Readings for ARTC150 (Previous Version) (2023)

Last week, we explored the Renaissance model of the painting as a window on the world. We illustrated this model with Vermeer’s The Painter and His Model as Klio: the painter at his easel composing his image of a model, all nested within curtained framework of the painting we are viewing. The distance separating us from the painter invites us to reflect on the artist’s viewpoint, his tools and media, his composition, and our own perception.

Jan Vermeer. (1660),The Painter and his Model as Klio. Oil on canvas.René Magritte. (1933).The Human Condition. Oil on canvas.

Almost 300 years later, René Magritte toys with this notion of the painting as a window on the world. He paints a window looking out on a landscape. Centered in the pane is a canvas with an apparently, transparent canvas. The image doubles a selected rectangle of the “natural” landscape, just as paintings are supposed to do. The representational technique appears to be straightforward. And yet, we can’t really be sure. Is the tree actually in the landscape or did the painter add it from imagination? The painting raises questions about paintings, and also about The Human Condition. The title invites us to think about the ambiguity of all human perceptions of the world around them. How much do we see and how much do we embellish?

Let’s take a step back and think about the dimensions of this model of painting. Traditional art is. The artifact of the painting produces an image of a visual subject:

In this model, viewers’ attention often focuses on the visual subject: what is it? How realistically is the “real thing” depicted? Often, viewers experience impatience or annoyance when they can’t tell what the subject “is supposed to be” or if they feel the technique is awkward or inaccurate. When we focus on the subject, textures of the medium recede. Paradoxically, we admire the brushwork and pigmentation because they vanish in a rich emulation of the object.

But not all art is . We’ve looked at geometrical designs on ancient pottery, , and architecture with linear designs. People see beauty in such compositions without asking, what is it? Do we critique a paisley shirt if we can’t tell what its designs depict?

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Clearly, something besides representation is at play in art. We could turn our attention away from its representational agency and pay attention to the : the canvas, the paint, and the brushstrokes. We could look at color and shape and design as values in themselves. Doing so, we begin to —to bring to the front of our attention—the of art.

Formal Elements of Art

We do not need theory to begin to perceive formal elements of images. We do so all the time. “I really love that wallpaper”—the colors, the abstract design. These are formal art elements:

The formal art elements form the basis of the language of art; they consist of eight visual parts: line, color, form and shape, value, texture, space, and movement.

The following bulleted list condenses definition highlights from Credo articles on formal aspects of art and design.

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  • : one dimensional path of a point through space (article):
    • Descriptive lines (drawn): including outlines, contour lines, and hatching lines
    • Implied lines (suggested): including edges and lines of sight (the direction in which figures in a composition are looking)
    • Direction and movement: generally, verticals, horizontals, and diagonals are directional lines, whereas zigzag and curved lines are movement lines.
  • (article): a two-dimensional area defined by a clear border or outline and possessing only height and width
  • (article): a three-dimensional shape or object. … Form has height, width, and depth, and may be organic, such as a cloud, or geometric, such as a pyramid or cylinder. Organic forms suggest naturalism, while geometric forms convey artificiality.
    • : irregular forms suggesting natural contours—clouds, bushes
    • : artificial, i.e. human constructions, such as pure lines, curves, angles: pyramids, cones, cylinders, triangles, rectangles
  • (article): surface quality or appearance; how the surface feels or … would feel.
    • : making something look as though it is rough,
    • : for example the surface being textured either because of thickly applied paint, or the addition of granular material to the paint, such as sand.
  • (article): component of a composition that implies or gives the sensation of activity or action and appear dynamic instead of static
    • : tricking the eye into seeing movement as used in op art.
    • Repetition: using a repeated shape as seen in some cubist works; and
    • : relying on the viewer’s knowledge of the subject matter to communicate the idea of movement – for example, a viewer looking at a painting of a car chase will expect the cars to be moving.
  • (article): the relationship between tones (ranging from light to dark), and the degree of lightness or darkness of a color; … a scale from white to black
    • Reflected light: light that bounces off an object making it visible
    • Shading: a technique used to make a form look solid
    • (Italian ‘light–dark’): dramatic contrast of light and dark
    • Value as mood or feeling, representing a certain frame of mind or state.
  • (article): the quality or wavelength of light emitted or reflected from an object.
    • : the name of the color achieved by mixing pigments, adding colored elements (as in a mosaic) or the like
    • , the lightness and darkness of a color
    • or intensity: brightness or dullness of a color
    • : hues directly across from each other on the color wheel.
    • Warm (yellow, red, orange) versus Cool (violet, green, blue) colors

Obviously, artists achieve these formal elements using media. Color and Value are captured in a mosaic by tesserae and in painting by pigments fixed in oil, tempera, or ink. Texture can be simulated, but also embodied in media and technique: e.g. brushwork leaving daubs of paint and allowing the texture of the canvas to show through.

