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Elements of Art

What do we do in this class?

• We shall describe, analyze, interpret and

judge artworks.

• For this, we need an artistic vocabulary

essential to artistic literacy.
What to look for in art:
• Definition – What is the art form about? = Concept

• Elements and Organization – How is it put together?

• Process – How is it done?
• Mediums – What is it made of?

• Examples – What are the aesthetic qualities of the


• Are the fundamental, essential

constituents of any art work

• The elements of art are a set of techniques

that describe ways of presenting artwork
• They are combined with the principles of
art in the production of art.
The Elements

• Seeing images = Visual Forming

• An object can be reduced to elements

• Artists are visual formers with a plan

Line – elementary means of communication
• the path of a moving point made by a tool, instrument or
medium as it moves across an area
• contrasts in value with its surroundings

• 3 dimensional lines include: string, wire, tubes, etc.

• Is the most familiar of the elements
• Is an extended dot

• Physical characteristics used to create meaning &

reproduce the appearance of the subjects
The Vocabulary of Line

• Contour – defines outmost limits of an

object, drawn or painted shape, outline,
• Implied line – are those that dim, fade stop
and/or disappear and is visually completed
by the observer as the line reappears
Physical Characteristics of line

• Straight, curved, short, thick,

long, zigzag, meandering, serpentine
• Built-in associations
• Subtle psychological suggestions
da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Coco Chanel
• Measure – refers to length and width
and an infinite number of combinations
according to use: to divide, balance, or
unbalance in a pictorial area
• Direction – controls movement of eyes,
facilitates relations among many properties

• Location – according to its placement a line

can serve to unify or divide, balance or not
a pictorial area
• Character – term related to medium
Varied instruments give line its character – with
brush, stick, fingers

• Lines of – uniformity, accent, certainty,

indecision, tension, relaxation are decisions only
the artist makes
Expressive Properties of Line
• Can be described in general states of
feeling – somber, tired, energetic, brittle,
• Here spectator must be receptive and
perceptive and have a reservoir of
experiences to draw from

• Individual lines can play various roles – via

composition or expression
• Lines real beauty lies in the relationship
they establish in the form

• Planned composition aids in organizing

thoughts and feelings of viewer depicted in
• Line can possess color, value, and texture and
creates shape

• All contribute to give appeal and meaning to


• Some works however are line free

• Role of signifying ideas, conveying feelings, line
moves and lives pulsating with significant

• Is a means of transcribing expressive ideas and

emotions – describes contours of shapes and
encompasses spaces

• - all in such a way to convey meaning

• here the artists ability, experience, intention,
and mental and physical condition determine
the effectiveness of line character
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Guggenheim Museums
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
• Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
• Designed by American architect Frank Gehry, the
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao opened in 1997 in Bilbao,
a city in northern Spain. The building’s curvaceous
form is made even more unusual by the rippling
reflections in its titanium surface.
Guernica, Spain: World War II

• An area that stands out from the space next to

or around it because of a defined or implied
boundary or because of differences of value,
color, or texture.
Vocabulary of Shape
• Actual – clearly defined, positive (vs. implied)
• Amorphous – without clarity, formless, indistinct,
uncertain dimension
• Biomorphic – irregular, resembles freely
developed curves of live organisms
• Decorative – ornamenting, stressing 2D nature of
an art work, flatness is emphasized
• Geometric - related to geometry as in tringle,
circle, rectangle
Geometric and Biomorphic shapes
• Artist’s preliminary vision can start with line and/or shape
• Sketches develop from lines to defined shapes
• Are building blocks of art structures
• Pictorial shapes exist largely in terms of the illusions they
• The challenge for the artist is to use the infinitely varied
illusions of shape to make
believable fantasy inherent in all art
• That fantasy is a possible reality
Modern Art
• Lines enclosing an area
• This use is the outline or contour
• The mind can read a visible effect of shape;
instinctive need for order which makes
mind fill out parts left out
• German Gestalt (form) psychologists
explored human perception (early 20th c)
• Mind tend to see organized wholes or
forms as a totality – tends to insist on
creating shapes from approximately
related elements
• Closure not necessary for forming shape
• Solids or masses in 3D forms of art
Korean Masks
• These are masks from Korea. Each mask represents a different character in
an age-old play about the interaction between the different classes. This
ceremonial play is still performed today.
Notice the simplicity of the masks.
This simplicity makes the viewer aware of the shapes and lines unique to
these masks.
• This unique painting appears to be all about shapes. The shapes are squares
and rectangles. This includes the spaces between the colored shapes as well.
Even the shape of the canvas reflects the square patterns in the painting.
Here Mondrian uses shape to convey his ideas about the mechanization of
the world.
• Mondrian was inspired by New York's Broadway and Boogie-woogie music.
What elements of this urban life can you see in his work?
This is an icon. An icon is a
religious painting created
during the Byzantine period. It
was usually a portrait of a saint
or the Virgin Mary. Often
these icons were using egg
tempera on gessoed wood
panels and decorated in gold
leaf. These wooden panels were
used to decorate alters and
churches. They can still be
found decorating Greek and
Russian Orthodox churches.

