HOW TO DRAW: Understanding Art - The Six Elements

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Understanding Art - The Six Elements

I have always been and will continue to be a proponent of purchasing art based upon your emotional response to it! What it says to you and how it makes you feel should be primary in your decision-making process. However, the more practical approach to buying art is found in a basic understanding of the six elements of art. These fundamental aspects will help you determine whether your purchase makes good sense in terms of "how good the art... REALLY is":

Element #1 - Line: This is the most basic element which provides order and movement to the viewer's eye. Lines vary in length, width and texture. They can be vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved or zigzag. But most importantly they create emotional responses. For example, vertical lines suggest stability and strength, while diagonal ones express action and movement. Both can have a dramatic affect on the viewer's perspective of where the subject matter is... and where it is going.

Element #2 - Shape: Shapes suggest character and the setting is often determined by whether the shape is simple or complex. There are two types of and geometric. Organic shapes tend to be irregular and often represent natural objects such as trees and humans. They typically convey a sense of spontaneity and unpredictability. On the other hand, geometric shapes create order and are usually non-natural objects such as buildings and houses. They tend to be exact, complex and stable.

Element #3 - Space: Space can best be described as the visual illusion that invites the viewer into the picture. Space is defined by the shapes and forms found within the artwork. The shapes and forms comprise the positive space while the empty space around those objects comprise the negative space. Space can be deep or shallow, flat or dimensional.

Element #4 - Value: This element characterizes the lightness or darkness of any color. A color to which black has been added is called a shade and has a darker value while a color to which white has been added is called a tint and has a lighter value. Paintings that use only one color and the subsequent shades and tints of that color are called monochromatic. It is the value of color that creates the contrasts between the elements of art.

Element #5 - Color: Color is produced when light strikes an object and reflects back into your eye. There is so much to discuss relative to color such as hue, intensity, primary, secondary and tertiary colors but suffice it to say that color creates the mood, setting and theme of art. Colors can be warm or cool and create an array of emotional responses in the environment in which they are placed. And an artist's use of color is central to the message being conveyed.

Element #6 - Texture: Texture is defined as the surface quality or feel of a piece of art. Texture can be tactile ( that is physically felt ) or visual thus giving the illusion of texture. An artist will choose the medium ( oil, acrylic, pastel, etc. ) and the surface ( canvas, wood, paper, etc. ) to create the desired texture. Texturing possibilities are as endless as the materials being used.

Good art incorporates all of these elements in harmony thus giving adequate attention to each. So whether you are buying art for your home or office, try evaluating it based upon these six elements. They should provide you with enough information to make the right decision that will ultimately bring pleasure to your life for years to come!

Ken Eidenmiller is the owner and director of Artful Living LLC a virtual art gallery founded in 2004. An artist himself, Ken personally selects each reproduction that comprises the more than 750 items found online. Whether you are looking for hand-painted oils or embellished giclees, you can choose from a wide selection of unique and quality reproduction art at......



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