Art Fundamentals And Why You Need Them

In Art by Eseandre

            The world itself is art. Think about it… Look around you and what do you see? Take a walk in a park and admire the ancient, towering green trees; look up as beautiful, colorful birds paint the sky; stand on a riverbank and let the quiet, blue water calm you;then marvel at the strange, brown animals fleeting all over the place.

Everything around you is bathe in color. Almost everything birthed by nature is beautiful in one way or another, and it evokes one sort of feeling or another, and that is exactly what art is. Anything that brings to the surface certain feelings in you when you look at it can be labeled art. Something as simple as a portrait or as grand as a mountain can all qualify as subjects of art.

The most talented among us not only appreciate nature’s art, but also understand how to create something of the like. We call such people artists. They know what it takes to create pieces so beautiful it can leave you awestruck. You would be hard-pressed to look at their creations and not be impressed-or even shocked at what you see.

How do they do it? Artists are not magicians, that’s for sure. They simply know things the rest of us don’t bother to know. They understand and follow the basic ‘laws’ guiding art. These often-neglected laws can be the deciding factors between how great or otherwise an artwork ends up being.

So, what are these laws? And how many are they? What’s more, are they really that important? You will know the answers to all three questions soon enough, but we’ll begin by telling you their proper name: The fundamentals of art.

What Are Art Fundamentals?

There are particular things in this world of ours that come together to give life to everything we see around us. We call them the building blocks of life and being, but what does that have to with the fundamentals of art?

Everything, because art borrows from them. Just as the building blocks of life make up the world, art also has particular building blocks that make it up. It has elements that it can’t exist without-call them the foundation of art, because without them, there can be no art.

To put it in simpler terms, the fundamentals of art are the most basic but utterly necessary components in creating art. You need them to create anything that can qualify as a work of art, so suffice to say all aspiring artists would do well to learn and understand each and every one of them to the best of their abilities.Clearly the fundamentals of art are extremely important, and for a number of reasons.

Take for example people who wish to work in any field that involves art. We’re talking about graphic artists whose talents decorate the logos of products and multinational brands. We’re talking about makeup artists who amazingly transform people beyond recognition. We’re talking about special effects artists that push the limits of what we imagined possible.

People like this all begin with the most basic understanding of art before expanding on that knowledge and progressing on to more complex elements. These elements are many, but seven take priority over all the others: Line, form, value, texture, color, composition and anatomy.

Seven words that we’ve all heard of countless of times before, but so few of us truly understand just how significant they are and what they entail. The best artists, other than their command over creativity, are the ones who understand how to utilize one or all of these elements of art to achieve the desired end of creating a masterpiece. To join the ranks so these great men and women, you have to learn and understand what they already do about the elements and principles of art. Speaking of principles, it is imperative to point out there is a difference between them and the elements.

The Principles of Art are the medium an artist uses to organize the elements of art in any art-making. Balance, proportion, emphasis, harmony and many more encompass the principles used in art making. And anytime you see ‘design principles’ or ‘principles of organization’, they are both the same thing as principles of art, so have that at the back of your mind. And just like the fundamentals of art, the principles are also many, and they are equally important for artists to master or at least use intelligently.

The Fundamentals of Art in Detail

What sets apart the fundamentals or elements from other aspects of art is how they denote quality, not quantity. It’s not about how much you do, but how great it ends up being. The quality of the lines, of the colors, of the textures, of the shapes; many more.

As aforementioned, there are seven main elements. Though the others are by no means unimportant, they do not hold as great a significance as the primary ones listed and explained below.

  • Line

A line can be dubbed as the genesis of any work of art, and in more ways than one. Without a line, none of the other elements can follow. And without lines, all the forms, distances, patterns and movement cannot be shown.

Why is a line so important though? Its versatility is one reason, because it has an unlimited number of applications in art-making. From starting with a simple dot, infinite possibilities abound.

Imagine putting a pencil down on paper and slowly moving it around. In this process, you highlight edges and form and indicate movement. Keep moving the pencil and you can define a light source.

Lines don’t just entail a straight, curvilinear or continuous line, because a line can also be utilized for shading, be it cross-hatching or hatching. This primarily shows value in work of art, but other mediums exist where lines can be used to show and define value and more.

When it comes to uses, the most important is perhaps showing the end of the object being drawn. The proper name for this is a contour line but the commonly known name is an outline.

