Thursday, September 30, 2010

Principles of Art - Unity

Unity: the quality of wholeness or oneness that is achieved through the effective use of the elements and principles of art.

Have you ever seen someone who is wearing striped tights, with polka dot sneekers, plaid shorts and a tie-dye t-shirt?
It doesn't look right, does it? The reason this outfit does not look good is because it lacks unity. There is not one thing that goes well with another. In art, we also try to create a sense of unity.

There are several ways that artists create unity in their works. For instance, unity is created with color.
The basic image above is a map of the United States, entitled Map, 1963 by Jasper Johns.The use of the three primary colors and gray throughout the entire picture creates a sense of unity. Along with color, the artist used similar brush strokes, which created a unifying texture. The printed words also repeat, although they are not all the same word. All of these elements work to bring a sense of unity to Map.

Principles of Art - Proportion

Proportion: the principle of art concerned with the size relationship of one part to another.

Something cannot be considered big unless it is compared to something which is considered small. Likewise, something cannot be considered small unless it is compared to something big.
If you saw only the clothespin*, you might assume that it is not very big at all. But when you see the people in the foreground, you can see that it is huge! It is 45 feet tall as a matter of fact!

*The artist is Claes Oldenburg, who created the 45-foot high Clothespin statue installed in 1976, west of City Hall on Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia. Another of his works is the Split Button, on display at the University of Pennsylvania.

Is this a real house or a dollhouse?*
What about this one?**

*Answer for the first house: It's a dollhouse!
**Answer for the second house: Canadian artist Heather Benning took an old abandoned farmhouse and turned it into this beautiful life-size dollhouse. She protected her creation with plexi-glass and left it there as an art installation.

Principles of Art - Variety

Variety: the principle of design concerned with difference or contrast.

Our lives would be very boring without variety. Imagine how our world would be if everything were exactly the same all the time. Imagine having the same cereal for breakfast every day, wearing the same clothes every day, listening to the same song every day, etc. It wouldn't be long before we'd be screaming for something different. Variety helps us keep things interesting in our lives, and it does the same for art.

In art, variety is used to create interest and draw attention to something. As a comparison, think of the last TV commercial you saw for a specific product. How long has that particular commercial been on the air? Have there been other ads for the same product? How many? The advertiser uses new ads for their products to maintain interest in their products. If they relied on the same ad for their product, people would lose interest quickly.

*Legos almost went out of business until they added in the right type of variety!

Principles of Art - Emphasis

Emphasis: the principle of art that makes one part of a work of art dominant over the other parts.

When you want to remind yourself to do something, you leave yourself a note in a very obvious place. When you want to make your point clear, you raise your voice or speak more slowly. These are examples of how people use emphasis to focus attention on something. Likewise, when you want someone to notice a specific part of an artwork first or you want one part to stand out more than another, you emphasize that part.

Artists use any device they can to give emphasis to a part of their work. They could use color, texture, size, shape, contrast -- anything to draw an observer's eye to a particular part of a work. What is the emphasis in Claude Monet's Impression Sunrise, 1876?
What did Monet do to draw your attention to a specific area of the painting?

Principles of Art - Pattern

Pattern: a two-dimensional decorative repetition.

Andy Warhol sometimes took everyday objects and created art from them. In this case, it's rows of Campbell's soup cans, which create a pattern. From a distance, this pattern could almost be a type of plaid*, but the closer you get, the easier it is to see that it really is rows of soup cans.

Here are other examples of Patterns:

Pattern print & Quilt patterns (google images)

*Plaid: horizontal stripes and vertical stripes in different colors overlapping each other.

Principles of Art - Rhythm

Rhythm: the principle of design which indicates movement by the repetition of elements.

In music, rhythm is created with sounds that are repeated at regular intervals. People dance to a consistent rhythm and different dances are identified by the different types of rhythms produced. In art, you receive rhythm through your eyes instead of through your ears. This is called visual rhythm.

There are several repetitive elements in the example below. The windows, the sidewalk, the overhang, and even the doors create a rhythm moving horizontally. Even though each window is slightly different, they are all the same size, so a consistent rhythm is produced:

Picture here

Now look at this picture:

(Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian)

The lines create a confusing sense of movement. They seem to go every which way, and there's no focal point. Your eye is drawn everywhere, kind of like a road map, and the smaller shapes balance the longer shapes to create an inconsistent rhythm.

Principles of Art - Movement

Movement: the principle used to create the look and feeling of action and to guide the viewer's eye throughout the work of art.

