Elements and Principles of Art

Kiley Wecker

Line

Definition

Lines are marks that span a distance between two points (or the path of a moving point). As an art element, line pertains to the use of various marks, outlines and implied lines in artwork and design. A line has a width, direction, and length. A line's width is sometimes called its "thickness". Lines are sometimes called "strokes", especially when referring to lines in digital artwork.

Example

I chose this picture because it is interesting how the straight and curved lines come together to make an eye capturing picture. It is also a good example of all the different types of lines you can have.

Shape

Definition

A shape is an enclosed space defined by a line or by contrast to its surroundings. Shapes are two-dimensional (flat): circle, square, triangle, organic blob, etc. In everyday usage, the word 'shape' is also used to talk about three-dimensional form, often as something of a shorthand for referring to the two-dimensional outline or silhouette of the object. When discussing art, your meaning will be clearer if you reserve using 'shape' to talk about two-dimensional shapes on a plane.

Example

I chose this picture because it represents all the different types of shapes, and how interesting and captivating simple, elementary shapes can be.

Form

Definition

A three-dimensional object: a defined volume of space.

Example

I chose this picture because I like how it looks like an abnormal shape overall, but when closely examined you can see that it is a bunch of different shapes morphed together to achieve this painting. It also represents the three-dimensional aspect very well.

Color

Definition

The visible spectrum of radiation reflected from an object. Three properties of color are hue, intensity/saturation, and value/brightness.

Example

I chose this picture because I love how the different shades compliment each other and how it gives diversity and depth to the picture just through the different colors.

Value

Definition

How light or dark an object or element is, independent of its color. Shading uses value to depict light and shadow and show volume/form.

Example

I chose this picture because the shading and difference between light and dark makes it much more interesting to look it. The different shades add depth and life within the picture, grasping the audience attention.

Texture

Definition

The tactile sensation or feel of a surface (rough, smooth, spiky, etc.) or how something appears to feel.

Example

I chose this picture because you can really see the different sensations within the sculpture, which represents texture really nicely. I also love the different patterns within the textures.

Space

Definition

The distance or area around or between elements of an artwork. The illusion of depth created on a flat surface through the use of perspective, overlapping elements, size, level of detail, color and value.

Example

I chose this picture because the space in between the sculpture gives an illusion of a larger space to the viewers eye and I love that.

Pattern

Definition

Repeating art elements in regular or cyclical fashion to create interest, movement, and/or harmony and unity. Rhythms can be random, regular, alternating, flowing, and progressive. Classes of pattern include mosaics, lattices, spirals, meanders, waves, symmetry and fractals, among others.

Example

I chose this picture because I love how although the pattern is not ordinary, you can still recognize the repetition within it, which represents pattern.

Contrast

Definition

The difference in quality between two instances of an art element, or using opposing qualities next to each other. For example, black and white (contrasting values), organic/curvy and geometric/angular (contrasting lines/shapes/forms), and rough and smooth (contrasting textures).

Example

I chose this picture because although the colors are watered down and subtle, you can still see the contrast within it.

Emphasis

Definition

Emphasis is created by visually reinforcing something we want the viewer to pay attention to.

Example

I chose this picture because the large, ordinary background around the emphasized human really visually draws the viewer to the focal point of the picture, which is the human.

Balance

Definition

The distribution of interest or visual weight in a work. If all the visually interesting elements of a work are centered in one spot, the work is off-balance and the viewer's gaze will be stuck in one place, ignoring the rest of the piece. A balanced piece of work will have art elements arranged such that different areas draw the viewer's eye around or through the whole piece. Some types of balance are symmetric, asymmetric, and radial.

Example

I chose this picture because it represents balance nicely by equally distributing the art within the work and giving the viewer a sense of symmetry.

Proportion

Definition

Proportion is the relationship of sizes between different parts of a work. For example, how wide it is compared to how tall it is. Some proportions, such as the golden ratio and the rule of thirds, are thought to be more naturally pleasing.

Example

I chose this picture because although it is ironic and unrealistic, it represents the proportion between the human and the sculpture they are looking at well. It shows how the sculpture is much larger than the humans, allowing the viewer to see the proportion between the human and what it's looking at.

Harmony

Definition

Harmonious elements have a logical relationship or progression - in some way they work together and complement each other. When a jarring element is added - something that goes against the whole - it is said to be dissonant, just like an off-note in a musical performance. Unity is created by using harmonious similarity and repetition, continuance, proximity and alignment, and closure of design elements in different parts of the work so that the parts relate to each other and create a unified whole, that can be greater than the sum of the parts, rather than an ill-fitting and meaningless assortment of elements.

Example

I chose this picture because I love how the parts of the forest are portrayed to be in harmony to create a bigger picture, such as a human face.

Movement

Definition

Using art elements to direct a viewer's eye along a path through the artwork, and/or to show movement, action and direction. Also, giving some elements the ability to be moved or move on their own, via internal or external power.

Example

I chose this picture because it shows how the pieces of the ship breaking of and falling appear to look like they are actually collapsing through the air, but really the artist just used the principle of movement to create this illusion.