Aug 16

How Technology has Influenced Art

old graphic computer

A vintage graphic design computer

Technology is certainly transforming art in many ways. Thanks to the Internet almost best online trading platform south africa any artist can share their creations with millions of people. As with many independent musical artists, many visual artists have cut out galleries as a middleman and they sell directly to their patrons who can view the gallery on-line. For artists who are featured in gallery exhibits, these events are more easily discovered and shared between like-minded communities with programs like Google+ and Facebook.

Artists are now more comfortable using many mediums. A century ago a painter had to rely upon canvas and paint. Today many painters are able to paint on a tablet or cell phone wherever they happen to get inspired. In the old days, an artist who received the inspiration of a still life at a café would have to try to capture it in her memory and paint it later. Now an artist in the same café can take a photo of the still life, or use a digital program to render the idea. Lugging around an easel, canvas and paints is no longer necessary.

There are artists today whose medium is software programming: fingers on a keyboard instead of a hammer and a chisel. Most Western artists have some training in programming or software applications of some type to create art. You cannot attend any respectable art school without learning a few things about Adobe Photoshop. There are sculptors today who create their sculptures in CAD programs and they then send the instructions to stone cutting factories for rendering. And that applies to plastics, vinyl, foam, and wood. Michelangelo may be rolling in his grave, but I have a feeling that the inventive Leonardo Da Vinci would approve.

At the same time, the computer era in which we live has put sophisticated artistic tools into the hands of everyday people. Those who would not have been artists a century ago are now learning how to create art digitally in their spare time. Where folk art by untrained artists used to be considered rough or crude and that was its charm, one can now argue that modern folk art is being produced on computers by amateurs all over the world. And this folk art can be quite sophisticated. The democratization of art is happening. The artist is no longer an elite role in society as it once was. The lines are being blurred.

This includes the line of media. Digital media has introduced many new tools and mediums. Hybrid forms of art have emerged. Some art is a cross between painting, photography and performance art. So much so that some artists have a hard time describing their medium. They can no longer say simply, “I am a sculptor,” or “I paint in oils.” With more choice has come more complexity and diversity of expression.

Exhibitions are often interactive so that the art creates a different experience with each individual user. Virtual immersive environments have created art that isn’t really there…it’s all created virtually with 3-D glasses and augmented reality sensors.  An empty glass cube may seem humdrum and boring, and then completely be transformed by the addition of augmented reality glasses. Suddenly the glass box appears to be filled with a school of swimming fish. Now you see it, now you don’t.  This is the stuff of magic and science fiction!

I love technology and I love art. We are living in the future…the future imagined by TV shows like Star Trek has arrived. Beam me up, Scottie!

Aug 16

The Custom Screen Door

custom screen door

A custom screed door

There is resurgence in remodeling with a mind toward keeping the quaint, charm of the old architecture intact. The beautiful homes of the 1920s – 1950s deserve to keep their noble exteriors. The wood siding can be replaced and the front pillars can be fortified. Inside the old oak floors can be sanded and polished. But when the front screen door finally falls apart, what to do?

The owners of these stylish mid-century homes have started hiring welders and iron-workers to create new, modern designs for the doors. The modern designs give the old house a unique character. Because the door is the first thing you see, an artistic, custom screen door adds an eclectic flair to what might otherwise be a standard mid-century house. It is the focal point of the home as viewed from the outside and it can be quite eye-catching.

In the southern United States, screen doors are very popular because they let the breeze blow through the house while keeping the mosquitoes outside. Places in the south often have long seasons where neither heat nor air conditioning is needed so screen doors are a necessity for air flow. The original screen doors mass produced in 1950’s were pretty boring. It is refreshing to see this old standard get a new redesign.