(Movement and Rhythm are very closely related)

Movement implies that an object is in motion. In art, we can create a work so it appears to be in motion. for instance, in a cartoon, we often see little lines that indicate a character is running, or their legs may be blurred to indicate speed. another aspect of movement in art is creating a work which invites the observer's eyes to move around the picture.

Artists are particularly aware of the importance of movement as it allows the artist to direct the observer's eye.


1. Medieval (Gothic) cathedrals use vertical movement with their pillars and high ceilings to draw the viewer's eye heavenward.

2. Horizontal movement tends to be perceived as safe and stable.

(Lunch Atop a Skyscraper, c.1932 by Charles C. Ebbets)

3. Diagonal movement gives a sense of instability and action, as evident when we see flowers bending in the wind or an athlete running.

4. Spiral movement gives us a sense of depth and space.

So, by using the correct techniques, we can create a real sense of movement in a work.

Look at the images below. Notice how the lines lead your eye to a specific point. In the first, your eye is drawn up and to the right, where the lines converge. In the second image, your eye is drawn into the concentric circles. in the last image, the curved lines as well as the straight lines all lead your eye toward the black square. these are all examples of how movement can be used in a drawing to move your eye (or draw attention to) a specific point. In a drawing or painting, artists use different techniques to draw the viewer's eye to a specific point on the picture plane. They can use any of the elements or principles of design as attention-getters:
  • color
  • line
  • value
  • shape
  • emphasis

Even Leonardo used some of these devices to get the viewer to focus on one particular part (her face). As you can see, the places where the light and dark meet create lines that point to her face. No matter where on the painting we look, the lines lead our eyes back to her face.

Principles of Art - Balance

Balance can be symmetrical, asymmetrical, or radial.

1. Symmetrical balance (formal balance) is used to express ideas such as stability, uniformity, and formality. In symmetrical balance both halves of a work are like mirror images of each other. They are exactly alike or so similar that you see them as matched. The symmetry can be either vertical or horizontal. In other words, it can be symmetrical from top to bottom (vertical), or from side to side (horizontal).

2. In asymmetrical (informal balance), the halves of the work are balanced like a see-saw. For example, a large shape on one side might be balanced by several smaller ones on the other side or, a large shape close to the fulcrum (or balancing point) may be balanced with a smaller object further away. A smaller area with bright colors can have as much visual "weight" and interest as a large area with a dull color. Asymmetrical balance is often used to express action, variety, and informality.

3. In radial balance, parts of a design seem to move toward or away from a central point. Radial balance is often symmetrical. the petals on flowers and wheels of bicycles (shown here as Marcel Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel, 1951) are examples of radial balance.

Can you figure out which is which?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Elements of Art - Color

Color is a difficult word to define. The dictionary defines it as follows:

Color: a phenomenon of light or visual perception that enables one to differentiate other-wise identical objects.

Now, forget about the definition. color is a product of light. Our ultimate source of light is the sun. When the sun shines on an object, it sends light rays towards that object. These light rays contain all colors. We can see the different colors in the form of a rainbow. A rainbow is simply a ray of light broken into smaller pieces (colors) by a prism (usually a raindrop). (bring a prism to class)

A rainbow's colors always appear in the same order: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet (purple). A good way to remember the order of these colors is to think of a guy named:


The color of an object is really light reflected, or bounced off its surface. For instance, if you see a read flower, the flower is absorbing all other colors except red. The red light is reflected into your eye, and that's what you see.

Objects that are WHITE reflect all light (all colors combined).
Objects that are BLACK absorb all light (absence of color).

The color wheel is a diagram which illustrated how the different colors are related. It is divided into different categories which will help you in choosing the correct color for any project you are working on. It will be beneficial to become very familiar with the color wheel.

There are three main types of colors: Primary, secondary, and tertiary.

1. Primary colors: Red, Yellow, and Blue. All colors on the color wheel are made up by mixing different amounts of the primary colors. Primary colors can NOT be made by mixing any other colors.

2. Secondary colors: These colors are created by mixing two primary colors in equal amounts. Orange (red + yellow), Green (yellow + blue), and Violet (Purple) (blue + red).

3. Tertiary colors: are made by mixing a primary color with a secondary color. There are six of these colors: yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, red-orange, and yellow-orange (see color wheel above).

Warm vs. Cool

Colors can be divided into two main groups: warm and cool colors. They are so named because they actually look as the names imply. If you draw a straight line that passes between yellow and yellow-green, then passes between violet and red-violet, you will have the dividing point. The colors on the side from yellow to red-violet are the warm colors. The colors from violet to yellow-green are the the cool colors.

