There are seven elements of art. Seven beautiful revelations.
Line: a mark made on the surface.
shape: something made with lines, geometric or organic in nature. (notice the shape of the strokes made, as well)
Space: The way artist has used and placed the subject in the space on the canvas. Observe the positive (space occupied by the subject) and negative space (space outside the subject’s placement).
Value: The darkness, and the lightness of the colors. The varying degrees of colors used in the painting/art.
Form: 3 dimensional objects/subjects.
Texture: The surface quality of an object or paint.
And Color. Color is emotion.
Before I knew these elements, I had a very limited and almost like an outsider’s position or view of the paintings. It was as if my eye could see the art, and admire it, but had no way to really look inside the painting and understand its math. Ever looked at E = mc2 with admiration but still wondered what sorcery lies behind the equation? Or what does E mean to begin with? It is not the message, but the technique that you must grab. It is like that for the art world. You need to mentally dissect it to fully appreciate it.
I want you all to take a minute, and look at these famous paintings again. Only this time, with the knowledge about the elements that made these beauties come into being. It makes a huge difference, in your appreciation and understanding of the artwork and the art experience above all. You will also notice, which artist has taken up which element to play up in his paintings in order to develop a unique style of their own.
I promise you, after studying these elements, the way you look at any painting will dramatically change. As now you will be able to analyze it.
Give it a try. Have fun.
The Starry Night, oil on canvas by Vincent van Gogh. 1889.
The Scream by Edvard Munch. 1893.
Girl with a Pearl Earring, an oil painting by 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. 1665.
Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton. Oil on canvas. 1895.
The Persistence of Memory (1931) by Salvador Dalí.
Water Lilies by Claude Monet. 1916.
Observe Picasso’s work if you wish. You will see a different world within a world. And Leonardo’s masterpieces.