What shape do you notice

Chances are you noticed the
circle around the woman's
head. What does this circle
Notice that the artist repeats
the circle again and again
throughout the painting. Why
do you think he did this?
• Shapes vary endlessly, ranging in type from
objective to subjective, from geometric to
biomorphic, and from implied to
amorphous. They may differ in color, value,
and texture according to function. Can be
static, stable, active, lively, can expand or
contract depending on the artist’s use.
• Shape and Design Principles

• Shapes have multiple purposes in visual manipulation and

psychological or emotional effects.

• Artists modify the elements until:

- A desired degree and balance is achieved

- Observers attention is controlled both in terms of direction
and duration.
- The appropriate ratio of harmony and variety results.
- The space concept achieves consistency throughout.
Guggenheim Museum, Abu Dhabi
• How many shapes do you
recognize in this work? Why
do you think you notice the
shapes first in this sculpture?
• This is an assemblage.
Nevelson collected scraps of
wood and assembled this
sculpture. She painted it one
color. By doing this, the
viewer is made more aware of
the many shapes of the wood
and the spaces between the
• Surrealism promoted the free play of
ideas and imagination in the arts. The
Spanish painter Joan Miró let shapes
and forms emerge spontaneously as he
worked, rather than through careful
planning. To create The Policeman, one
of his "dream paintings," Miró poured,
brushed, and wiped with rags large
areas of washes and glazes of paint on
the surface of the canvas.

This brings up an important question.

Must all art be carefully planned and
organized to be considered great works
of art?
• What basic shapes do you see? If you
did not know the title, would you have
been able to recognize this picture as a
• Storrs began experimenting with Cubism
just before World War I, and he returned
to Cubist forms following the end of
hostilities. By 1920 he was among the
first to produce nonobjective sculpture.
It was during the period between the two
world wars that Storrs made his
contribution to the development of
modern art with such Cubist-inspired
celebrations of the machine and
skyscraper as Forms in Space. Its
verticality and setbacks suggest the
skyscrapers being erected in New York
throughout the 1920s. In particular, the
zigzag angularity of Forms in Space was
adapted for the stainless-steel Art Deco
adornment at the top of the Chrysler
Building, which was completed in 1930.
• Part of the Minimal and Conceptual
movements that emerged in the mid-60s,
LeWitt has focused his interests on the
many visual arrangements of simple
geometric forms. His sculpture and wall
drawings are representative of LeWitt’s
notion that the idea is central to art, and
that ideas, although irrational, should be
carried out logically.
Sol LeWitt’s Floor Piece #4 is an excellent
example of classic Minimalist sculpture.
This is because of its use of industrial
materials , or raw materials used in
construction, and basic geometric shapes.
These works are part of a series of
artworks based on the cube. LeWitt uses
simple geometric shapes to create a three-
dimensional grid, revealing the many
different arrangements that can be created
from a single cube.
Salvacion Higgins Lim
Muslim – Philippine
Salvacion Higgins Lim
• The surface character of a material that
can be experienced through touch or the
illusion of touch

• Is produced by natural forces or through an

artist’s manipulation of the art elements
Ramon Orlina
Jan Vermeer: The Milkmaid
The Sense of Touch

Tactile – A quality that refers to the sense of


• Actual texture – A surface that can be

experienced through the sense of touch (as
opposed to a surface visually simulated by
the artist).