Color Relationships

The colors are the color wheel relate to each other in different ways.

1. Analogous colors: are next to each other on the color wheel. They are usually in groups of threes and have a color in common. For example, blue, blue-violet, and violet all have the color blue in common.

2. Complementary colors: are directly opposite each other on the color wheel:
a. Red to Green
b. Yellow to Purple
c. Blue to Orange
d. White to Black (not on color wheel, but still opposites)

When complements are mixed together, they make a neutral gray or brown. When used next to each other in a painting, they create a strong contrast (see post "Principles of Art -Contrast").

3. Hue: another name for color. It's the name that identifies what the color is, such as red or blue.

4. Tint: a lighter value of a pure color, usually made by adding white. For example, pink is a tint of red.

5. Shade: a darker value of a color, usually made by adding black.

6. Neutral: a color not associated with a hue - such as black, white, or gray (sometimes brown). They are called neutral because they can be combined next to other hues and create pleasing color schemes.

Elements of Art - Form

Form: the appearance of having three-dimensions (3-D), whether the artwork is two-dimensional or three-dimensional.

Three-dimensional (3-D) objects have height, width, and depth. Form deals mostly with three-dimensional art, but also applies to two-dimensional art in the respect that we can make objects look like they have form by using value (shading - a gradual change in value). This change is used to create the illusion of three-dimensional form.

To illustrate three-dimensionality, look at the images* below (click on the image to enlarge it):
The subtle variations in value give the illusion of depth. It looks like we could almost reach in and pet the horse. The line drawing (right) looks flat (two-dimensional), and we are not fooled into thinking the horse has form. However, in the second image, the horse is taking on more depth by using shading. In the final image (far right), the horse is now a 3D sculpture.

Elements of Art - Value

Value: the graduation from light to dark across a form. In art, value is important in creating a sense of depth in a picture. 

In the above box (value scale), you can see how the value changes from 100 % black on the bottom to 100% white on the top. A gradation is a smooth blending from one value to another. This is a difficult skill to master, but when you master it, it will help you immeasurably in your drawing. Value can help you make your drawings look more three-dimensional (3-D). for instance, look at the difference between these two drawings. which looks like a sphere and which looks like a disc?

In the case of the pictures mentioned above, it is the subtle use of value that creates the illusion of depth or three-dimensionality (3-D).

*Value scale #1: Cross-hatching is done by making a lot of little X's. When you want the lines to be darker, press harder and make the X's closer together. To make the X's lighter, press gently and make the X's further apart.(etching of Rembrandt under "Drawing" post)

*Value scale #2: Stippling is done with dots only. The farther apart they are, and the lighter you press with a pencil, the lighter the value. You can also make the area darker by pressing harder and by making the dots closer together. (comic books and newspapers)

*Value scale #3: True gradation (smooth blending from light to dark) is created by making tiny circular motions with your pencil. If, instead, you make the marks across the box instead of in tiny circles, you will have trouble making the transition from light to dark smooth.

*If you look carefully at a simple object sitting in the light, you will notice that there are different degrees of light on the object. To illustrate this, look at an object such as a ball or an apple and place it on a plain white paper under a light source (such as a lamp). compare it to the example on the right. Can you identify all the different degrees of light listed below?

1. Highlight: the brightest part of the object.
2. Light: the area immediately surrounding the highlight. Not as bright as the highlight.
3. Shadow: the part of the object where light first begins to fade. Not as dark as the core shadow or the cast shadow.
4. Core shadow: the darkest shadow on the object itself where light does not reach.
5. Reflected light: light that bounces off the surface on which the object is resting. Not as light as the light or highlighted areas mentioned above.
6. Cast shadow: the shadow cast directly on the surface on which the object is resting. The darkest shadows are closest to the object, and they fade and get lighter the further away from the object they get.

Look closely at the next illustration. Notice how the subtle use of value helps create a sense of depth and how the various objects look three-dimensional (3-D). See how the shadows give the objects a sense of realism, depth, and volume? Compare it to the disk in the second image. It completely lacks any sense of depth.

Now look especially at the golf ball and answer the following questions:

1. Can you identify the six degrees of light that you learned about above?2. Where is the light source coming from?
3. Can you see the highlights? The cast shadow? The reflected light?

Elements of Art - Texture

Texture: the way that a surface feels or that it looks like it feels. texture can be sensed by touch or sight. There are two types of texture.

1. Actual Texture: texture that can actually be felt. For example, feel the difference between the carpet and a table top. The carpet is soft and rough, while the table top is hard and smooth.