Having said all that, for you to truly make the most of your line art, you have to understand what is known as line quality. This just means how thin or thick a line is. It is what ultimately determines how well you are able to show forms in a drawing or painting. It’s so important that alternating between line quality can change the entire look or a work of art.

Along the same vein, you must also familiarize yourself with the numerous types of lines, because they are part and parcel of everything thus far discussed. Fortunately, these are very simple to learn and understand, but mastering them is another story.

Vertical lines move either upwards or downwards with no curves or slants while horizontal lines are parallel lines; the other variants are zig-zags and diagonal lines. Each of them can be manipulated or combined to create the artwork in infinite ways.

Perhaps most important of all is how a mere line has the power to express the energy and creativity of the artist. So many expressive qualities can be shown with lines, and the best artists know how to take advantage of this to create solid works of art from the beginning to the end.

  • Form
Art by Wei Wang

The form is another very important fundamental of art. Though there are different types of forms, it generally entails a three-dimensional object. Think of is as the physical nature of any work of art, be it an oil painting, a metal or clay sculpture, a stone or wood carving, many more.

Any work of art that has volume, width, height and length is connoted by form. Once again, this is the three-dimensional form, but it has a variant know as two-dimensional form.The two-dimensional form connotes anything that is flat, so a perfect example would be a hologram or perspective drawing.

It should be pointed out that forms-like shapes, which will be elaborated on a little later-can also be organic or geometric. The word geometric alludes to mathematics, and rightly so, because geometric forms are indeed mathematical and have names. What we mean is a cube, cylinder, sphere, cone and pyramid.

A point of note here is a circle is two-dimensional, but when it becomes three-dimensional, it’s then labeled a sphere. The same applies to a square and triangle: The former becomes a cube and the latter becomes a cone or pyramid, making them three-dimensional.

Where does one encounter such geometric forms though? The first and most obvious example are in architecture, but they are not limited to that alone. Even the spherical bubbles could be examples, and so could the planets dotting the universe too.

When it comes to organic forms, however, we refer to forms that are free-flowing, twisty, sinewy, curvy and are generally not symmetrical-or quite difficult to name. Perfect examples of them are things we see in nature, like the shapes of trees and flowers; the clouds, animals, many more.

Forms can be utilized in numerous fields of art, ranging from drawing and painting to sculpture, so you can understand and appreciate why their versatility makes then another of the more important elements of art.

  • Value
Value study by Toni Justamante Jacobs

Value is associated with color; or rather, it connotes the darkness or lightness of a color. And yet, little more than three colors are needed to appreciate and visualize value’s importance: White, black and gray. Should we give an example of what we are referring to?  A black and white photograph. When you look at it, despite the absence of bright colors, you can still easily visualize the manner in which the gray color denotes textures and planes.

How is this possible? It’s all a matter of refraction of light and illusions. Value and light go hand-in-hand. When light reflects or bounces off objects and straight to our eyes, only then can we see the said objects.This is of utmost importance because only when you grasp how important light is; only when you understand how such light reacts on surfaces, can you have command over how successful your art work can become. Illusion of light is key too, because value is used to create it. When you create any illusion of shadows and highlights, value is at play.

On a side note, the value of art can be translated to mean the cultural, aesthetic or sentimental significance of any art work. This is not something that can be gauged nor measured. How much value you see depends on the effect the art work exerts on you. The way you interpret it would probably be different from the way every other person interprets it. Simply put, it is purely subjective.

If you need examples, look no further than the impossible number of artifacts and cultural works that countries like Greece, Egypt and Peru have been seeking to have returned back to their respective nations.

These cultural items were sold centuries earlier, but because of the cultural value they have and retain, all measures are being taken to have them brought back. If you need a simpler example, how many times have you seen parents keep refrigerator art their kids make? The parents do this based solely on sentimental and emotional value of the art.

  • Texture

This is another element that is pretty basic and simple to simple to understand. The texture of the artwork is just its surface quality. In elaboration, it means how smooth or rough the surface of the artwork is-or rather the material used in making it.

Unlike value, you can see as well as feel texture. Texture can thus be experienced both physically and optically. It entails how a three-dimensional work feels when touched or felt with the hands or fingers. For two-dimensional work, however, texture connotes an illusion the artist creates of how the texture may feel.

Texture appeals to our senses in ways some of the other elements don’t. Take for instance how our sense of touch can evoke feelings of familiarity or pleasure. All this stem from texture. The best artists understand this and adapt it to their works. They use this knowledge to elicit particular and desired emotions from the people who come to see, admire and ultimately, feel their work.

