Principles of design in fine art provide solid foundation for anything you pick to paint. These are actually the ethics to be followed while creating a work of art, be it acrylic, abstract, digital or surreal art.
Good or bad, artworks by all portrait artists contain most of the design elements and principles, if not all, for the reason that these are the building blocks. Elements are the visual tools employed to create a composition and include line, shape, direction, size, texture, color and tonal contrast (value). What we do to the elements of design gives the thought of designing principles that play central role in creating a dynamic effect to convey artist’s impact.
Following are the strategic principles of design.
This is the same balance you might study in Physics and in fine arts it refers to the visual interest of compositional elements. An artist must remove the feel of imbalance causing discomfort to viewers.
Give your audience the ‘right feel’ through balance that can be gained by symmetry, in which two sides are mirror images giving a very stable, permanent, and calm feel to the viewer. Or else, asymmetry that’s more common and interesting yet difficult to achieve as dissimilar elements with varied visual interests are used. For instance, a large light toned shape can be balanced by a small dark toned shape.
Suzi Nassif’s ‘Oil Spell’ is the perfect example of a balanced painting.
Contrast appears when opposite elements come in juxtaposition, for example, opposing colors on the color wheel like blue/orange and red/green. Contrast can be observed in direction-horizontal/vertical and also in light/dark tone. Herein, one element appears to be stronger in relation to the other but the major contrast in any painting must be located at the center of the interest.
Avoid too much of scattered contrast unless you are portraying the feeling of confusion of chaos (needs extra caution) as it can destroy the unity effect. Keep in mind the viewers’ attention because their eyes are drawn to contrast in the first place. Yin Yang is an example of brilliant contrast in which contrary forces are actually complementary.
Often gained through contrast, dominance contributes to a painting’s interest by counteracting the confusion or monotony. It can be applied to one or more of the elements of art to give emphasis to an area of the composition that commands the viewer’s attention.
Suzi’s Al Hamad (gratitude) is an amazing illustration of dominance.
The uniform repetition of elements of art either single or multiple, define the principle of pattern. Spirals, lattices, weaves are some of the common and classic design patterns. Zentangles is one of the most popular drawing pattern that’s actually divided into different areas but each contains a unique pattern.
However, more interesting and arresting is the repetition with variation because it eliminates the monotony.
If you want to get your artwork absorbed properly by viewers with a single glance, add the flavor of rhythm. It is usually crafted by movement implied through the recurrence of elements of art in a non-uniform yet organized way. Contrasting to pattern that demands consistency, just like musical rhythm, it also relies on variety.
It’s the sense of movement implied to produce, for instance, color gradation from warm to cool and tone from light to dark yielding aerial perspective. This principle is often used to add interest and movement to a shape so that viewer’s eye moves around and within the image.
Gradation can be created by curvy lines, by edges, by repetition and by vibrant mark-making. Movement from dark to light wonderfully causes one’s eye to travel along the shape.
Unity in paintings refers to the visual linking of different elements of art. Design elements are related to the idea being expressed in the artwork reinforces the principal of unity.
For example, rough texture, angular lines, oblique direction are normally used to portray an active aggressive subject. While in case of quiet passive subject, soft textures, light colors, less tonal contrast and horizontal lines are used.
All the elements incorporated must fit together comfortably to give the unified feel to your viewers like in Suzi’s Love & Life acrylic painting.
Take a ride of the famous artist websites and you will not only see the splashes of colors and spirit of thoughts and impressions, but also a poised flair of principles of art and design.
Arresting design isn’t about how fancy an artwork is looking but how the artist has cultivated his talent of embedding the principles of design in his work.