2. Simulated Texture: texture that is created visually. You can draw objects so they apear to be smooth, rough, hard, squishy, sticky, etc.

Which of these textures above looks the smoothest? The roughest? The sharpest? The softest? it is with texture that we lure an observer into the picture to ask, "How did they do that?" In the bottom picture, the first segment of the drawing looks pretty flat, like it doesn't have much texture at all. The second one looks like it has some texture, and the third one actually looks wet. The last one looks like you could actually touch it and feel the raised areas and the indentations. This is what simulated texture is for.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Elements of Art - Space

Space: the area between, around, above, below, or within objects.

The element of space is very closely related to that of shape. In fact, some of the terms we used in reference to shape can also be used when talking about space, and they have similar meanings. For instance, there are essentially two kinds of space:

1. Positive space: this is the area taken up by the object(s) you are drawing.

2. Negative space: everything in your drawing that is not the object itself.

Example: The hunter and his hound (orange area of above picture) make up the positive space. The remaining white area is the negative space. Now look at a different version of the same drawing. With the colors reversed, the effect is different. This time, the white is the positive space and the orange is the negative space.
On a flat surface, we have the ability to give the impression of not only height and width (two-dimensional space), but also of depth (three-dimensional space). There are several different techniques that you can incorporate in your drawings to give the illusion of depth. This added depth can give a more realistic feel to the drawing, therefore making it appear more believable.

When considering space in a drawing, you must also ask yourself what effect you would like to get across to the observer. Different usages of space can give the observer a different feeling about the picture. You can make them feel lonely, claustrophobic, or even small, to name a few.

Following are some ways that you can use space to show depth or to get across a different feeling. Notice that it has to do with the placement on the page, how much of the object is showing, the size of each object, etc.

*This drawing shows one tree in roughly the middle of the page. Not much thought went into its placement (making it relatively uninteresting), but the balance of positive to negative space is fairly equal.

*By making the tree smaller and placing it near the top of the page, it seems to be far away. With so much negative space, this drawing gives us a sense of distance, or perhaps even lonliness.

*Now, with several trees in the picture that get smaller as they get closer to the top, we've created more of a sense of depth or distance. The smaller trees seem farther away, and the larger ones seem close. Also, objects at the bottom of the  page look closer than do those at the top of a page. It now seems a little more crowded, and not quite as lonely.

*This time, by overlapping them (putting them one in front of the other), the trees really look as if they go off in the distance. Notice again that the smaller ones are nearer the top and the larger ones are nearer the bottom. now, by comparing this picture to the last one above, notice how it actually looks as if you are closer to the ground in this one. The previous one looks as if it were viewed from a great height.

*In this one, the tree seems much larger and closer because it appears that it was too big to fit entirely on the page. Notice the negative space (shape) created by this picture.

*Depth can also be created by making objects that are farther away appear lighter, and get darker as they get closer. to see evidence of this, take a look at a range of mountains in the distance. Notice that the farther away they get, the lighter they get. the technical term for this effect is called atmospheric perspective.

*Pictures here

Elements of Art - Shape

Shape: a line, usually enclosed so as to have height, width, and/or depth (i.e. a cube). A shape can be two- or three-dimensional and positive or negative.

Shapes can be divided into two categories:

1. Geometric: shapes created by mathematical laws. Examples are: triangle, circle, square, rhombus, trapezoid, pentagon, etc. (May include composite shapes - see below)

2. Free-form: irregular and uneven shapes which may include such things as puddles, clouds, and stones. Also included under the category of free-form shapes are organic shapes. Organic means "from living organisms" such as trees, flowers, animals, and even humans. (May include composite shapes - see below)

As the above definition states, a shape does not necessarily have to be an enclosed line. When we see a line, our mind can automatically enclose it to form a specific shape. For instance, what shape does your mind first envision when it sees four dots in a pattern from a die? Our mind will most likely join the dots to make a square, but they could very well be connected to form a completely different shape, such as a four petal flower.

Our mind likes to make connections. When it sees a drawing with sections missing (i.e.a dot-to-dot puzzle), it wants the lines to meet. Notice how, even though the lines do not connect, your mind can actually interpret what these shapes represent.

Positive Shapes: the shapes we have talked about so far have been created by space taken up by the object itself.

Negative Shapes: are made up of what's left in the picture format around the positive shape.

Look at this example:

What do you see? 

If you see the white area as the positive shape, than it is a candlestick or vase and the black area is the surrounding shape is the negative shape. 

If you see the black area as the positive shape, than you see two people facing each other and the white area is the negative shape.

