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Lesson Plans

Re:Art Elements

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Robert Alexander Fromme (rfromme)
Wed, 13 Oct 1999 22:17:52 -0500

Ok, I guess this is what one gets when she/he responds to a request for help
on the list these days. Anyway, old Bob will try to respond to the
confusion. However, I should mention that I taught adjunct college classes
in ceramics, drawing, design and art appreciation, off and on for some 20 +
years and we went through several texts by a variety of authors over that
time span.
The list of Elements I posted in response to the request were those accepted
elements which had been listed by the authors.

For example, the third printing (1068) of "Art Fundamentals Theory and
Practice" by Ocvirk, Bone, Stinson and Wig listed the following elements of
form: lines, shapes, values, textures, and colors. I should mention that
the text placed the distinction between the elements and principles of form
and the concerns of content or meaning in a work. Then also removed the
concept of subject matter from both form and content in their treatment.

Now, by the 4th edition (1989) of "Artforms" by Duane and Sarah Preble
listed the following formal elements: Point and line, shape, mass, space,
time and motion, light, color and texture. Now, at vkt's request, I
should explain why these elements are include.

At 07:17 PM 10/13/99 EDT, vkt wrote:
>O.K. I'm game. Where did the mass, light, time and movement come from?

Easy answer: Duane and Sarah Preble

Not so easy answer:
If a two-dimensional area is referred to as a shape, then a
three-dimensional area is a mass - the physical bulk of as solid body of
material. In sculpture, mass is real, in a painting or photograph, it is
simulated. Mass is inseparable from space because 3 D objects always relate
to sthe space they occupy. Now, we use a term like "volume" to name the 3D
enclosed quantity which is either void or solid. The word can be used in
some instances interchangeably with space and with mass. Please keep in
mind that an art work which uses living human body, an object or a
sculpture all involve mass or masses placed in 3D space. This is the world
of closed form, of open form, and the dynamic interactive relationship
between mass and space.

>Movement was always part of the Principles of art the way I was taught.

Well, yes and no. In our world a lot has changed. In the time of Sasetta
(1444) Time was probably thought of a a nonspatial continuum in which events
occurred in succession, but in Asian cultures, the experience of time is
cyclic (seasons, birth, death, rebirth, etc). There is a wonderful old work
by Sassetta called "Meeting of Saint Anthony and Saint Paul": in which you
see several snipits of the story all presented in linear progression along
a trail. suggesting the movement and activity of the story unfolding through
the passage of time. Later, we would have the photography of Eadweard
Muybridge, Harold Edgerton, Thomas Eakins, photos and sculpture of Marcel
Duchamp (bicycle wheel on a stool) , the paintings of futurist Giacomo
Balla and the mobiles of Alexander Calder or the motorized styrofoam
sculptures of Robert Breer. The list could go on and on. IS Mummenschanz
visual art or dance or both? . Time and motion were critical elements in
the work of each of these men. Then, consider all the earthworks which
involve wind, lightning, water, performance art, etc. etc. Time and motion
are critical aspects in the formal development of all these works.

> What
>is "light" in elements? an "Time"? Why Mass? is mass the same as form?

Now with light we have the realization that traditional reflected color does
not exist without it. Architecture has a long history of involvement with
the element of light. Yet we can not forget the additive color from light
used in cinema, Video television, multimedia, computer images and specific
works which use real lights such as Antonakos "Walk on Neon" or "Lumia Suite
OP. 158" by Thomas Wilfred

>Wow, talk about difference in theories!!!! Goes to show that there ARE NO
>ABSOLUTES. Looks like line is about the only constant, along with color and

At 05:49 PM 10/13/99 -0400, you wrote:
>Atmospheric perspective or aerial perspective as it is also called:
>Color gets lighter and less intense in the background of a painting.
>Form and values of colors become blurrier.............. fading out. It's
>a method for creating the illusion of 3 -D form (realism) on a 2-D
>surface. Hope this helps.

I did not ask about atmospheric perspecive. I was responding to an earlier
question concerning the elements of design. I listed atmospheric
perspective as one of the spatial devices used in the creation of an
illusion of space. Space, being one of the elements of design. Perhaps I
shouldl have mentioned that the device of atmospheric or aerial perspective
builds upon the presence of water vapor, dust and impurities in the
atmosphere which cause a loss of intensity and a loss of detail in distant

At 10:27 AM 10/13/99 -0500, Betty Bowen wrote:
>No, there isn't a cross-cultural agreed upon list of the elements of art.
>These lists refer only to the convenient categorizing of some of the formal
>concerns of traditional 2D and 3D art, and while useful in describing art
>objects, I don't believe they are all that useful any more (if they ever
>were) in learning to make art itself. The elements of line are generally
>limited to the types of lines with examples that lend themselves to
>reproductions in how-to books. There is no discussion of meaning, content,
>emotion, response, metaphor, or even opacity, transparency, reflective or
>refractive natures - or the elements necessary for successful conceptual,
>performance or installation work. If we have to be tied down with such
>verbal lists, they need updated.

Whhhooooooooo, Betty

Are you an art teacher? Where did you go to school? Did you have
foundational classes? Did you learn to make the connection between your
foundational classes in traditional drawing, painting, sculpture, art
appreciation, design etc. and the same formal elements used in your more
contemporary art activity? Do you not live in a three dimensional form.
Do you not cast a shadow when you are bathed in light? Do your objects do
the same? Do your wear color? Do your objects? Do you move from one point
to another. Does your work involve the passage of time and the movement
through space?

>There is no discussion of meaning, content,
>emotion, response, metaphor, or even opacity, transparency, reflective or
>refractive natures - or the elements necessary for successful conceptual,
>performance or installation work.

You seem to have a soup concocted from issues of both form and content
mixed together in order to present an elusive and vague position of
authority in your post. As near as I can understand you, concerns of
emotion, response and metaphor are related to potential content or meaning
.... while opacity, transparency, reflective or refractive natures are
related to the formal concerns of elements including mass, space, color,
light, texture and movement. If you look closely, you may discover that
your creations are born of the same formal elements of traditional art
making even if the work seems unique or new. The elements involve our
living perceptions and the manipulation of the physical world. They are
the concerns of forming, organization, or ordering (including choices to
avoid a conscious attempt to order). When one seeks to communicate the
method of delivery takes on a form and the elements are part of the process
of organizing that expression. If not, please give us a new list of
specific formal elements which are used to convey the content or meaning in
the work you create or give us some idea of your work so we can figure out
how your can create content or meaning with out a form or organization to
the delivery or presentation of that content.

My 2 cents,