ARTS CHAPTER 2 II. Composition A composition refers to the organized arrangement of the elements of art. The methods, or guidelines, for arranging the

ARTS CHAPTER 2

II. Composition

A composition refers to the organized arrangement of the elements of art. The methods, or guidelines, for arranging the elements of art are known as the principles of design. To simplify this concept, think of the elements of art and the principles of design as a “recipe” for a work of art. In this analogy, an artist is like a chef who first selects ingredients for a culinary creation, and then follows a set of directions to make the dish. Depending on the creativity of the chef, the recipe may be manipulated for a completely original taste and appearance. Like chefs, visual artists follow a set of directions. Principles of design include balance, contrast, rhythm, unity, variety, scale and proportion that may be used to manipulate the elements of art. For example, the artist may balance the elements to create visual equilibrium, or repeat certain elements in a motif to create a visual rhythm, which in turn helps the viewer’s eye flow through a work of art. A focal point can be created with contrast or implied lines. Each element has its own purpose and qualities.

The Elements of Art

Line

One of the most fundamental elements in composition is line. A line is the visible path of a moving point, or a series of connected points. Its qualities are length, width, and movement. There are various kinds of lines: a line may be straight or curved, horizontal or vertical, broken or continuous, streamlined (clearly defined) or blurry, distinct or implied. Like the other elements, lines can play several roles in a work of art: they can convey emotion, create the illusion of depth, and even control the manner in which the viewer’s eye travels through the composition. Thus, line, appearing as a path, or a moving point, can be a powerful tool for the artist who understands how to manipulate it.

How can something as simple as a line convey emotion? Examine the four different lines illustrated below. Which one seems to cause a feeling of agitation? Which one could suggest a sense of calmness? Which one might make you feel bored? What mood does the fourth set of lines express?

Lines, Four Examples.

In comparison to the slanted lines shown in the Figure above, Dutch artists that were members of the early twentieth-century movement called de Stijl (the Style) used vertical and horizontal lines to create a precisely measured grid in which all of the lines intersect perpendicularly. They believed that the geometric forms created by hard, straight lines expressed universal harmony; and, in the crossing of these horizontal and vertical lines, they attempted to represent a balance of oppositional forces such as masculine/feminine, active/passive, etc. On the other hand, Vincent van Gogh’s use of lines in Starry Night creates an entirely different effect, one that is emotional and provocative. The night sky is painted with a series of thick, swirling lines surrounding blinding yellow stars, evoking a sense of supernatural energy. This chaotic movement of the sky is contrasted by a sense of tranquility and quietude in the town below, through the artist’s use of horizontal and vertical lines.

Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night, 1889, oil on canvas, Museum of ­Modern Art, New York. © Corel Inc.

From Art 101: Understanding Visual Art Forms in Our World by Kimberly Anderson and Jenny Carson. Copyright © 2010 by Kendall Hunt Publishing Company. Reprinted by permission.

Aside from conveying emotion, lines can also create depth, even when an artist does not rely on shading to create volume. Drawings created with outline only, and without the use of shading, are called contour drawings. In a contour drawing, an artist can imply a three-dimensional form by varying the line’s length, width, and direction using a technique called line variation. For example, in Rod Batista de Leao’s drawing of his grandmother, Adelina at 104, the artist creates depth by controlling the slimness or width of the line; the major contours of the sitter’s face and glasses are rendered with darker lines, while her hair and expression lines within the portrait are comprised of thinner, lighter lines.

Rod Batista de Leao, Adelina at 104, nd., pencil. Courtesy of the artist.

