For some of us “geniuses,” art is any form of visual representation of beauty or something that gives an aesthetic result. That is just one side of the true story. Art comprises so much more. From fine arts to performing arts to applied arts and so on, art may not even have an absolute definition. Even music is considered art.
Not to stray any further, let us focus on our imperfect conception of art – the Visual arts. What does it mean? What does it involve? And what are its characteristics? This article gives us a clearer understanding and appreciation of visual arts.
What is Visual Art?
From how most people will define art (as visual satiation), they are basically defining visual art. Any art form that pleasure is expected to be derived through the use of eyesight is considered visual art. From this definition, visual art includes art forms like painting, drawing, sculpture, design, architecture, etc.
All the forms listed are summed up in just one branch of visual art called fine art. Visual arts, for a long time, involved just fine arts. But other art disciplines such as contemporary arts, applied arts, decorative arts, textile arts, also involve aspects of visual arts, as well as other art types. The reason being that, they all have a visual appreciation for it.
Visual Arts Characteristics
What makes up Visual arts? What elements must be included to make an artwork visually pleasant? There are generally five elements of visual art – Line, Shape, Space, Color, and Texture. These characters are what must be included, or better put, together or in part makes up visual arts.
This is the similitude of “every journey begins with one step.” Every drawing, and most (if not all) visual arts, starts and is achieved from a line. This is an artist’s first tool and resource used to express his feelings and ideas. This point can be pushed even further to boldly state that artists are distinguished by the strokes (lines) they express, as it can be compared to an individual’s handwriting.
Lines give room for other elements and are considered the most important. After all, it must be passed through to achieve all other characteristics, so why not? Shapes are gotten from lines, so is space identified through lines. Color and texture follow the print lines leave behind – all reasons showing the importance of lines as a basic characteristic of Visual arts.
What simple way can this be put? Well, lines do not remain lines forever. They join together or elongate to create a shape. Change is bound to happen, as even lines are products of dots connected together.
Every expression is trying to signify a shape or a form of something. Shapes are generally two-dimensional, while forms are three-dimensional. Forms are even sometimes given a separate characterization of being another element of Visual arts, but in every sense, it is just an extension of shape.
From this, it is clear that form is much more used in other Visual art components like Sculpture and Architecture, than in paintings. The ability to visually interpret an art form through the shape, or form it portrays is an important part of every Visual art.
Matter is defined as “anything that has weight and occupies space.” The same applies to art as well. It expresses the main topic inside or within another context. That context is what is regarded as space.
They are two sides to space by the way. The more universal side is in the sense that everything is surrounded by another thing – a space. A sculpture, a building, a framed painting, all have an area, or space it’s being placed that surrounds it.
A more specific side to space is within each art form itself. What comes to mind is in paintings where an object, a human, animal, or anything, is painted within another background. An example is the famous Starry Night over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh, where a couple is holding hands under the beautiful starry night. Everything else other than the couple is regarded as the space in the painting.
A single-handed way to express love, calmness, warmth, and endless emotions are through colors. Although colors are just light reflections of objects to the eyes, the effect so much more than color is defined. Not only in color paintings, but in other types as well, if any element of visual arts is to contest the throne with the line, it would definitely be color.
Look at these scenarios… A painting of a beautiful bright-colored blue and yellow butterfly in a garden of red tulips sucking nectar from one of the flowers. Contrast that with a painting of a brown butterfly in a dark dull night, just flying about.
Which of these is visually appealing, or directly tells a story from the artist to the viewer? That is how important the role color plays in visual arts.
Who says texture can only be felt? Art has broken that rule clearly. From a painting view, texture can be felt and embraced just by looking at it. This is done by translating the feel or affect the surface of an object has on us through vision.
It can also be felt by the brush strokes artists use to represent their paintings. How these strokes affect objects and surfaces in the painting is an important factor in it.
How do you feel about visual arts now? In the next painting you purchase, or view, try looking out for these characteristics listed in this article and understand the quality and quantity used by the artists.