: Design Principles

Formal elements are furthermore composed—artistically combined— to form a design. Core aspects of design include the following (Design Principles):

  • : the “wholeness” of composition, … parts working together creating one total picture – a seamless composition
  • Proximity or putting objects close to one another in the composition: … When objects are placed close together the viewer’s eye is forced to move from one object to the next inevitably taking in the entire composition
  • Similarity: making things similar, also creates a sense of wholeness. Using similar textures, colors, or shapes tends to visually connect the parts of a composition.
  • Continuation: when vision is directed by a line (actual or implied) that travels around the composition.
  • Variety and harmony: variety pertains to differences and diversity. … Harmony in art, as in music, is the agreeable blending of elements … in a perfect balance.
  • Emphasis(or dominance): the focal point of a composition, … highlighting an element in order to control the viewer’s eye and stress significance of objects.
    • :eyelines of figures in the work drawing our eyes to a subject
    • Central location in a composition
  • and movement: repeating an element creates a sense of movement, flow, or activity. In art, rhythm can be felt as well as seen.
    • Repetition of the same element or of multiple elements in a type of pattern, [1]
    • Progressive repetition of an element, very small to very large; dark to light.
  • : equal distribution of visual weight or the placement of elements evenly.
    • : balance of different elements, objects, or figures with equal visual weights: e.g. large open space balancing heavy, perhaps dark zones
    • : balance of the same elements on both sides of an implied central vertical or horizontal axis.

Whew! That’s some list. No, you are not being asked to memorize it. Yet a few moments on these pages can sensitize your awareness of the artistry at work in artistic composition.

[1] Does this notion of repeating a form in a pattern sound familiar? It should. It is the equivalent of scheme figures of speech in poetry and oratory: parallelism, anaphora, etc.

References

Academic art[Article]. (2004). In I. Chilvers(Ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of Art. Oxford University Press. http://www.oxfordreference.com.ezproxy.bethel.edu/view/10.1093/acref/9780199569922.001.0001/acref-9780199569922-e-1816.

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Ingres, J. A. D. (c. 1812). Napoleon Bonaparte receiving the keys of Vienna at the Schloss Schönbrunn, 13th November. [Painting]. France: Château de Versailles. Wikimedia https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Napoleon_en_de_sleutels_van_wenen.jpg.

Art elements [Article]. (2018). In Helicon (Ed.),The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide. Abington, UK: Helicon. http://ezproxy.bethel.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/heliconhe/art_elements/0?institutionId=712.

David, J-L. (1784). The Oath of the Horatii [Painting]. Paris: muse du Louvre, ID ART147619. ARTstor https://library-artstor-org.ezproxy.bethel.edu/asset/ARMNIG_10313257933.

Design principle [Article]. (2018). In Helicon (Ed.),The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide. Abington, UK: Helicon. http://ezproxy.bethel.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/heliconhe/design_principle/0?institutionId=712.

Form [Article]. (2018). In Helicon (Ed.),The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide. Abington, UK: Helicon. https://search-credoreference-com.ezproxy.bethel.edu/content/entry/heliconhe/form/4.

Line [Article]. (2018). In Helicon (Ed.),The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide. Abington, UK: Helicon. https://search-credoreference-com.ezproxy.bethel.edu/content/entry/heliconhe/line/0.

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Design principle [Article]. (2018). In Helicon (Ed.),The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide. Abington, UK: Helicon. http://ezproxy.bethel.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/heliconhe/design_principle/0?institutionId=712.

Form [Article]. (2018). In Helicon (Ed.),The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide. Abington, UK: Helicon. https://search-credoreference-com.ezproxy.bethel.edu/content/entry/heliconhe/form/4.

Movement [Article]. (2018). In Helicon (Ed.),The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide. Abington, UK: Helicon. https://search-credoreference-com.ezproxy.bethel.edu/content/entry/heliconhe/movement/1.

Raphael(2004). [Article]. In I. Chilvers(Ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of Art. Oxford University Press. https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780198604761.001.0001/acref-9780198604761-e-2890.

Shape [Article]. (2018). In Helicon (Ed.),The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide. Abington, UK: Helicon. https://search-credoreference-com.ezproxy.bethel.edu/content/entry/heliconhe/shape/2.

Texture [Article]. (2018). In Helicon (Ed.),The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide. Abington, UK: Helicon. https://search-credoreference-com.ezproxy.bethel.edu/content/entry/heliconhe/texture/1.

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Vermeer, J. (1665-1666). The Painter and his Model as Klio [Painting]. Vienna, Austria: Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. ARTstor https://library-artstor-org.ezproxy.bethel.edu/asset/LESSING_ART_1039490406.

FAQs

What are the 6 formal elements of art? ›

ELEMENTS OF ART: The visual components of color, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value. may be two-or three-dimensional, descriptive, implied, or abstract.

