Elements of Art
March 21, 2016 at 8:54 PM
Sugar Skull Kitty - Day of the Dead © 2015 Monica Gunderson - All Rights Reserved; Unauthorized Reproduction Prohibited
Fine Art Basics: The Elements of Art
The elements of art are considered as building blocks used to create artwork. Each of these elements or component parts can be used together to create a work of art. In fact, one would not be able to create art without using one of the seven art elements; without it there would simply be no art. In understanding of the basic elements, an artist is able to convey their message, imagery, thoughts, and/or feelings within the completed work of art. Different elements can show array of qualities such as harmony and contrast, movement and rhythm, growth and structure, space and depth, noise and calm, along with various other emotions which create great art.
The Seven Elements of Art
- Line: Line is one of the most important elements of visual composition and is also an important element to look for when studying a piece of art. A line is a path from one point to another left by a moving point such as a paintbrush, line from an ink pen or pencil. Line can be thick or thin; long or short, thick or smooth. Line has several aspects that create impact in an artwork such as movement, position, emotion, height, width, length, and direction of an image form. Several lines used together can create the sense of form or a three dimensional image. Multiple lines can also be used for different shading techniques with drawings and other creative works of art. In addition, certain lines also convey different feelings or movement, can be used together for different effects, and can also be used in different shading techniques. The different types of lines include:
- Contour Line: a curved line or implied line that can show the edges or outline of a shape along with the illusion of form, depth and definite shape. Deep curves can suggest confusion or turmoil while soft curves suggest comfort and relaxation. In shading, drawing multiple contour lines can create depth and shape within an artwork. For example when using the contour hatching shadowing technique when drawing a vase, ball, or part of the human body creates form and the illusion of an three-dimensional object within a two-dimensional space.
The rays behind the sugar skull are an example of diagonal lines.
- Diagonal Line: a diagonal line creates a sense of direction or movement. They can be created in any direction such as from up to down, or zigzag and it can convey an emotion of rush or activity, and a sense of speed. Diagonal lines can give a sense of movement or convey a feeling of direction or action. When used in conjunction with vertical lines, one can create a sense of shape and volume or depth and size, in addition; when diagonal lines are used parallel to each other it causes the illusion of perspective or near and far. Many diagonal lines can also be used together in a shading technique called crosshatching.
The line in the background or 'horizon line' is an example of horizontal line.
- Horizontal Line: horizontal lines are drawn left to right and covey a sense of rest because it is drawn as parallel to the earth giving a sense of repose or rest and space. Objects drawn parallel to the earth create a sense of gravity and provide a calming effect.
The trees depicted in this artwork are an example of vertical lines.
- Vertical Line: vertical lines are lines that travel up and down and create a sense of height or extending upwards. Like horizontal lines, vertical lines can also create a sense of calm when the lines are parallel to each other. In contrast, vertical lines can also create a bold statement suggesting power, strength, and solidity. Many vertical lines can be used together to create the shadowing technique, hatching.
- Horizontal and Vertical Lines: when horizontal and vertical lines are used together, they still create a sense of order and calm. Horizontal and vertical lines used together provide the illusion that the object is fixed or settled and not likely to fall over. Vertical and horizontal lines used together can also be used in the shading technique of crosshatching.
Examples of thick and thin lines, notice the difference in thickness of line between these two images.
- Thick or Thin Lines: think and thin lines can also convey meanings and emotion. Thinner lines suggest an object being fragile or weakness, but they can also convey a sense of delicacy. In contrast, a thick line appears to be heavy, strong, and creates a bold statement or making the object stand out.
Example of shape. Enclosed space in this drawing includes the owl and moon.
- Shape: an enclosed space by a line that defines the object in space. Shapes are of two dimensions, length and width. There are also two different types of shape which include:
- Geometric: shapes that are geometric and can be described by using mathematical terms. Geometric shapes are commonly found in manmade object, but can also be found in nature such as the spiral in the seashell or the symmetrical shape of a snowflake. The examples of geometric shapes include circle, square, triangle, rectangle, octagon, and etcetera.
The clouds in this painting are a prime example of organic shape.
- Organic: shapes that are free form or organic are irregular shapes and are more often found in nature. Examples of organic shape are clouds, puddles, animals, and so on.
- Form: an enclosed space represented as a three-dimensional geometric or free-form figure with length, width, and height. Examples of form are sphere, cone, cube, cone, cylinder, organic forms, and etcetera. There are two types of form:
This is an example of illusionary form. See how the bricks look like they are a real window frame, and the mountains and hills recede in the background.
- Illusionary Form: created by using perspective technique to show a three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface.
- Real Form: commonly seen in three-dimensional art such as sculpture.
- Space: the distance or areas around between or within the components of an artwork. Space has width, height and depth and can be seen in three-dimensional art forms as well as two-dimensional artworks that appear to be three-dimensional such as a drawn done in perspective creating a feeling of depth and volume.
- Positive and Negative Space: positive space includes the areas of the object in an artwork that are the areas of interest while the negative space is the area that surrounds or is around the subjects or areas of interest. Positive and negative space determines and overall composition in an artwork. It can create a sense of light or dark, open or closed, deep or shallow.
- Atmospheric Perspective: atmospheric perspective or aerial perspective is when object that are close are sharp and clear while objects further away are faded and less detailed. Color is also used in this technique such as the colors are muted on forms that are represented further away within a piece of art such as mountains in the distance.
- Overlapping: Space created on a two-dimensional picture plane by objects overlapping each other giving it a three-dimensional illusion.
An example of linear perspective.
- Linear Perspective: using parallel lines represented as converging and gives an appearance of distance and depth.
- Placement: when objects are positioned lower on the picture plane appear to be closer while objects that are placed higher on the picture plane appear further away.
- Color: a visual element that can convey strong emotions and can be used to create mood or atmosphere of an art piece. Colors can also represent a sense of feeling such as blue or gray can be seen as cool or cold, yellow and orange can represent warm, while red can be seen as being hot. Find out how to use color within an artwork.
- Hue: a term used for any color in the color wheel such as red, yellow, blue, green, etcetera.
- Intensity: is how bright or dark an object is.
An example of Value.
- Value: can be in color or black, gray, and white, and is the lightness (tint) or darkness (shade) of a color.
- Texture: real (tactile) texture or perceived (implied) texture of an artwork. Tactile texture being an artwork that you can feel the texture such as a sculpture, while implied texture is an illusion of texture within a painting or drawing. However, in some paintings, texture may also be tactile, by the artist applying thick paint to a canvas to create the desired texture.
Monica Gunderson Fine Artist