Figure and Ground
Figure and ground can be looked at in different ways. Some see it best in negative space, others see it in the positive space. Where do you focus? Sometimes your eye is drawn to a specific area of a photo or painting. This is typically the figure and seems to be easier to focus on. However, the ground can also be just as spectacular and it often becomes difficult to tell the difference between what is considered figure and ground in a piece of art. Artist often play between the stark difference and the overlapping similarities to keep the viewer interested.
Frame and Surface
How a picture is framed will decide where the artist wants you to focus your eye. Moving your camera lens a bit to the left or right can change the way the photo is framed and therefore the entire feeling of the end product. In nature, you will find a mathematical "Golden Spiral" that draws the eye to the center and it follows the curve around. To find the Fibonacci spiral ( or golden spiral) in plants, fruits and vegetables and shells to name a few are inspiring. I always marvel at the way this phenomenon naturally occurs. Surface can be physically how a piece is put together. Is the artist using wood, or canvas? Paper or steel? Surface can also be created in the digital world. Sometimes, an artist can create a surface so realistic with a computer, it can trick the eye.
Mark and Line
The concept of marks and lines is as basic as it gets when it comes to art. Every movement that is made when creating consists of a mark or line to some extent. Is the line deliberate and tidy or is it random and fluid? Is the mark soft and delicate or hard and chaotic? Artists use different techniques and tools to create a feeling of movement, emotion, or perhaps an abstract. While I enjoy very much the concept I tend to have a difficult time feeling the emotion in abstract works, however, I love the abstracts that come from action paintings. Whether scratching, dripping, smudging or simply throwing your hands literally into your work, marks and lines are the basic makeup of all pieces.
Pattern is a repeating consistent shape, color, line or a combination of these elements. It can be used as decoration as you see in everyday objects around your home or office. We frequently choose patterns that we enjoy for simple things like linen, carpet, dishes, and clothing. Artist use pattern for cohesion and harmony. A pattern can be balanced or asymmetrical. Celtic knots are typically a pattern that leads into itself create a never-ending pattern. Patterns can be symbolic in different cultures representing religion, family surnames, and even historical stories.
Real texture is something you can feel and touch, very tactile. Some use thick layers of paint to create a texture that becomes almost 3D in effect. I often think of this in the realm of sculpture. Seeing the scratches, or divots made can bring about a different feeling in a piece of work. Implied texture is created using different techniques and programs. Some of the most amazing artists create texture that borders on real. I love seeing the hyper realistic digital art and seeing how my own eye is often tricked.
Grids are seen in many types of contemporary art. A common place that we see the use of grids at home is in quilts. Kids see it in the pixel art of the video game Minecraft and learn to use the system of grids to create their own "works of art". Another aspect of grids is the use of perspective. Perspective and vanishing point can be used to draw your eye to a specific point, often further out in the distance. There are many other uses with the concept of grids such as laying a grid over a photo and using that to accurately draw the photo by hand without tracing.