• Simulated texture – A convincing copy or

translation of an object’s texture in any
Jose Blanco
• Abstract texture – derived from the appearance
of an actual surface but rearranged &/or
simplified by the artist to satisfy the demands of
the artwork

• Invented texture – a created texture whose only

source is in the imagination of the artist. It
generally produces a decorative pattern and
should not be confused with abstract texture
Anita Magsaysay Ho
Vincent Van Gogh
Van Gogh
• Natural texture – texture created as the result of
nature’s processes

• Accent – any stress or emphasis given to

elements of a composition that makes them
attract more attention than other features;
created by a brighter color, darker tone, greater
size, or whatever means by which a difference is
• Atmospheric (aerial) perspective –
Illusion of deep space produced in graphic works by
lightening values, softening details and textures, reducing
value contrasts and neutralizing colors in objects as they

 Collage – a pictorial technique whereby the artist

creates the image, or a portion of it by adhering
real materials that possess actual textures to the
picture plane surface, often combining them with
painted or drawn passages.

• Unique among the elements as it activates

2 sensory processes – visual and tactile
• The rendering of surface character of
• Touch can inform us about the nature of
objects – smooth, rough, hard, soft
Marriage of

Jan Van Eyck

• Texture = feel of the surface depends on
the degree to which it is broken up by its
• This determines how we see it and feel it
• Rough surfaces intercept light rays,
producing lights and darks
• Glossy surfaces reflect light more evenly,
giving a less broken appearance.
Kenneth Cobonpue
Philippine Inspired
• Paint quality – the use of paint to enrich a
surface through textural interest. Interest is
created by the ingenuity in handling paint for its
intrinsic character

• trompe l’oeil – means “deceives the eye”;

technique that copies nature with such
exactitude that the subject depicted can be
mistaken for natural forms.
Kenneth Cobonpue
Tina Maristela Ocampo
Tina Maristela Ocampo
Tina Maristela Ocampo
• Is the relative degree of light or dark.
• The characteristic of color determined by
light or dark or the quantity of light
reflected by the color
Vocabulary of Value
• Chiaroscuro
1) the distribution of light and dark in a
2) a technique of representation that
blends light and shade gradually to create
the illusion of 3-dimensional objects in
space or atmosphere
• Cast Shadow – The dark area that occurs on a
surface as a result of something being placed
between that surface and a light source.
• Shadow, shade, shading – The darker value
on the surface of an object that gives the
illusion that a portion of it is turned away
from or obscured by the source of light.
Caravaggio: The Calling of Matthew
Gianlorenzo Bernini
On Value
• An artwork is enhanced by the artist who makes
good use of lights & darks
• Lights and darks are referred to as VALUE

• Achromatic value – relating to differences of light

and dark: the absence of hue and its intensity

• Chromatic value – value (relative degree of

lightness or darkness) demonstrated by a given
Impressionist Colours
Fernando Amorsolo
• Is extreme chiaroscuro
• First used by artists in the 17th C. inspired
by Caravaggio – the “dark manner of
• Rembrandt became perfector of this;
• Used as an instrument to exaggerate
Baroque paintings – strong contrasts are
highly dramatic, even theatrical, work of
this type
A technique of painting that exaggerates or
emphasizes the effects of chiaroscuro

Larger amounts of dark value are placed close

to smaller areas of highly contrasting lights-
which change suddenly- in order to
concentrate attention on important features
Georges de Latour
Ansel Adams

