Elements of Art in Abstract Photographic Artwork

The elements of art are sort of like atoms in that both serve as “building blocks” for creating something. You know that atoms combine and form other things, right? Sometimes they’ll casually make a simple molecule, as when hydrogen and oxygen form water (H2O). If hydrogen and oxygen take a more aggressive career path and bring carbon along as a co-worker, together they might form something more complex, like a molecule of sucrose (C12H22O11).


A similar activity happens when the elements of art are combined. Instead of elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, in art you have these building blocks:

  • line
  • shape
  • form
  • space
  • texture
  • value
  • color

Artists manipulate these seven elements, mix them in with principles of design, and compose a piece of art. Not every work of art contains every one of these elements, but at least two are always present.
For example, a sculptor, by default, has to have both form and space in a sculpture, because these elements are three-dimensional. They can also be made to appear in two-dimensional works through the use of perspective and shading.
Art would be sunk without line, sometimes known as “a moving point.” While line isn’t something found in nature, it is absolutely essential as a concept to depicting objects and symbols, and defining shapes.
Texture is another element, like form or space, that can be real (run your fingers over an Oriental rug, or hold an unglazed pot), created (think of van Gogh’s lumpy, impasto-ed canvases) or implied (through clever use of shading).
Now, I will try not to leap up and down and pinwheel my arms in large, excited arcs over color, but, really — it’s often the whole point for us visual types. Show me a red spectrum, regardless of value (lightness or darkness), and my brain yells “Hallelujah!” Then, of course, there are all of those lovely, soothing blues…
oh! And green — he color of nature and the renewal of life. There have got to be at least 84,000 tints and tones of green. And, yellow! My goodness, I do love a sunny yellow. Not a sickly-looking “Whoa! Hey, you should get your liver function tested, buddy” shade of yellow, mind you, but…what? Sorry. What was the other part of the question?

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