The welders and iron-workers who create these doors are used to fabricating gates, fences and heavy security doors so it was not much of a stretch for them to create screen door designs. In fact, they are much easier to create than heavier pieces. Red River Restorations in Austin is a business that specializes in restoring and recreating old doors in old houses with a modern flair. Some of the doors are geometric or abstract curlicues. And some portray a simple scene, like herons. When I visited the old neighborhoods of Austin, Texas, two years ago, I was delighted to see so many unique doorways.

I photographed some of these doors on my trip and had the occasion to chat with an owner or two. They all had a unique story and were able to find an artist to craft that story into a door.

custom screen door

A custom screen door with roses.

The artists who create these doors attempt to make the design fit with the house and the culture.  For example a beach house in Florida has a swordfish on the door because the owner is a deep-sea fisherman. A gingerbread house with a  quaint old design has delicate roses in the corners.

With this trend in remodeling screen doors, wood carvers have joined in. Many screen doors are wooden with carved nature scenes in front of the screening. And even the screening has changed since the 1950’s. It is often made of a special solar shade material that keeps the heat index down but let’s the cool air blow through. This is especially important for front doors that face east or southwest into the direct sun.

Welders and iron-workers quickly saw the opportunity to package their custom doors with custom door handles, doorknockers, and kickplates so homeowners get a complete matching package. I could write a separate article just on doorknockers because they are so artful and  plentiful. But suffice it to say these threshold additions are modernly refreshing. It’s always a pleasure when old meets new without clashing, and this is the case with these custom screened doors and door accessories.


Aug 16

The Wonderful City Museum

The City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, describes itself as an “eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel.” It is a wonderful place to take children, but adults will also be astounded. It is open to midnight every night and even has a few cocktail bars inside!

City Museum

The slides and tunnels of the City Museum

After having visited this fantastic wonderland last year, I have to agree. This is a work in progress. The team of artists is continually adding new layers to the museum, which opened in 1997. There is something comforting about the fact that it is still evolving and changing. It seems fitting somehow.

The late sculptor, Bob Cassily, created this fantastic playground of the imagination. The building and much of the museum illustrates a common theme in modern art: recycled materials. Using recycled materials from the industries and antiques in the St. Louis area, Cassily and his team of artists created a hodge podge of steampunk aesthetics that somehow meshes together to form a cohesive and understandable whole. The old building that houses the museum was formerly the International Shoe Factory. Not surprisingly the museum has shoestring factory exhibit where you can actually have shoestrings made.

The museum has many recycled elements from old chimneys, walls of artistically placed old printing plates, salvaged bridges, construction cranes, floors and floors of intricate mosaic tile, a bus hanging off of the top of the building and even two abandoned airplanes. In fact there is just so much stuff packed into this 600,000 square foot building that’s impossible to see everything in one visit. A visit to this museum becomes like a treasure hunt in which one tries to identify the many reclaimed objects that have come together to form something brand new. A wall of what looked like aluminum bread pans turned out to be reclaimed chemistry pans from a former laboratory. The painted spindles on the all the railings are the cylinders from factory conveyer belts. Much like Tibetan prayer wheels, you can spin these as you walk by.


Reclaimed tiles made into a river of fish


There are old statues of eagles and gargoyles spouting water in a pool filled with pennies. There is an indoor, glass-enclosed aquarium filled with turtles. There is a room filled with old Victorian collections of insects, skeletons and animals in jars.

The entire museum is filled with long slides and child sized tunnels. I witnessed more than one parent having a panic attack because they had lost track of their child in the labyrinth of small tunnels. But this is great fun for the kids who can squirm through wire cages over the heads of visitors or wiggle through tree trunks into a secret underground tunnel. The large trees throughout the museum were reclaimed. As many opportunities as there are to crawl, there are equally as many to climb. There is even a skateless skate park where children can run up and down ramps and swing from ropes. The sides of the ramps are painted with artful, surrealistic characters and animals.

If this museum is anything, it is active! One floor sports a circus with regular shows. And there are interactive amusements as well. There is a puppet show where you can make your own puppets. There is a snowflake room where you can cut a repeating six-sided tessellation into a paper as the lady inside the room tells you stories about Eastern Europe.