Line may also be implied. Implied lines are not visible per se, but instead create a visual path designed to direct the viewer’s attention to a place in the painting that the artist wishes to emphasize. In 1814, Spanish artist Francisco Goya made a series of paintings in response to the violent upheaval between French soldiers and Spanish civilians that had occurred in May of 1808. On the day following a bloody peasant uprising against the French troops on May 2, 1808, the army retaliated by indiscriminately executing unarmed Spanish prisoners. In The Executions of May 3, 1808, the lines created by the rifles of the French firing squad guide the viewer’s eye directly to the intended victim. Noting that the man is unarmed and vulnerable, we automatically sympathize with his plight. Moreover, Goya combines implied line with an ingenious use of light. The lamplight illuminates the marked man, reflecting off of his bright white shirt, causing it to glow against the dark background. Goya may have chosen white for the man’s clothing, because it is sometimes associated with innocence and surrender. Thus, our victim becomes the focal point of this picture through the artist’s manipulation of line, light, and color.

Light, Color, and Value

As our analysis of Goya’s painting indicates, the visual elements are often interconnected, and this is especially true with light, value, and color, because color is actually a component of light. In the late seventeenth century, Sir Isaac Newton discovered that white light, when shone through a prism, separated into distinct colors (hues). One can observe this same phenomenon (called light refraction) when viewing a rainbow, because the water acts as a prism, causing the white light to separate into the colors of the visible spectrum. Light refraction is the basis for the additive color system, referring to the fact that when all of the colors of light are combined, they transform into white light. Newton outlined his discoveries in his 1704 book, Optiks, a treatise that was to be especially influential to artists of the following centuries.

Although knowledge of light refraction is useful for the study of color harmonies and relationships, the properties of light and the properties of pigment (paint) are very different. For example, all of the colors of a rainbow combine to form white light, while pigments combine to form a dark grayish/brownish hue. For this reason, most artists that work with paint or other similar media, use the subtractive color system, which is comprised of both primary and secondary colors. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue, and from various combinations of these three colors, all of the other colors are made. The secondary colors, purple, orange, and green, are produced by mixing two primary colors. For example:

■ red + blue = purple or violet

■ red + yellow = orange

■ blue + yellow = green

Intermediate or tertiary colors are made by combining a primary color with a secondary color, and the names of tertiary colors begin with that of the primary color, followed by the secondary color.

For example:

■ red + orange = red-orange

■ red + purple or violet = red-violet

■ yellow + orange = yellow-orange

■ yellow + green = yellow-green

■ blue + purple or violet = blue-violet

■ blue + green = blue-green

As we have seen, colors may be grouped in a myriad of ways, and in order to study color combinations and their relationships, one may use a color wheel. The color wheel, developed in the eight­eenth century, is a schematic chart in which primary, secondary, and tertiary colors are arranged sequentially so that related colors are next to each other, and complementary colors (colors that intensify each other) are directly opposite: red is opposite of green, blue is opposite of orange, and yellow is opposite of purple. Based on his study of the concept of complementary colors, nineteenth-century French chemist Michel-Eugène Chevreul discovered a phenomenon he called “simultaneous color contrast.” Among other things, he found that when one stares at a particular color, the complementary color appears in the viewer’s peripheral vision. Chevreul’s theories had important implications for artists who could juxtapose colors for added visual effects. Thus, to paint a shadow on an apple, a tiny dot of green, rather than gray or black, must be added to the red in order to create a less intense color that would simulate a shadow. To create a visual shadow on the leaf of an apple, a tiny dot of red should be added to the green to dull its intensity. Color combinations are also used by designers for optimal visual effect, often going in and out of style. For example, during the 1970s, one of the most popular color schemes was a variation of green, yellow, and orange, a combination used by every­one from interior decorators to fashion designers.

Rembrandt, Young Man in a Plumed Hat, 1631, oil on wood, Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio. © Corel Inc.

Value Scales. © Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.

When artists restrict their palette to only one color, they are utilizing a monochromatic color scheme. In order to create a sense of depth and volume in a monochromatic painting, artists vary the value (lightness or darkness) of a color. The range of a color’s value is illustrated in a value scale, in which artists vary degrees of white and black to make the color lighter and/or darker. In the early twentieth century, Spanish artist Pablo Picasso produced a series of paintings comprised primarily of the color blue, in a phase of his career that came to be known as his Blue Period. In his Old Blind Man and Boy, from 1903, a gaunt old man wearing rags sits beside a young boy, wrapped in a blanket, eating a single piece of bread. The artist defines the figures by using various shades of blue; highlights and shadows of the clothing outline their thin bodies, while the stark contrast of dark and light blue of their feet causes them to appear almost skeletal.

