Design Elements Summer 2017 Midsemester Project

Two Dimensional Design

Two dimensional design is the exploration of all art forms and the way to understand how they were created or why they are so interesting. Understanding the many different techniques of design helps artist create and audiences appreciate art in its many forms.

Figure and foreground

Figure and Foreground is the use of the positive space and how it interacts with negative space. The eye is naturally drawn to positive space but the use of the two elements together makes the hidden seen and challenges to eye to explore all spaces, not just the spaces it is drawn to first. Using photography as an example, the person in the photo will typically be the figure and everything else will be the foreground. The main focus is the person, but just as in art sometimes another look reveals hidden images.

"Where Silence Speaks" Bev Doolittle; "All is Vanity" by Charles Allen Gilbert; Salvador Dali.

Frame and Surface

Frame and surface creates a space where the eye is pleased and not overwhelmed. This concept introduces the Fibonacci Spiral. The Fibonacci spiral exams the frame of the artwork with a geometrical pattern in a spiral, drawing the eye to the center of the spiral, but as you can see the center of the spiral is not necessarily the center of the image or artwork. This concept is all about understanding why things are pleasing to the eye and how to construct a piece which will be pleasing to the eye using the special concept of a balanced image with frame and surface.

Fibonacci Spiral transposed on "Batman" by LuckStar

Mark and line

Mark and Line is a basic concept of using a mark (Stippling) or line (Hatching or Cross-hatching) to create art. Stippling is the use of Dots to create texture, shading and depth in a piece. Hatching and Cross-Hatching is the use of lines by themselves or perpendicular lines to create an image and shade the image to give it depth. Taking a closer look at some artwork will reveal mark and lines techniques are used much more heavily than you might thing, mostly in pen and pencil pieces, but these techniques are used widely in many mediums.

"BookPlate" Kristy Patterson; Hands by Henry Moore.
Chuck close

the grid

The Grid introduces us to the linear concept of a grid, like graph paper used in geometry the grid segragates it's contents and then produces a piece which combines each individual element into one larger piece. The grid can be as simple as a literal grid as seen in works of Agnes Martin or vivid as seen in the works of Chuck Close. The grid teaches artist perspective as well as special recognition as seen when using the grid to determine line of sight. There are many uses for the grid approach to artwork and it is seen in many different element, some less obvious than others.

Ballpoint Drawing by Mathew Borrett, "Tumsae" by Chung-I'm Kim, "The Fieldworker" by Sol Lewitt, "On a Clear Day" Agnes Martin.


Pattern can be used by simply repeating a design to create a different feeling or emotion than a solid color. The repeating elements give life to the rhythm of the artwork and can equally have added value by adding a variance in the pattern. The disruption of rythmn is almost like a solo in a symphony, the focus of the viewer will be on the disruption, the perfection is in the imperfection of the pattern when used in this way.

The exercise below was one that helped me understand pattern, by removing the pattern the piece is completely disrupted and gives a different emotion. This is a negative example of pattern change, but it is meant to show how the removal of pattern and rythmn effects the way the piece is viewed.

"The Kiss" Gustav Klimt
Photo by Aaron Mason given texture.


Texture is one of my favorite design elements. Texture can be used in the literal sense by using paint to form texture or mixed media art to create interesting textures. There can also be implied texture as seen above, where the texture of the piece did not actually change but the texture is implied by using color and depth. Through texture the entire feeling of a piece changes, the complexity of it's creation changes and the finished product communicates the feeling and emotion behind the texture created.

Pollock, Jason Martin, Laura Edgar, Conrad Jon Godly, Edgar Muller.


Created with images by rmgirardin - "Crayon Art Melted Shavings"

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