When you draw, it is important to keep the negative shapes in mind as much as the positive shapes. In the illustration below, notice how the positive shapes blend in to become the negative shapes, and vice versa. Is this a picture of birds flying to the left or the right?
 MC Escher:

Composite shape: A composite shape is created by combining two or more shapes to make a single shape.
Next, we see two organic shapes -- a hunter and a dog. Separately, it is easy to see that they would be different objects. When combined into a single composite shape, they become something new:

Elements of Art - Line

Line - a continuous mark made on a surface, using a tool such as a pencil, pen, brush, or any other pointed object.

1. The Straight Line: A straight line, as you probably already know, is a line that contains no curves. It is the shortest distance between two points. It can be made using any kind of straight edge.

2. The Curved Line: A curved line is any line that is not straight. It is also referred to as "curvilinear." If a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, then a curved line is the longer way there.

3. The Thick Line: A thick line has width or mass. It could actually be considered a shape, since it has area or volume. Other names for thick lines are wide, fat, bold, and broad. Thick lines are used for emphasis.

4. The Thin Line: A thin line appears to have no thickness. (In actuality, it does, but it is not very much compared to a thick line.) Thin lines are subtle and are used primarily for indicating other shapes.

5. The Light Line: A light line is drawn so as to look like there was very little pressure applied to the page when drawing. In other words, when you don't push very hard with a pencil, it produces a very light line. A very hard pencil will produce similar results. These are extremely helpful when beginning any project. They are easily erased, and they are not very noticeable in the finished product. They can act as guides for darker, more permanent lines.

6. The Dark Line: A dark line is usually used when the project is approaching completion. It is made by pushing hard with a soft pencil. It is used for emphasis.

7. The Vertical Line: Vertical lines go straight up and down. They lie perpendicular (at right angles) to the horizon. They indicate the height of an object and can also represent growth.

8. The Horizontal Line: This line takes its name from the word "horizon," so horizontal means that it represents or is parallel to the horizon. The horizon is the point in the distance where the earth meets the sky. Horizontal lines can represent something at rest.

9. The Diagonal Line: A diagonal line runs at an angle other than vertical (90*) or horizontal (180*). It appears to be leaning over and can represent a state of unrest or tension.

10. The Gesture Line: A gesture line implies movement or placement. They may represent a simple rendering of how a subject is moving. It does not incorporate a lot of detail, and is fairly simple in appearance. Gesture lines are made quickly and used essentially as a "skeleton" for a more detailed drawing. They are made to set up the composition and develop basic shapes.

11. The Contour Line: This is the most common type of line used in drawing. It represents the out-line, or contour of a subject. contour lines, when closed, create shapes. Cross-contour lines are those that fill in simple detail within the shapes.

Diego Rivera came to Detroit during the Great Depression and, in the very center of the Detroit Institute of Art, created a tribute to industry and workers. These murals reveal Rivera’s fascination with industrial processes – and his critique of the political and social realities of capitalist enterprise.

The murals assert the benefits of industrial processes, but warn of their destructive side effects. The aviation industry produces planes for war as well as for travel. Scientific discoveries allow us to fight disease – and create poison gases.

Rivera also reminds us that all human endeavor is rooted in the natural world. The scenes of Michigan industry – from chemical production to car manufacturing – are all accompanied by images of natural structures and processes. And in a prominent position facing the museum’s Woodward entrance, Rivera painted an infant in the bulb of a plant, nourished by the earth.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Hi! This is my second year teaching art, although I will be teaching 1-4 grade art this year, instead of K-6 art & music. I love how creative my students are and watching them gain confidence through the creative process. You can look forward to some fun/interesting projects in many different mediums/genres. Again this year, we will be having an art show. It is titled Unmasked: the Real Me and is sure to be fabulous!

In 2007, I graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in Art History. I have always loved art and continue to pursue classes in art. In 2009, I graduated from the University of Phoenix with a MAED/TED degree in Elementary Education and am excited to be teaching!

In my free time, I enjoy thinking up new art projects, creating wheel thrown pottery, running/rollerblading with friends, shopping, sewing, reading, and traveling. I love learning new things and continue to take classes through different sources. Currently, I'm pursuing both Reading and Math Endorsements and am greatly enjoying my classes.

I hope you feel free to approach me for any reason and would love extra adult help in the classroom as you are able. If you ever need to discuss anything, I am most easily reached by email: If you would like to conference with me, I would be glad to meet with you before or after school, by email, and/or by phone.

Miss Elaine Siglin