What are the 4 formal elements of art? ›

The Formal Elements are the parts used to make a piece of artwork. The art elements are line, shape, space, form, tone, texture, pattern, colour and composition. They are often used together, and how they are organised in a piece of art determines what the finished piece will look like.

How does the medium impact what the viewer experiences? ›

Artists often use a particular medium because it affects the texture or color of the work of art. Other times, the artist will choose a medium because it helps the audience interpret the art in a specific way.

What is high value in art? ›

Value in art is essentially how light or dark something is on a scale of white to black (with white being the highest value and black being the lowest value). It is widely considered to be one of the most important variables to the success of a painting, even more so than your selection of color (hue).

What are the 4 types of lines in art? ›

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.

What are the 8 forms of art? ›

These different types of art are painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, music, cinema, and theater.

What is the 7 elements of design? ›

The elements of design are the fundamental aspects of any visual design which include shape, color, space, form, line, value, and texture.

What are the seven principles of art? ›

The Principles of Art (balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, rhythm, and unity/variety) represent how the Elements of Art (line, shape, color, value, form, texture, and space) are used by an artist to create a painting, drawing, or other work of art.

What are 3 of the 7 elements of art? ›

The seven most common elements include line, shape, texture, form, space, color and value, with the additions of mark making, and materiality.

What is the point of the medium is the message? ›

The central theory behind “the medium is the message” is that the medium through which content is carried plays a vital role in the way it is perceived. We no doubt see this with the Internet today, in the way we get our news compared to how we got it with print.

How will you explain McLuhan's famous phrase the medium is the message? ›

“The medium is the message” is a phrase created by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.

What is the medium or means so they could understand the message? ›

A statement by Marshall McLuhan, meaning that the form of a message (print, visual, musical, etc.) determines the ways in which that message will be perceived.

How do you analyze value in art? ›

Value defines how light or dark a given color or hue can be. Values are best understood when visualized as a scale or gradient, from dark to light. The more tonal variants in an image, the lower the contrast. When shades of similar value are used together, they also create a low contrast image.

How do I find the value of artwork? ›

Consider finding an appraiser to determine the value of your artwork. Appraisers are trained specialists who work for a fee. They evaluate your piece and give you a written statement of its value. Although the following organizations do not provide appraisals themselves, they each publish a directory of their members.

How do you study values in art? ›

DIGITAL PAINTING - HOW TO DO VALUE STUDIES - YouTube

What do zigzag lines mean in art? ›

When in use, they suggest movement or lack of stability. Zigzag lines are a series of diagonal lines joined at ends. They can convey action and excitement, as well as restlessness and anxiety.

What is a broken line in art? ›

a discontinuous line or series of line segments, as a series of dashes, or a figure made up of line segments meeting at oblique angles.

What are the 5 basic lines in art? ›

There are 5 main types of lines in art: vertical lines, horizontal lines, diagonal lines, zigzag lines, and curved lines. Other types of lines are simply variations of the five main ones.

Who started art? ›

The first painting was made by primitive men, believed to have been made by Homo Neanderthalis in the prehistoric era. Archaeological excavations carried out in Europe, Africa and Asia reveal that primitive men were the first painters and sculptors and demonstrated through these arts their daily lives.

Why is it called art? ›

The term “art” is related to the Latin word “ars” meaning, art, skill, or craft. The first known use of the word comes from 13th-century manuscripts. However, the word art and its many variants (artem, eart, etc.) have probably existed since the founding of Rome.

What is art in simple words? ›

Britannica Dictionary definition of ART. 1. [noncount] : something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.

What are the 12 principles of design? ›

Understanding the basics

There are twelve basic principles of design: contrast, balance, emphasis, proportion, hierarchy, repetition, rhythm, pattern, white space, movement, variety, and unity.

What makes a great design? ›

Good design is a concept defined by industrial designer Dieter Rams's principles: It makes a product useful and understandable, is innovative, aesthetic, unobtrusive, honest, long-lasting, thorough to the last detail, environmentally friendly, and involves as little design as possible. Designers strive for good design.

What are the 5 principles of design? ›

Principles of design
  • Balance.
  • Alignment.
  • Proximity.
  • Repetition.
  • Contrast.
27 Feb 2019

What are the five basic skills of drawing? ›

The 5 basic skills of drawing are understanding edges, spaces, light and shadow, relationships, and, the whole, or gestalt. These 5 basic skills of drawing make up the components of a finished work of art when put together.

What are the three 3 phases in the creation of art? ›

The Process of Creation 3 Phases in the Process of Creation 1. The artist must have an idea; 2. The artist must have a material to work with; 3. The artist must give form to his idea.

What is the most important principle of art? ›

HARMONY. The sense of continuity or similarity across an artwork that creates a connection and a flow of intent is called harmony. It is the most important and a very versatile principles of art.

