A Critical Overview of Visual Elements for Artistic Creation

Elements of design are the basic units of a work of art like painting, drawing or any other visual piece. They are the ingredients used in the creation of any artistic piece. The elements of design used in art include dot, line, shape, plane, colour, space, texture, weight, and value. They are line, form, shape, colour, space and texture. The artist puts the visual elements together to make a statement in art the same way we put words together to form a sentence. Every artist must know and understand them.

Line: It is the product of a moving point of a marking tool such as a pencil creates a path of connected dots on a paper. This path of connected dots or mark left by a moving point is referred to as a line. Line is defined as the path of a dot through space. This indicates that it takes movement to create a line. Examples of lines in the natural and manmade environment include leaves and branches of trees, rivers, the contours of a bird, outlines of electrical gadgets like Television set, speakers, computers etc. A skilled artist uses lines to control the movement of the viewer’s eyes. Lines lead the eye of the viewer into, around and out of visual images in an artwork.

Dot: It is a small round spot. It is usually created from the nibs of writing tools such as pencil, pen, crayon, etc. Pebbles, fruits, human heads are examples of dots in nature.

Shape: A shape is defined as an enclosed area. It is an area that stands out from the space next to or around it due to a defined or implied boundary. This area is clearly set off by one or more of the other five visual elements of art. It is the artist’s unique way of representing ideas in two dimensions. Shapes are flat. They are limited to only two dimensions: length and width. A shape may have an outline or boundary around it. Examples of shapes in the natural and manmade environment include shapes of human head, stones, fruits, rectangles, squares, circles etc.

Form: It is an object with three dimensions thus length, width (breadth) and depth (height). It is the shape of volume or mass. Forms can be grouped into two namely geometric forms and organic forms. Geometric forms include tables, pots, statues etc. while examples of organic forms are stones, trees etc. The only difference between form and shape is that shapes do not have depths but forms do.

Space: It is considered as a boundless area. It is the distance between, around, above, below and within shapes and masses. It is a measurable distance between pre-established points. A void or vacuum in which other elements are actualized or seen is space. Spaces can be seen in both two and three dimensional forms. There are two kinds of space thus positive space which is the space occupied by the objects in a picture and negative space that is the space around objects in a composition or picture.

Texture: This is the surface character or quality of materials. It refers to how things feel or look as though they might feel if touched. This may be smooth, rough, coarse, hard or soft. Texture can be experienced particularly through two of our senses thus the sense of sight and the sense of touch. However, texture can be perceived in the mind. Texture comes in four basic forms: actual, simulated, abstract and invented.

Mass: It is the implied or actual bulk, weight, size or magnitude of an object. In a two dimensional drawing or painting, mass refers to a large area or form of one colour.

Colour: It plays a major role in the elements of design. It is the reflection of white light on an object or sensations created on the eye by rays of decomposed light. Colour may vary in degrees of dullness or brightness and lightness or darkness. All natural and manmade objects that surround us have colours. Tomatoes, flowers, plants, cars, clothes etc display varieties of colours.

Value: This is the degree of lightness or darkness existing in colour. Value is determined by the amount of light reflected by a surface. Value is also referred to as tone.

These elements of artistic creation have their own distinctive features that must be known by artists especially amateurs in the art profession so that they can mature into creative giants in the art industry.

Visual Arts-As Old as Civilization

For as long as man has been alive, he has observed the aesthetics and beauty of life. It seems that it is innate in us to create and change and this has been demonstrated throughout the ages. Even the cave man recreated his vision and told a story via stonewalls.

All art is a communication! The artist is creating his/her vision via any artistic outlet such as drawing, painting, sculptures, photography, graphic design or filmmaking etc.

It’s any art we see! The natural landscape is a powerful tool artists have used throughout time. We seem to want to recreate what we are looking at and at the same time change it to put our own nuances and character into it.

Art is not limited to drawing, painting, sculptures etc. There are the living visual arts such as the painstaking shaping of the Bonsai tree or creating the next beautiful hybrid rose. We started with the incredibly gorgeous vintage rose and now we literally have hundreds of different kinds of roses in various sizes, colors and fragrance.

Dancing, figure skating, gymnastics, ballet, and even acting are also considered visual art forms.

You are basically taking something that has been done before, or a piece of life, and are making it new by changing or adding your own character to the piece. That’s all imagination is!

Just in the 20th century alone we have created new forms of art such as art nouveau, pop art, ethnic art to name a few. The subject of art is so vast that there is literally no ceiling to creativity and that is what makes this subject so incredibly interesting.

For as long as man exists, we will find a way to create new and interesting things to look at. It is after all in our nature to do so!