and WRITING about art - Artwork often has Subject
Matter like a face, a dog, flowers, trees, an airplane,
It is common for the subject matter to get our attention.
All artwork has elements and principles. The Visual
are Line, Color, Shape, Form (volume), Texture, Value
with subject matter) create visual effects. When you see
visual effect it means that some sort of organizing Principle
is working. By looking at artwork and responding in writing, you
are discovering principles that were used by the artist. The
Elements and Subject Matter are used separately and together to create
all kinds of relationships, motion, transition, contrasts, conflicts,
themes, feelings, meanings, depth effects, space effects, and so
If you can find a relationship that creates a visual effect, you have
a principle. For example, repetition (repeating
tends to insist on being seen and it can give the effect of motion.
you can use them and you will understand how to make and understand
better. For example, a combination of red
has a different effect than a combination of
green. By looking
at these color combinations next to each other, you might discover a
of design. When you see a big shape combined with another big shape it
has a different effect than combining a small shape with a big
By looking at size examples, you might see another principle of design
suggested. There are many general principles that work to produce
feelings, and meanings. There is an unlimited number of ways to
the elements, subject matter, and design principles to produce effects,
feelings, and meanings. This is why, when we solve problems in
we are not looking for one correct answer, but we are looking
or more solutions out of many unknown possible solutions.
contrast color, value, texture, line quality, shape character, size,
of subject matter, and other things. Can you figure out what is being
to get your attention?
and MOVEMENT Artists connect things and move the viewer eye
repetition. Interest and motion is added to artwork by repeating things
like shape, color, line type, value, subject matter, size, and so
If a color is repeated in different size or shape it may more
than if it is repeated in the same size or shape. If a tree and face
both green, they are connected by the green color. At the same
they are different (unconnected) because of subject and shape, and
because of size.
can also be used
to get attention. It is insistent. Did you ever repeat a
word to be sure to be heard heard? I almost missed a stop sign, but my
said, "Stop! Stop!" for emphasis. We lived to tell about it.
many other ways
to get movement. Does a diagonal line indicate more or less motion than
a vertical or horizontal line? Does a curved or jagged line suggest
about motion that is different than a straight line? How does a
line compare with a segmented line or a thinning and thickening line?
artwork pulls you back
into the work or holds you away from the work. Wow! How? How do they
the feeling of depth. Is it with size or linear perspective? Is
with color brightness and dullness? Is it with color warmth and
Is it with sharpness and blurryness? Is it with overlapping? Is
with placement higher and lower in the picture? Is it with framing, or
what? When you feel depth, can you figure out why you feel
Looking for evidences of depth helps you master the skill of creating
effects you want in your own work. A Secret: Some artists add
and magic by intentionally making their artwork look very flat.
is both general and very individual. Just as every person has a unique
handwriting, every person's art has a unique style. Some big general
are Realistic (photographic), Expressive (less realistic with lots
Fantastic (surrealistic) (real but impossible - as in a dream), Formal
orderly and controlled), Nonobjective (without subject matter),
(not realistic). Of course since every individual is unique, these are
often combined and there are many sub categories as well.