As we can see in Picasso’s painting of the old man and boy, in order to create the illusion of a three-dimensional object, an artist arranges values from dark to light so that the darkest hue forms a shadow and the lightest is the highlight. The depiction of light and dark in a painting is called chiaroscuro, an Italian word that means chiaro (light) and scuro (dark). In addition to creating volume using chiaroscuro, artists may use the contrast of light and shadow to create an atmosphere or mood in a painting. In seventeenth-century Dutch artist Rembrandt’s Young Man in a Plumed Hat, the subject appears to be sitting in a dark interior because much of his torso is in shadow. A bright light rakes across the right side of his face, casting a shadow over his eyes, imbuing the portrait with a sense of introspection and mystery.

Shape and Mass

Shape, or positive space, is an enclosed area defined by a line. Shapes stand out from the background of an image, which is usually referred to as negative space. In two-dimensional artforms like paintings, prints, drawings, or photographs, the term shape (spaces enclosed by a line) are flat like the surface on which they are found; thus two-dimensional shapes have length, heighth, or width, but no depth. Depth refers to three-dimensional objects that actually occupy space, such as sculpture and architecture. When describing a three-dimensional object, we sometimes use the term mass and may use adjectives such as thick, solid, or dense.

In both two-dimensional and three-dimensional art forms, there are two distinct types of shapes and mass; geometric and organic. Geometric shapes (sometimes called regular shapes) are often manmade as they are based on precise mathematical formulae. Organic or irregular shapes are those that are found in nature like rocks, mud puddles, or amoeba; synonyms for organic shapes are abstract, biomorphic, and amorphous. Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky’s Abstracted Improvisation, from 1913 contains a variety of abstract, organic shapes that seem to float and move about the canvas.

Egyptian Canon of Proportion diagram.

Knowing how anything is put together makes it more interesting. In terms of the visual arts, knowledge of how a work of art has been created helps the viewer to understand something about the artist’s process. This may also facilitate contextual comprehension, leading to clearer visual communication between the artist and audience.

ASSIGNMENT:

On the above topic learned in this course , create a PowerPoint presentation on that chapter topic.

Project requirements:

1) Combine research and images to explain your topic.

2) The presentation must be visually appealing and content rich, which means it must include relevant images and factual, well researched, credible information.

3) The PowerPoint must be a total of 15 slides. 

4) The first slide must list the specific project topic, the student’s name and course/section number.

5) The next ten slides must introduce, develop, and conclude the topic.

6) The next 3 slides (slides 12, 13, 14) will focus on Marketable Skills. Students must review the content in the Marketable Skills tab to identify the skills within the Core Objectives of Critical Thinking, Teamwork, and Social Responsibility. Select and discuss any 2 skills in each of the three (3) core objectives that you think you have demonstrated while doing this assignment. (One Core Objective with 2 Marketable Skills per slide = total of 3 slides on Marketable Skills).

7)
Slide 15, the last slide, must list all the sources that are used for the project. Expect to use about 5-10 sources.

Grading criteria:

Project demonstrates mastery of course content; makes numerous/rich connections to course content, terms, and ideas.

Thesis is clear and focused; argues a point; offers original analysis; serves as an organizing principle for the entire project.

Project supports each claim with compelling evidence; evidence is seamlessly integrated into project.

Paragraphs begin with topic sentences that support thesis; smooth transitional sentences connect paragraphs; conclusion moves beyond summary; prose is beautiful and prose is polished and graceful; sentence structure is varied throughout project.

Project demonstrates almost perfect grammar and mechanics; no more than 1 major error (sentence fragment, run-on sentence, comma splice); no more than 2 minor errors (typos, spelling, subject-verb agreement, punctuation, etc.).

The project has no citation errors and no errors on the works cited page.

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