Japanese Design
ORIENTAL Design: Japanese
Japanese Interiors
Oriental Motifs: Japanese
Japanese Character
Modern Chinese Interiors
• Any element placed in pictorial area takes
on an apparent depth in space
• A concern of all artist
• Space implies mental conditioning by the
environment and experience of the viewer
• Vision is experienced via the eyes and
interpreted by the mind
Michelangelo Buonarotti
Sistine Chapel frescoes
Spatial Perception
• Involves the whole pattern of nerve and
brain response to visual stimulus
• 2 types of vision – stereoscopic and
kinesthetic --- 2 diff. views of the object
world at the same time
Sports Ad
Major Types of Space
• Decorative Space – ornamenting or
enriching but more so, stressing 2D nature
of an art work or any of its elements. Its
emphasis is essential flatness of a surface.
• Plastic Space – All spatial imagery that is
not decorative. Here infinite degrees of
depth are possible.
• Stereoscopic- which makes one see 3D
and be able to judge distances
• Kinesthetic – while viewing 2D surface,
unconsciously attempt to organize
separate parts to be seen as a whole
Deep and Infinite Space

• Atmospheric perspective – illusion of deep

space produced in graphic works by
lightening values, softening details and
textures, reducing value contrasts and
neutralizing colors in objects as they
Spatial Indicators
• Size – largeness or smallness in terms of
• Position – Reference is always eye level, in
relation to horizon line; bottom of visual
plane is closest visual point and rise above
horizontal line has receding spatial position
Fractional Representation
• A device used by various cultures (notably
Egyptians who depicted only most representative
aspects of the parts of the body ) in which several
spatial aspects of the same subject are

• E.g. in 19th-20th century painters like Cezanne

and Picasso --- effect is plastic even if flat as artist
uses device to make viewer move around objects.
Linear Perspective
Perspective is an approximate representation, on a
flat surface (such as paper), of an image as it is
perceived by the eye. The two most characteristic
features of perspective are that objects are drawn:

Smaller as their distance from the observer


Foreshortened: the size of an object's dimensions

along the line of sight are relatively shorter than
dimensions across the line of sight.

• The visual response to the wavelengths of

sunlight identified as red, green, blue, etc.

• Having the physical properties of hue, intensity

and value .

• Designates the common name of a color

and indicates its position on the color
wheel or on the spectrum. Hue is
determined by the specific wavelength of
the color in a ray of light.
Color Wheel

• The saturation, strength or purity of a hue.

A vivid color is of high intensity; a low color
is of low intensity.

• The characteristic of color determined by light

or dark or the quantity of light reflected by the
• The relative degree of light and dark.

• The band of individual colors that results

when a beam of white light is broken into
its component wavelenghts, identifiable as
Primary Colors
• Primary colors are sets of colors that can be
combined to make a useful range (gamut) of
• Secondary colors
• Intermediate colors
• Complementary colors
• Analogous colors
• All colours in the chart can either be –
relatively – warm or cool
• BLUE – in varying degrees = COOLER
• YELLOW /RED – in varying degrees = WARMER
• WARM colours can appear to be stronger than
COOL ones
• e.g. yellow-orange against blue backdrop

• Can give spatial quality in a pictorial field

• A 3 dimensional quality is resulted placed on a
flat surface (e.g. a spot of yellow-orange)
• COUNTERBALANCE = forward or backward
• Can create a mood & symbolize ideas and
express personal emotions
• Light, bright colours =happy
• Cool, sombre = sad
• Hues can have varying emotional impacts
• Hues can symbolize ideas or abstract qualities
like virtue, loyalty, evil and cowardice
• Power
• Anger
• Love
• Intense
• Exciting
• Danger
• Passion
• Serene
• Sad
• Dignified
• Loyalty
• Honesty
• nobility
• Yellow – cowardice
• Black – death
• White – purity or innocence
• Purple – wealth or royalty
• Green – life and hope
• Pink – feminine
• Gray – masculine
• In art forms colour & their arrangements can
give meaning or a “feeling tone”
• ARCHITECTURE = design takes colour into
consideration for expressive and functional
aspects; esp. in interior design
• SCULPTURE = colour is linked to material
chosen; can enhance depth of shallow areas,
dramatize sections; purely decorative