Principles of Art

  • 13 May 2012 06:33
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The principles of art help artists plan their art and think about how other people will react to the artwork. The principles are balance, contrast, proportion, pattern, rhythm, emphasis, unity, and variety.

Understanding the elements and principles of art helps people talk and think about art.

Balance: refers to the weight distribution or apparent weight of a piece. The arch is used to support the roof and allow for people to pass below it. This creates balance both visually and structurally. Balance can be created by the illusion of art.

Contrast: can be defined as the contrast between two colors used to create visual art. Black and white, for example, is a well-known stark contrast that can bring life to an art piece or ruin it. Monochromatic colors can make contrast subtle, giving the final piece of artwork variety and unity.

Emphasis: Color, unity, balance or any other principle of art can be used to emphasize a focal point. Artists use emphasis to place a string of purple in a field of gold. The contrast in color between the dark purple and gold causes the gold lettering pop out, making it the central point.

Rhythm/Movement: is a repetition that's used to show movement or expanse. A painting depicting waves breaking will show the viewer the movement of the waves as they end. A painting will have movement if it uses bold, directional brushwork.

Scale/Proportion: The relationship between items in a picture, such as the sky and the mountains, is called proportion. It looks out of proportion if the sky occupies more than two-thirds the size of the painting. Art scale is very similar to proportion. If something is too small, it can look strange. It will appear out of scale if the hands of a person are too big for their bodies, or if they have too many hands. Artists can use scale and proportion to exaggerate landscapes or people.

Unity and variety: Art conveys completeness and pleasure. The art also conveys unity and cohesion. When the patterns are arranged together, it creates unity in the object or picture. Variety should be the opposite of unity and encourage awareness and changes in the art piece. If they are within the same color group, colors can create unity. However, a splash of red could add variety.

Pattern: A pattern is a way that something is structured and repeated in its form or shape. It can also flow in a random fashion without any structure. The pattern can branch out like flowers or form spirals or circles in a group of soap bubbles. It may also appear irregular in cracked or dry mud. Even though they may seem difficult to identify, all works of art contain some kind of pattern. The pattern is formed by the colors, illustrations, and many other art methods.


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Sherry Peterson By, Sherry Peterson
Sherry Peterson is an editor for Sanford. She has a passion for home gadgets and beautiful design and loves to share her finds with others. Sherry has been working in the publishing industry for over 10 years and is excited to bring her expertise to Sanford's readers.
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