Part 2: The Principles of Art
Now that you're all pro on the Elements of Art, let's kick it up a notch and throw in some Principles. First off, what are Principles of Art, and how are they different from Elements of Art? It's a really good question, and one that is best explained by baking. If a work of art is like a baked goody, then the Elements are the separate ingredients and the Principles are the methods for combining the ingredients. For example, you get ready to bake some cookies for a visiting Sith Lord. You gather your ingredients: butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and chocolate chips; and then you put them together. You can't just dump it all into a bowl, mash it up and stick the whole thing in the oven, of course - that would be gross and probably earn you one of those terrifying invisible strangulations. You have to first mix the butter and the sugar together and then add in the eggs so it's all smooth, then beat in the flour and chocolate so you have some yummy dough. The order of the ingredients and all the mixing, adding, and beating are the methods for combining the ingredients in a way that makes something delicious and not yucky. The principles of art are methods for using or combining elements of art in the same way. Another thing to think about, if you change the methods you use to combine the ingredients, even though you use pretty much the same ingredients, you can get a different product. Changing how you mix cookie ingredients together could mean you end up with cake instead. Changing what principles of art an artist uses in a painting can be the difference between this
|Pearblossom Highway, 11-18th April 1986 #2, David Hocknet (1986)|
|The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, Katsushika Hokusai (1829-1832)|
- Movement - this can be how people or things look like they are moving in the artwork (remember, I'm talking only about visual art)
- For art that doesn't have people or things, movement also means how your eye moves.
- Contrast - these are things that are very different from each other but are put near each other
- Scale - how big or how emphasized something is in an artwork compared to other things in the same work of art, especially things that might be close to it
- Typically, the largest or brightest things in a picture will be more emphasized and seem more important.
- Variability - how many different things, including different elements of art, are in one artwork
- Balance - this is kind of about the "feeling" of a work of art; as in, does it feel like the painting is heavier on one side than it is on the other?
- This principle is related to scale, do big things seem to "outweigh" other parts of the painting?
- Repetition - sometimes called pattern or rhythm. In visual art, this is about how something in the art repeats itself.
- What's fun about this principle is repetition can mean repeating in the same work of art, as well as repeating between different works of art looked at together. (Actually, all things in art are fun.)
- When I first look at this painting, where does my eye go first, and then where does it go second? If there are people or things in the painting, does it look like they are moving? If so, where are they going (direction-wise: to the left, down, back, etc.)?
- Is there something big put next to something small? Is there a lot of bright white next to dark black?
- What is the biggest, brightest thing in this painting? What seems to stand out the most from all the other things?
- How many different things are in this painting? Are there lots of shapes and colors, or lots of light areas and dark areas? You could even try to count how many different objects you see.
- If I were to cut the painting down the middle and put each half on a balancing scale, which way would the scale tip? Is there one side of the painting I look at more than another side?
- Are there any of the same shapes or colors repeated throughout this painting? Is there something that seems like it is not repeating at all? If you're in a museum or a gallery that has been curated, stand back and look at all the paintings or the sculptures or whatever is there and figure out what they all have in common together. If the curator is worth his/her salt, there will be some real theme among the collected works of art, whether it be "all these things have birdies" or "all these things are by this one artist" etc.
|I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold, Charles Demuth (1928)|
P.S.: The "bake some cookies" link in the body text takes you to my favorite desserts recipe blog, Chocolate-Covered Katie - she has really great healthy recipes. Also, the featured image for this post is from Sweetapolita, and those are some amazing art-themed cookies and party ideas.