What is the most important visual element? ›

The Visual Elements - Line

It is the first and most versatile of the visual elements of art. Line in an artwork can be used in many different ways. It can be used to suggest shape, pattern, form, structure, growth, depth, distance, rhythm, movement and a range of emotions.

Why is color important in art? ›

In works of art, artists use color to depict and describe the subject. Artists, especially painters, utilize their knowledge of color to portray mood, light, depth, and point of view in a work of art.

What are the 8 principles of design? ›

The elements, or principles, of visual design include Contrast, Balance, Emphasis, Movement, White Space, Proportion, Hierarchy, Repetition, Rhythm, Pattern, Unity, and Variety. These principles of design work together to create something that is aesthetically pleasing and optimizes the user experience.

Which is more powerful the medium or the message? ›

McLuhan believed that the nature of the medium that was being used to share a message was more important than the actual content of the message being shared. The medium places a filter on a message in a way that significantly influences how the message is interpreted.

Why the medium is not the message? ›

In short, McLuhan suggested the medium embeds itself in any message it communicates, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.

Is the medium still the message? ›

Does the medium disappear, leaving the message as the message? Definitely not. In fact, McLuhan's musings are even more pertinent today than ever. Our information age is filled with unintended consequences (e.g., Twitter as a tool of revolutions and rescues, YouTube as a tool for bullies, and so forth).

Why is the statement the medium is the message considered paradoxical? ›

“The medium is the message” is a deliberately paradoxical statement. According to Mcluhan, throughout history, what has been communicated has been less important than the particular medium through which they communicated.

What is an example of the medium is the message? ›

Different examples include print, radio, film, television, the web and so on. The fascinating thing about media is how they invariably shape how a message is expressed and how the recipient perceives it.

What is McLuhan's theory? ›

McLuhan's most famous idea is that “the medium is the message”. By which he means that the important thing about media is not the messages they carry but the way the medium itself affects human consciousness and society at large. In other words owning a TV that we watch is more significant that anything we watch on it.

What hinders the participants of the communication process to understand one another? ›

Many barriers to effective communication exist. Examples include filtering, selective perception, information overload, emotional disconnects, lack of source familiarity or credibility, workplace gossip, semantics, gender differences, differences in meaning between Sender and Receiver, and biased language.

What is an effective medium to communicate one's message? ›

The medium used to send a message may range from an individual's voice, writing, clothing, and body language to forms of mass communication such as newspapers, television, and the internet.

What is the response given by the receiver of the message to the sender? ›

Feedback refers to the response of the receiver on the message conveyed by the sender.

How many formal elements are there in art? ›

There are seven elements of art that are considered the building blocks of art as a whole. The seven elements are line, color, value, shape, form, space, and texture.

What are the 5 elements of arts? ›

The goal of this unit is to introduce students to the basic elements of art (color, line, shape, form, and texture) and to show students how artists use these elements in different ways in their work.

What are 3 of the 7 elements of art? ›

The seven most common elements include line, shape, texture, form, space, color and value, with the additions of mark making, and materiality.

What is the most important element or principle of art Why? ›

Perhaps one of the most important principles is harmony. Harmony deals with the unity and cohesiveness that an artwork has and how all of its visual elements work together in the composition.

Which element of art can be used by new artist to learn to draw? ›

Line is the foundation of all drawing. It is the first and most versatile of the visual elements of art. Line in an artwork can be used in many different ways. It can be used to suggest shape, pattern, form, structure, growth, depth, distance, rhythm, movement and a range of emotions.

What is the most important element of art? ›

Lines can also describe texture or define the separation of light and dark through shading. Line is the most fundamental and most essential element. everything else builds on top of line even if your art does not use actual drawn lines.

What is art in simple words? ›

Britannica Dictionary definition of ART. 1. [noncount] : something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.

What are the 12 principles of design? ›

Understanding the basics

There are twelve basic principles of design: contrast, balance, emphasis, proportion, hierarchy, repetition, rhythm, pattern, white space, movement, variety, and unity.

Why is it called art? ›

The term “art” is related to the Latin word “ars” meaning, art, skill, or craft. The first known use of the word comes from 13th-century manuscripts. However, the word art and its many variants (artem, eart, etc.) have probably existed since the founding of Rome.

Who started art? ›

The first painting was made by primitive men, believed to have been made by Homo Neanderthalis in the prehistoric era. Archaeological excavations carried out in Europe, Africa and Asia reveal that primitive men were the first painters and sculptors and demonstrated through these arts their daily lives.

What is realistic art called? ›

It is a style of art which uses realistic depictions of the human figure, nature, and events in order to portray reality as accurately as possible. Realism is also known as naturalism or veristic realism, and it can take many forms, such as landscape painting, portraiture or still life.

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