we Use the principles of art to create successful paintings
Learning the basic principles of art made me a better painter.
Painting takes practice, lots of practice. While we are practicing, it's good to learn the fundamental principles of good paintings.
Art elements and principles appear over and over in good paintings. The elements and principles work together for us to create successful artwork.
Use the art principles in your paintings.
how many principles of art are there?
Artists have different opinions on how many art principles there are.
We will look at about ten principles of art and how they are used in the barn painting below. Several of the principles are overlapping or may be used together.
But first, what's the difference between art elements and art principles?
We use the elements of art in our paintings according to the principles of art.
what are some of elements of art?
Paintings are made with the art elements of line, shape, form, space,
texture, values and color. We can speed up our art journey by learning
and using these elements in our artwork.
Line is the basic and most common element of art. It is a mark that starts at one point and continues on. It may be a straight, curved, zigzag, etc. Artists may use actual lines or imply lines by the principle of movement.
Shape is a two-dimensional representation of an object. We see it as the height and width of an object.
Form is the three-dimensional representation of an object, height, width and depth.
Space can be defined as positive or negative space. An object takes up the positive space. The area around an object is called negative space.
Texture refers to the surface of items. Silk has a smooth texture and wool is rough textured. Artists may paint the textures using various values and colors. Or we may create an actual texture in the paint with brush marks or palette knives.
Values are the light and darkness of an item. Value ranges from white to black and all the variations in between. Colors also have values. Yellow is the lightest value and purple is the darkest color value.
Color is the joy of painting art. We can paint love, peace, confusion or harmony all by using color.
Successful oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings all use the art elements.
what are the common principles of art?
Let's look at the common art principles of: rhythm, movement, proportion, balance, emphasis, contrast, unity (harmony), pattern, repetition and variety.
Whew, that sounds like a lot! We will take them one step at a time.
rhythm and movement
A painting can flow like rhythm of music.
The viewer moves through the painting.
Rhythm is created by the spaces between the elements in the painting.
The red line on the left indicates the rhythm created by the patches of sun and shadow on the road.
Movement is indicated in a line like a bird flying or a man running.
Movement can also be the path of the viewer's eyes, as they move through the painting.
The road (indicated by the straight red line on the right) moves the viewer into the painting and up to the large barn.
balance and proportion
This is not the barn painting, but a photograph that beautifully demonstrates the principles of art of proportion and balance.
Balance the painting
Balance in paintings works like a teeter-totter.
If we have a large object on one side of the painting, we need more space on the other side for balance. The rule of thirds creates perfect balance.
Proportion means the objects in a painting relate to each other's size naturally.
Proportion is easy to overlook when we are engrossed in painting.
Don't concentrate so much on one item and paint it too big compared to the other items in the painting. All the objects in a painting need to be in their natural proportion to each other.
Pop-art may not be in proportion, but we use proportion when we want things to look natural.
emphasis and contrast
Emphasis and contrast are the principles of art used to create focal points. Movement brought the viewers up the road to the large barn.
Use emphasis and contrast in the focal point.
Emphasis brings attention to things in the painting, in this case the large barn.
The barn's size and values emphasize it.
Contrast also, brings attention to things in the painting. Notice that the front wall of the big barn is the lightest thing in the painting.
Squint our eyes and look at the things in the large red circle. We see everything in the large circle is a darker value than the barn wall.
In real life the sky would be the lightest thing, but the barn wall was painted lighter to emphasis it.
In addition to values, artists may use contrasting colors, texture and hard edges to create emphasis.
Paint a landscape using the principles of art.
unity and harmony
Unity and Harmony are quite similar. They mean all the parts of the painting are working together. The items in the painting relate to each other.
Different parts of the painting are not competing with each other. The painting feels complete and peaceful.
patterns and repetition
Patterns and repetition give the viewers more to see. It keeps them in the painting longer.
Patterns and repetition provide interest.
Patterns are things repeated over and over to create a design. That's great on fabric, but in paintings we need to vary our patterns.
Notice the pattern of shadows on the front barn. Each shadow is a different shape. There is a variation in their colors. Some of the shadows go up on the roof for more variation.
Repetition of objects, colors or lines can be useful. There is a repetition of rocks in the right foreground.
A single, lone rock would detract from the focal point. Multiple rocks added interest without detracting from the barn.
The leaves of the large tree on the right are another repetition. They are painted with a variety of shape, color and values to keep them from being boring.
Variety keeps our paintings interesting.
Notice in the barn painting there three separate buildings. Each building is a different size. Each building is a different color, a different shape and different values.
That's variety! It keeps the viewers interested. There is a variety of colors, even in the same object.
Variety keeps our paintings from being boring.
what have we learned?
We just went through a bunch of technical stuff, so let's review.
We use art elements according to the art principles.
What are the elements of art?
- Lines, we all made them the first time we picked up a pencil.
- Shape is the two dimensions of an object.
- Form is a three-dimensional object.
positive or negative space.
- Texture is how rough or smooth it is.
- Values are how light or dark something is.
- Color is red, yellow, blue, etc.
What are the principles or art?
- Rhythm is made by repeating shapes, colors or values.
- Movement pulls the viewer in and thru the painting.
- Balance in painting works just like a teeter-totter.
means the size of each object is true to reality.
- Emphasis makes things stand out in the painting.
- Contrast is created by opposing colors, values or edges.
- Unity and harmony are when everything is working together.
Patterns and repetition are repeating things in the painting.
- Variety resists boredom.
what is composition in painting?
Composition uses the principles of art to arrange the art elements (color, values, etc.) in a pleasing manner.
When I was doing the barn painting was
I thinking about the principles of art?
I only thought about 4
- a focal point
we concentrate on a good composition, using a variety of values, use color well and creating a focal point, we will have a good painting.
Forget about all the other technical stuff.
just paint and have fun!