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Thursday, January 26

My summary of the Elements of Art and Principles of Design

Speaking; Principles of Design

The gift of art and the talent of an artist is creating something that speaks to the observer without words. As an artist the principles of design are like the alphabet in creating what might speak to you. Principles like: movement, contrast, balance, and harmony are just a few common and noticeable practices. Like letters, the use of one, or a combination of many, can create words; it is the same with the principles of design; the artists can use many or just one to compose a piece.

For as long as I can remember, I, like many others, have been drawn to Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The contrast of the moon and stars against the darkness of night, the rhythm of the light that radiates from them and the movement by which the light spreads over a small dark town has always captivated me. The balance of light in the sky far away compared to the town close and dark, is a lot like life, even in the darkest of times the stars still shine. This juxtaposition of light and dark creates a sense of harmony, because although they are different, they coexist.

    Nature, like life, is both hot and cold, light and dark, giving and taking. Art imitates life, or so they say, and in Hokusai’s, The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, the life of nature speaks much like Starry Night; with the movement of nature around life. The contrast however is not a juxtaposing of color, but rather size and proportion. Hokusai uses blues on the ocean, mountain, and people, to show their connection in nature and life. The color blue covers the image from the forefront to the background, where you see a snowcapped mountain in the distance; this is all in proportion to the people, who are braving the waves. The movement of the ocean, peaks into large white capped waves, and your eyes are pulled to the orange boats holding the small groups of people; huddled together, all wearing blue. The orange color of the boats in the center of the piece gives them emphasis against all the blues of nature; and it’s power. However, the people are colored like the powers of nature, powerful blue waves, huge blue mountain, small powerful people dressed in blue.

Both artists are skilled with movement and proportion between nature and human life. The movement in both pieces of art, from the stars to the waves, flows very naturally, but the rhythm that radiates from the stars through the sky of Starry Night will always win me over. There is a sense of harmony and peace in Starry Night, that is covered with fear and anxiety in comparison to The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. Don’t get me wrong there is a lot to be said about the displays of power, and grit that the people must have in the boats, but we don’t know what happened after the wave crashed. That said, I also don’t know what’s going on in the town below Starry Night, but there is a sense of tranquility that pulses with the glow of the moon and it leads me to believe, it’s filled with restful dreams. 

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