We began by reviewing the elements of art to help analyze what this artist did so well and give us a handle to grab onto as we experimented. I challenged my students to look at this list and find three of the key descriptors about the artwork they were examining. It's just too easy to be overwhelmed by how good an artist is at doing what you would like to do, and thus missing the way or ways you might actually learn from them!
Here's a list of basic art elements to examine:
- Is the color soft, harmonious, monochromatic or brilliant, exciting and saturated? Is there a pleasing unity or contrasting variety of color? Color creates mood.
- Many elements may contrast in a painting; size, colors, values, etc. The area of highest contrast draws the eye first.
- Physical strokes on the paper make texture, as does the look of a surface quality. Varied textures makes interest: rough, smooth, soft, hard. One texture is flat and boring.
- Consider the variety, energy, and the scale of strokes. They can be thick, juicy and descriptive, contrasted with smooth passages.
- Smaller touches that describe how something looks. Eye-catching. Too much overall becomes no detail at all.
- Soft and hard edges, both “lost and found”, help to sculpt space in a painting.
- The continuous mark made on some surface by moving a pen or brush, or the edge created when two shapes meets. Often an outline, contour or silhouette. Adds emphasis, but can detract if over used.
- Gradating of elements in size makes linear perspective, and in color and value makes aerial perspective. It creates form, and moves the eye around a form.
- Repeated elements make interesting variety. Monotony results when there is little variation.
- Balance is created by repeating same shapes or giving equal weight to all quadrants or parts of a composition, or may result from a harmonious use of the elements.
- One to three dominant elements are interesting and may harmonize a composition, adding needed emphasis.
- Form has height, width, depth, defined by light and shadows. There are two types of form, geometric (man-made) and natural (organic form). Often key in painting a still life or a portrait.
- The overall direction of the eye through the painting, giving action to the piece.
- Syncopated movement that starts and slows the eye’s path through the painting.
- Creates a sense of correct scale so that all the objects appear to be related properly in space.
I worked in gouache on a piece of Arches 300 lb. cold pressed watercolor paper that's approximately 6" x 8" in size, using a photograph of some flowers I had on hand.
Keep going, gang,