composition. They describe the architectural details for an illusionist ceiling fresco.
Rearing Horse, Adriaen de Vries, 1610–1615
The form has depth as well as width and height. The three-dimensional form is the basis of sculpture, furniture, and decorative arts. Three-dimensional forms can be seen from more than one side, such as this sculpture of a rearing horse.
Commode, Jean-François Oeben, about 1760
Geometric shapes and forms include mathematical, named shapes such as squares, rectangles, circles, cubes, spheres, and cones. Geometric shapes and forms are often man-made. However, many natural forms also have geometric shapes. This cabinet is decorated with designs of geometric shapes.
Gold Wreath, Greek, 300–100 B.C.
Organic shapes and forms are typically irregular or asymmetrical. Organic shapes are often found in nature, but man-made shapes can also imitate organic forms. This wreath uses organic forms to simulate leaves and berries.
Real space is three-dimensional. Space in a work of art refers to a feeling of depth or three dimensions. It can also refer to the artist's use of the area within the picture plane. The area around the primary objects in a work of art is known as negative space, while the space occupied by the primary objects is known as positive space.
He Can No Longer at the Age of 98, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, 1819–1823
Positive and negative space
The relationship of positive to negative space can greatly affect the impact of a work of art. In this drawing, the man and his shadow occupy the positive space, while the white space surrounding him is the negative space. The disproportionate amount of negative space accentuates the figure's vulnerability and isolation.
The perfect illusion of three-dimensional space in a two-dimensional work of art is something that many artists, such as Pieter Saenredam, laboured to achieve. The illusion of space is achieved through perspective drawing techniques and shading.
Light reflected off objects. Color has three main characteristics: hue (red, green, blue, etc.), value (how light or dark it is), and intensity (how bright or dull it is). Colors can be described as warm (red, yellow) or cool (blue, grey), depending on which end of the colour spectrum they fall.
Christ Crowned with Thorns, Gerrit van Honthorst, about 1620
Value/Tone describes the brightness of colour. Artists use colour value to create different moods. Dark colours in a composition suggest a lack of light, as in a night or interior scene. Dark colours can often convey a sense of mystery or foreboding.
Light colours often describe a light source or light reflected within the composition. In this painting, the dark colours suggest a night or interior scene. The artist used light colours to describe the light created by the candle flame.
The Annunciation, Dieric Bouts, 1450–1455
Intensity describes the purity or strength of a colour. Bright colours are undiluted and are often associated with positive energy and heightened emotions. Dull colours have been diluted by mixing with other colours and create a sedate or serious mood. In this image, the artist captured both the seriousness and the joy of the scene with the dull grey stone interior and the bright red drapery.
The surface quality of an object that we sense through touch. All objects have a physical texture. Artists can also convey texture visually in two dimensions.
In a two-dimensional work of art, the texture gives a visual sense of how an object depicted would feel in real life if touched: hard, soft, rough, smooth, hairy, leathery, sharp, etc. In three-dimensional works, artists use actual texture to add a tactile quality to the work.
Portrait of Agostino Pallavicini, Anthony van Dyck, 1621–1623
Texture depicted in two-dimensions
Artists use colour, line, and shading to imply textures. In this painting, the man's robe is painted to simulate silk. The ability to convincingly portray fabric of different types was one of the marks of a great painter during the 17th century.
Desk, French, 1692–1700
The surface of this writing desk is metallic and hard. The hard surface is functional for an object that would have been used for writing. The smooth surface of the writing desk reflects light, adding sparkle to this piece of furniture.
Light in almost all cultures symbolizes energy, It is a part of a spectrum that stimulates the eyes and produces a visual sensation.
The value of a colour of a surface in its lightness or darkness, therefore White is lighter then grey and grey is lighter than black.
We perceive sensation in relation to their background. Picture and artwork that strongly contrast light and dark effects often make a forceful difference between figure and background.
Light in a work of art can be actual or depicted. Actual light may fall across a sculpture to reveal its contours and textures.
Principles of art
Pattern and rhythm