Formal Qualities of Art

Some possible observations in an art critique

Line

Line

  • Has weight: thin, heavy, bold, delicate, varied etc.
  • Has action: dynamic, static, restful
  • Has character: straight, curved, organic
  • It can construct, render, describe, divide, be implied
  • May imply direction or movement, define figures, measure, fill, shade etc.

Shape

Shape

  • 2D, round, rectangular, triangular, square

Form

Form

  • 3D, sphere, cone, cube, cylinder
  • Organic/geometric, man made/ from nature
  • Basic forms in nature: hexagon, spiral, helix, branching, meandering
  • Dimension/scale, large/small, close/distant,
  • Weight: heavy, light, mass/volume
  • Character: solid/fluid/hollow, simple/complex, delicate/bold, composite/modular, random/programmed, symmetrical/asymmetrical, convex/concave, representational/abstract/symbolic/decorative, nonobjective, distorted, elaborate/efficient
  • Action: static, dynamic, rigid

Edges

Edges

  • Hard, soft, lost, crisp, fuzzy
  • Defined by lines, form, value, light, surface

Surface/Texture

Surface/Texture

  • Smooth/rough, soft/hard, liquid/solid
  • Visual Phenomena
  • Transparent/Opaque/Translucent
  • Veil/Film/False film
  • Reflective/Dull
  • Does a range exist?
  • Is surface important to piece?

Space/Perspective

Space/Perspective

Flat Space elements, 2 dimensional space

  • Space division, where & how is it divided?
  • Vertical, horizontal, curved
  • Balance, center of interest,
  • Figure/ground relationships, surfaces,
  • Unity & variety
  • Created tension, primary point, position
  • One focus attracts attention
  • Two focal areas create tension
  • Three foci create closed form between them

3 dimensional space

  • Includes flat space elements
  • Illusion of depth/distance enhanced by:
    Light & shade
    Linear perspective: 1, 2 or 3 point perspective
    Aerial perspective/atmosphere, volume color
    Overlapping: closer form hides part of distant form
    Size: closer objects are larger
    Position on page: lower appear closer
    Distinct edges become more diffuse in distance
    Weight of line heavier in foreground
    Foreground, mid-ground, background evident
    Value contrast & chroma are higher in foreground
    Shallow focus, deep focus

Plane versus recessional composition

  • Plane has horizontal lines, as if on a stage
    Blocks or holds back the viewer
  • Recessional has diagonal tension
    2 point perspective at least
    Movement into 3D space required
    Invites the viewer into the space

Movement in space

  • In & out of shapes/areas/form/color/value/lost edge
  • Up/down/across/zigzag/radiate

Color

Color

  • Primaries, secondary, tertiary, complements
  • Hue, saturation, gradation, value
  • Tints, Tones, Shades
  • Warm/cool/temperature
  • Range, Key, Intensity, Chroma
  • Visual Phenomena/Color interaction
    Halation, Vanishing Boundaries, Luminosity
    Relative hue, Color deception
    Local color, color constancy
    Complements, vibrating boundaries
  • Unity, predictability, design, balance, focus,
  • Unique color combinations

Value

Value

  • Range, key, distribution, focus
  • Visual Phenomena
  • Relative Value
  • Reverse gradations

Light and Shadow

Light and Shadow

  • Light & shadow must treat all things equally, that is how it creates unity in a composition.
  • Light & Shadow must be consistent in the following:
    Source: nothing can be lighter than the light source
    Position/direction must be established and held to.
    Intensity must be consistent.
    Color must be consistent.
  • Visual Phenomena and illusion
    White light and shadow
    Colored light and colored shadow
  • Functions
    Aesthetics, unification, integration, relates, constancy
    Illumination, focus attention, definition, modification
    Form, value & color are observed only in the presence of light.
    Light defines form & dictates value and color.