Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Design in art

Everywhere we look we see design. It is in nature and it is seen in almost every product we use.It's amazing how many of us do not even think about the design of things as we go about our day. from our coffe cup in the morning to the auto we drive home in there is design. Who doesn't benefit from the element of design? The element of art are Composition and Design. What is composition and design?

Composition: The plan, placement or arrangement of the elements of art in a work. It is often useful to discuss these in reference to the principles of design, as well as to the relative weight of the composition's parts.
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lements of art or elements of design - The basic components used by the artist when producing works of art. Those elements are color, value, line, shape, form, texture, and space. The elements of art are among the literal qualities found in any artwork.

If you enter many art competions these principal of color, value, line, shape,form,texture and space will always be applied to your work as it is evaluated. I personally find value to be the most important element to study and one that a strong art work can be based on.

The principles of design and the principles of art - Certain
qualities inherent in the choice and arrangement of elements of art in the production of a work of art. Artists "design" their works to varying degrees by controlling and ordering the elements of art. Considering the principles is especially useful in analyzing ways in which a work is pleasing in formal ways. How any work exhibits applications of these principles can further or modify other characteristics of a work as well. (See definition for further details of the principles)

No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it, and is sure of his method and composition.
Claude Monet

I'll be quoting from ArtLex extensively because (a) it's a very good resource and (b) it tends to be comprehensive while other sites can sometimes be rather partial.

I also recommend that you take a look at the links I'm collecting in Composition and Design - Resources for Artists - which now contains a section devoted to elements and principles. I'll be developing other modules for the different components.

Books listed at the end, other good resources include:
The Elements of Design and Composition

The elements of design are the building blocks - they provide the structure for a design or an artwork.

Value - An element of art that refers to luminance or luminosity — the lightness or darkness of a color. Value is an especially important element in works of art when color is absent. This is particularly likely with drawings, woodcuts, lithographs, and photographs. It is also true with most sculpture and architecture.
ArtLex: Value
Values in two dimensional artwork create gradations in light and contrast - and without these everything would be flat. Values can be created in different ways - by line and by colour.

To my mind, value is the most important element in the design of a painting. Without values there is no design. It's more important than colour because there are great works of art which have no colour and value can be a component of colour but colour isn't a component of value .
"The first things to study are form and values. For me, these are the things that are the basics of what is serious in art. Color and finish put charm in one's work."
Jean Baptiste Corot (1796-1875), French painter. Keith Roberts, Corot, 1965.
There will be more about value in subsequent posts. Aids to composition include grey scales or value scales.

An element of art with three properties: (1) hue or tint, the color name, e.g., red, yellow, blue, etc.: (2) intensity, the purity and strength of a color, e.g., bright red or dull red; and (3) value, the lightness or darkness of a color.
ArtLex: Colour
Colour will be the subject of another of my projects later this year. You can see links to information on the Internet which has already been collected in Colour - Resources for Artists

Shape - An element of art, it is an enclosed space defined and determined by other art elements such as line, color, value, and texture. In painting and drawing, shapes may take on the appearance of solid three-dimensional object even though they are limited to two dimensions — length and width. This two-dimensional character of shape distinguishes it from form, which has depth as well as length and width.
ArtLex: Shape
Both form and shape require space (see below) to exist - shape needs at least two dimensions while form requires three. Two dimensional shapes can be defined by lines alone or values alone.

Notan defines three dimensional forms in terms of two dimensional shapes and values.

Form - In its widest sense, total structure; a synthesis of all the visible aspects of that structure and of the manner in which they are united to create its distinctive character. The form of a work is what enables us to perceive it.Form also refers to an element of art that is three-dimensional (height, width, and depth) and encloses volume. For example, a triangle, which is two-dimensional, is a shape, but a pyramid, which is three-dimensional, is a form. Cubes, spheres, ovoids, pyramids, cone, and cylinders are examples of various forms.
ArtLex: Form
Forms can be organic and natural or constructed. Either can be geometric in form. Artists often talk about finding the 'big shapes' when starting a composition - but the shapes might be three dimensional forms. You can 'abstract' from a natural object to find its geometric equivalent - eg an apple is a sphere.

An element of art that refers to the distance or area between, around, above, below, or within things. It can be described as two-dimensional or three-dimensional; as flat, shallow, or deep; as open or closed; as positive or negative; and as actual, ambiguous, or illusory.
Artlex: Space
Positive space is the space taken up by objects. Negative space is the space in between objects. Focusing on the latter often enables us to see the true relationship between different objects. Empty space can be highly regarded in some art forms and cultures and is exemplified above in this sculpture by Henry Moore currently on display as part of an exhibition of his work at Kew Gardens.

line - A mark with length and direction(-s). An element of art which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point. Types of line include: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, straight or ruled, curved, bent, angular, thin, thick or wide, interrupted (dotted, dashed, broken, etc.), blurred or fuzzy, controlled, freehand, parallel, hatching, meandering, and spiraling. Often it defines a space, and may create an outline or contour, define a silhouette; create patterns, or movement, and the illusion of mass or volume. It may be two-dimensional (as with pencil on paper) three-dimensional (as with wire) or implied (the edge of a shape or form).
ArtLex: Line
Lines in visual art do not have to be on canvas or paper. They can be marks made within the environment.

texture- An element of art, texture is the surface quality or "feel" of an object, its smoothness, roughness, softness, etc. Textures may be actual or simulated. Actual textures can be felt with the fingers, while simulated textures are suggested by an artist in the painting of different areas of a picture
ArtLex - Texture
Texture can be represented in visual artworks in either two or three dimensional ways. It's often a pictorial illusion - which is dependent on line and value.

Books with a good explanation of the elements of design

Links to sites which provide further information

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