Let’s take a very common example. Rocks are coarse, rough and hard. We all know that. Sometimes though, they can feel smooth, albeit still hard. So an artist who wishes to emulate what a rock feels like when held and create illusions of the said texture would do so using the other fundamentals of art, like shape, line, and color, t mention a few.

Going back to two-dimensional art, artists make use of brush strokes the most when creating an illusion of texture-print-making, painting and drawing are great examples. Although it must be pointed out that this technique, just like many aspects of art, requires great skill, because it’s not just about swiping the brush over a canvas and hoping to achieve the desired effect.

  • Color

Color is the first thing we notice whenever our eyes land on a piece of art. Color speaks to us. There is a plethora of knowledge out there that have their own ideas and theories of what color denotes. Sometimes, these works are subjective; other times, they are indeed credible.

What we’re attempting to do here is simplify what color is all about. Color sets the mood of any artwork. We experience this every day. Even the way we react to objects and how we behave can be determined by colors. They also highlight the pattern, movement, tone, form, light, and contrast of the work.

Color has three properties, and knowledge of this is crucial in art. The color wheel, color schemes, and value all play a large role in determining how art is created. The ultimate point of understanding colors is to know how to use them to highlight form, pattern, tone, contrast, movement, and light.

  • Composition
Art done by KD Stanton

Composition is little more than a term used to describe or explain how visual elements in works of art are arranged. In elaboration, composition is the manner in which elements of design and art, namely shape, color, line, value, form, texture, and space are organized based on the principles of design and art, namely emphasis, pattern, contrast, balance, rhythm, movement and structure, to show what the artist intends to do.

Learn and know the difference between the composition and subject matter of a painting. Every type of painting must have a composition. It matters not how abstract or representational it is, and neither is its subject matter significant too,

To really paint something truly unique and achieve as much success as you desire, great composition is necessary and essential. You can’t do without it. A half-hearted attempt cannot give you the results you desire. Learning how to best use composition to consolidate the beauty of your work takes time and effort, and is never an instant process.

Going back to the elements of composition, their most important function is to arrange and organize the visual components in a manner that satisfies the artist and is pleasing to the human eye. The latter may be harder to achieve due to subjectivity, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Composition generally gives a painting or work of art structure, at the same time enticing the viewer to set his eyes and go over every inch of the painting before focusing on the focal point again.

  • Anatomy
Facial Anatomy study by Toni justamante Jacobs

Few subjects have been so heavily used in art like the human body. Human anatomy has inspired artists for centuries; maybe even decades. Knowledge on human anatomy is necessary for any artist to be able to express himself with a figure. To be able to accurately represent art that focuses on the human form, acute knowledge of this is more than necessary.

Understanding human anatomy as it pertains to art means a broad knowledge of bone, bone structure and muscles. No part of the anatomy should be left untouched, with special attention given to the digits. The same applies to surface structures.

As expected, the evolution of time has also shaped the way artists of the past and present express themselves using anatomy. The artists of today now utilize complex and organic shapes that prior wasn’t seen.

Why Elements of Art Are Important and Why You Need Them

The reasons why the elements of art are important cannot be underemphasized. The most obvious of course is the fact that without even basic knowledge of the elements of art, creating art is not possible-and when we say this, we mean any and all kinds of art. You cannot hope to make anything that can be even remotely considered as art if you don’t utilize some of these elements. That much is fact.

What’s more, if you know what all the elements are and what they entail, then it should be relatively easy to talk about what any artist has done. That is to say you will know and be able to describe in detail what an artist does-or even what he’s doing long before completion.

A third reason you would do well to learn the fundamentals of art is it gives you the ability to analyze and ascertain what a particular piece or artwork is all about. You will have an idea what the artist is trying to project in the work; the message or themes he’s trying to pass across even if other onlookers.

Last but not least, elements of arts are perfect medium for any artist to communicate his thoughts using a language we can all understand. Sight and touch are teachers on their own. None of us need to be told a painting looks beautiful or feels extraordinary. That is an innate judgement the work itself brings out of us. It’s a universal language. The artist speaks it and we understand his words.

Art is great, but the elements of art are what truly turns it into something exceptional. Understand this, and you’re already halfway to being one of the all-time greats.

Art Fundamentals And Why You Need Them
Article Name
Art Fundamentals And Why You Need Them
There are 7 fundamentals or main elements in art: -Line -Form -Anatomy -Value -Texture -Color -Composition
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Improve Your Drawings
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