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fichner_ua8_ch02 Visual arts

fichner_ua8_ch02 Visual arts - 02-W3429 8:18 AM Page 24...

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02-W3429 12/6/05 8:18 AM Page 24
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VISUAL ELEMENTS OF ART 2 I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say in any other way—things I had no words for. —Georgia O’Keeffe C olor and shape are but two of the visual elements of art. The language of art is the very language of our visual and tactile experiences in the world, and the words or vocabulary of this language consist of the visual elements of line, shape, light, value, color, texture, space, time, and motion. Line can define shape; light can reveal it. Color can describe the world around us and reveal the worlds within us; we are blue with sorrow, red with rage. Texture is linked with all the emotion of touching, with the cold sharpness of rock or the warm, yielding sen- sations of flesh. We exist in space; we occupy space and space envelops us. Time allows us to develop into what we are capable of being; time ultimately takes from us what we have been. We are all in motion through space, in a solar system that is traversing the rim of our galaxy at thousands of miles per second, or rotating on the surface of our own globe at a thousand miles per hour. Yet it is the smaller Copyright by the artists, New City, New York. 02-W3429 12/6/05 8:18 AM Page 25
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motion—the motion of lifting an arm or of riding through a field—that we are more likely to sense and hence to repre- sent in art. This vocabulary— line, shape, light, value, color, texture, space, time, and motion —makes up what we call the visual elements or plastic elements of art. Artists select from a va- riety of media, including, but by no means limited to, draw- ing, painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, textiles, and ceramics. They then employ the visual elements of art to express themselves in the chosen medium. In their self- expression, they use these elements to design compositions of a certain style, form, and content. Visual elements, design, style, form, and content— these make up the language of art. A language is a means of communicating thoughts and feelings. In spoken and writ- ten languages we communicate by means of sounds and symbols; in the visual arts we communicate through the vi- sual media we find in this book—although by the time this book is in print, there may well be new ones. Languages such as English and French have symbols— words—that are combined according to rules of grammar to create a message. The visual arts have a “vocabulary” of vi- sual elements that are combined according to the “gram- mar” of art, or principles of design. These principles include unity, balance, rhythm, scale, and proportion, among oth- ers. The composition of the elements creates the style, form, and content of the work—even if this content is an abstract image and not a natural subject such as a human figure or a landscape.
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