Element and Principles of Design...Contrast

I'm thrilled to share with you my favourite design principle, contrast, today in our Elements and Principles of Design series.

Go ahead and paint me with the geek-brush, but absolutely I have a favourite art and design principle and it is contrast without a doubt!

Why do I love contrast so much? Well, it is defined as using elements of art and design to conflict with one another.

Picture....oil and water. The two don't mix, but when you shake them up in a jar they create a brand new composition. Let them settle, and they are changed all over again.

It's the evolution of change behind the conflict and contrast that I love so much.

Take this piece, for example.

There are so many elements used in this piece of wearable art.

First, there is contrast in the tones that are used. The white conflicts with the black, and the purple conflicts with both of those tones as it is out of the realm of monochromatic.

Next, the line conflicts with the round shape of the actual piece.

Lastly, the space within the piece is conflicted by the placement of the paint.

Contrast makes for an interesting, unique and dynamic piece of work! See why I love it!?


Elements and Principles of Design...Balance

Balance can take on many different interpretations in visual art.

As the fifth art principle, balance means how the artist weighs their piece of work. Is it asymmetrical {balance all on one side, top or bottom of the piece}, symmetric or radial?

How would you say these pieces are balanced?

And what about this sculpted piece?

I tend to create more asymmetrical pieces than anything else. I really like having most of the weight in a painting on the top or bottom, one side or the other. I find that it creates a beginning, middle and end in a more harmonious way than typical symmetry.

What kind of balance do you like to see in a piece of art?


Principals and Elements of Design...Variety

Time for your monthly dose of art education here on Sweet Stella's! This month, we are talking about the art principle variety.

Defined as....Variety is the quality or state of having different forms or types, notable use of contrast, emphasis, difference in size and color. source 

And visually explained very easily in miniature pieces of art! The use of contrast, and the variations in the actual physical size of the canvases aid in giving the pieces variety.

While fairly monochromatic, this piece does a great job of showing variety. There is contrast in tone and the scale of the piece, as well as movement and variety in line.

I love how this piece embraces variety. There are five different southwest inspired colours in this painting, all of which flow together to create unity and harmony. Line and movement is important in this piece. When these five elements are used in one piece, variety is achieved!

How would you explain the design principle variety?


Elements and Principles of Art, Harmony

The principle of harmony is probably one of the harder ones to explain in writing. In its very rudimentary explanation, it means how uncomplicated a piece of work is.

Harmony is achieved in a body of work by using similar elements throughout the work, harmony gives an uncomplicated look to a piece of artwork or sculpture. Source

A cohesive design is something that all artists strive for. There is always a method to the madness, even in abstract art, and it is truly remarkable to see a finished piece achieve the element of harmony.


It doesn't always happen, but look at how magical it is when it does! Line, shape, form, contrast and color some together in both of these pieces to create a harmonious design!

How would you best describe a piece that has achieved harmony?


Elements and Principles of Design, Unity

How does a dynamic piece of artwork make all of the elements and principles come together in one sinuous design?

Achieving unity within a piece means that all of the components that went into its creation come together in a very seamless way; as if there were destined to grace that particular canvas together and create something truly magical.

Unity is classically defined as....Unity is the concept behind the artwork. An analogy would be the way in which a conductor directs a wide variety of instruments in an orchestra to produce a symphony that is recognized as a single comprehensible piece.[3] Unity is how well different parts of an artwork build on each other. source 

How does it translate on a canvas?

These paintings are four of my absolute favourites. To me, the embody the element of unity very well because they use line, shape, form, contrast, colour and movement to create sinuous design. Each one is unique from the next, and cannot be duplicated {not even by me!}

What do you think? Are the unified compositions? What elements would you add to make them more unified?


Art Painting Techniques

One of my favourite art painting techniques is dry brushing. There is something about softening the lines in a painting, sort of like adding a faux finish to your interior paint, that finishes off a piece of art in a really lovely way.

So, how to you apply with art painting technique?

 First, start with blending the colours of your painting, or on your wall with interior paint, and allow to dry to the point where they are still tacky to the touch.

What you will end up with is a heavily textured painting. It would make an amazing focal wall, and depending on the colours that you use to apply this art painting technique, can create alot of depth in a piece or room.

Try it out, and post a link in the comments with how you've added this art technique into your home decor!


Elements and Principles of Art...Line

Line is one of the more easily explained Elements of Art. It has a true form, a starting and ending point. There is little to no confusion about where a line begins, and where it ends...the space that it creates between two points.

Technically defined as {source: Wikipedia}

Line is defined as a mark that spans a distance between two points (or the path of a moving point), taking any form along the way. As an art element, line pertains to the use of various marks, outlines and implied lines in artwork and design, most often used to define shape in two-dimensional work. Implied line is the path that the viewer's eye takes as it follows shapes, colors, and form along a path, but may not be continuous or physically connected, such as the line created by a dancer's arms, torso, and legs when performing an arabesque. Line is an element of art that is simplest, most ancient, and most universal means for creating visual arts.

How does line translate in my work?

I love playing with paint lines on my sculpted works. A line can star on one side, stop suddenly in the middle, but connect with another colour or tone to tie the entire piece together. It creates cavities of space within the bounds of one piece.

My lines aren't perfect...but they are simple, and they are strong.

Shading with Complimentary Colours

Did you know that the most effective way to shade {darken} a colour is to add in its compliment?

Orange with Blue
Yellow with Purple
Green with Red

A few years back, I was at the hardware store with my mother-in-law. She was wanting to paint her front door a lovely brick red, but the shade just wasn't coming out deep enough. I suggested to the colour expert to add just a tiny touch of green and it would deepen the colour.

Both my mother-in-law and the colour expert were shocked....it worked!

Here's how to do it!

Mix equal parts of paint to create your complimentary shade {I chose orange and green, to shade blue and red, respectively}

Add just a tiny bit to your primary colour to shade it, gradually adding more and more until you are happy with the end result.

Voila! A deeper shade of blue...red...whatever you choose!

Have colour mixing questions? Leave me a comment and I'll do my best to answer it!

A New Kind of Blogging

I've mentioned that there are going to be some changes in the blogging platform this year. One of those changes is that every month, I'm going to be taking you through a new room in the home and how you can overhaul it with a few simple projects and design techniques.

I'm really excited about this New Year, New Home feature and cannot wait to take you through the projects.

What will I be taking on next month? The kitchen.

wooden Eat sign by Dime Store Vintage on Etsy

We all have it...the dreaded and cluttered cutlery drawer. The unorganized mass of plastic containers and lids. It can be a really daunting task to get it all organized, and make it look pretty, but never fear...that's what I'm here for!

Do you have things that you want to learn how to do? Items that you admire, but think you could make...just aren't sure how? Let me know in the comments and maybe I'll tackle your project!


Elements and Principals of Design....Value

As an art student, one of the most difficult elements of art and design to master is value. No, not how to price your art work accordingly, but the value of colour.

Technically defined....

Value, or tone, refers to the use of light and dark, shade and highlight, in an artwork. Some people also refer the lightness and darkness in an artwork as tints(light) and shades(dark). Black-and-white photography depends entirely on value to define its subjects. Value is directly related to contrast. Value is the relative degree of lightness in the graphic work of art or painting. Wikipedia

Teminology that you might be more familiar with is monochromatic.

Tinting with white, and shading with a complimentary color {you thought I was going to say black...didn't you?? A tutorial for another day!} is very important to an artist. It changes the depth, contrast and form of a painting and can take a piece from being flat to being amazing.

Visually speaking...

This cream and navy miniture diptych explains value very well. The two tones blend well in areas to create different grades of navy, while the are used in their true tones in other areas to provide the lightest tints and darkest shades.

To not blend the two colors together would make for a very flat painting. Here, there are pockets on the right that seem to fade into the background, whereas on the left the dark shades jump right into the foreground.

While difficult to explain in writing yet easy to show on a canvas, value is one of the most important elements of art and design, as it creates depth, and defines background, middle ground and foreground in a piece of art.


Elements and Principals of Art: Space

The Verve once wrote in a song that there is no space and time, that we have existence and that's all we share.

In the terms of art, the element of space is probably one of the most important things that makes a piece complete. It is the space within the time...the space in which the piece exists.

The physical footprint of the painting above is 20"x16"...or 320 square inches. The paint exists within the bounds of the stretcher bars but there is space created within that aid in making this piece complete.

Follow the yellow arrows. Do you see all of the little pockets of space created within this piece?

Space can do wonderful things within a painting, especially with abstract work. While you may think that the drips and paint is just thrown haphazardly on a canvas, there is a method to the madness. That method is to create space.

Principals and Elements of Art: Texture

A new monthly series here at Sweet Stella's - Principals and Elements of Art.

What can you expect? Well, I'll take these design principals {aka rules} and, using some pieces of my art, hopefully teach you about what goes into creating a balanced composition.

In a few weeks, there will even be a hand out of sorts!

First up is Texture

Technically defined as: The texture is the quality of a surface or the way any work of art is represented. Lines and shading can be used to create different textures as well. For example, if one is portraying certain fabrics, one needs to give the feeling of the right texture so that it closely resembles what the artist is trying to convey. It can be implied or real. What you can feel with your sense of touch. Texture is the surface treatment of an artistic work in order to give variety and beauty to any work of art. {wikipedia}

So, how do I use texture in my paintings? Well, I use both real and implied texture.

Real Texture using plaster on wood, further enhanced with acrylic paint

Implied texture using various levels of dry brushing, and cross hatching

It's a sense of touch, but one that you can visually see with your eyes. It's an element of art that I take very seriously with my paintings as it gives so much depth to a piece.