If you are ever in St. Louis, Missouri, be sure to spend a few hours in the City Museum. You will not be disappointed!

Aug 15

The Art of the Door

Door in Bali

Detail of a door in Bali

One’s first impression of a home is often the front door. One notices the shape of the door, the doorknocker, and the window. It is often said that first impressions are everything. And so it should come as no surprise artists and architects love designing doors. These are not your run of the mill Home Depot doors, oh no. These are gateways to new worlds, thresholds to wonder.

In places with forests, doors throughout modern history have traditionally been made of wood, and wood can be carved. So the art of the carved door has a long and storied history in many cultures. Perhaps the most skilled wood sculptures on the planet are the Balinese of Indonesia. I was pleased to visit the artisans of Bali on two occasions and marveled at their exquisite skill in carving wood. From scaled dragons to delicate lotus dancers, these doors begged to be opened! Often volcanic stone around the door was carved as well, really creating a grand gateway.

The Balinese traditionally used teak wood for doors and heavy furniture. Teak is a hardwood known for its water resistance and durability. This was a plus in a rainy, tropical area like Bali. Unfortunately, the teak tree has been ravaged and is now heavily protected. This means that the already carved doors are often antique and they are highly coveted. Old reclaimed teak wood from houses is often repurposed into doors. Because teak is so durable these antique doors are often in excellent shape. There is a frisk import business for these doors to all areas of the globe.

The doors in Bali are sometimes painted but most often the teak is simply polished to allow the natural wood sheen to shine through. Because the Balinese are expert sculptors they often carve many layers around a door whether into a wood frame or into the soft volcanic stone that is so abundant there. This creates a grand entrance indeed! Because so many Balinese are artisans, even low income and middle class people have ornately carved doors. I have heard that in Bali there is no word for “artist” because it is naturally assumed everyone is one.


Balinese doorknocker


The people of Bali are also expert metal workers and smiths. You will find many a gorgeous doorknocker and pull ring on these large teak doors. The combination of carved threshold, carved door and

intricate doorknocker or pull is stunning. The doors themselves are works of art and every building seems to have a piece on display as you stroll through the towns.

Unlike Western culture, no two doors are alike. Each one is carved by hand and has a different design. While two closing doors may be mirror images of each other, they might just as easily be a continuation of one large scene, like a lotus garden with herons. Other common theme are battles, deities, dancers, elephants, musicians, and the water.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend a trip to Bali, Indonesia, if for no other reason than to step through so many grand thresholds!

It’s not often you can step through an artistic canvas.




Aug 15

When Art and Cars Collide

Janis Joplin porsche

Janis Joplin and her Porsche

It is a tradition among my friends to have fun painting and revamping old cars. My friend Emmy has a car whose paint job looks like undulating ocean waves. My friend Benito once had a car that was completely covered in AstroTurf with miniature figurines glued to the hood. These friends are not professional artists but they are part of a growing art car community that has been around for decades.

An art car is a vehicle that has been modified as a creative expression of the owner. While there has been a long tradition of modifying cars, both artistically and technologically, the art car movement probably first started in American in the hippie movement of the 1960s. For example, Janis Joplin asked one of her roadies to paint her white Porche in psychedelic images. He did an excellent job and that car is now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And in 1975, french racecar driver, Herve Poulain commissioned Alexander Calder to paint his BMW racecar. This seemed to ignite a trend among professional artists around the world. More BMW racecars were painted by such notable artists as Frank Stella, Roy Lichenstein, Robert Rauschenberg Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol! BMW has wisely capitalized

BMW by Sandro Chia

BMW race car painted by Sandro Chia

on this trend by becoming a patron to the arts and using the artwork to promote messages about green energy, among other things.

Today one of the biggest convocation of art cars happens at the annual Burning Man Festival in Nevada (but there are art car festivals all over the U.S.) Festival artists work all year long on fantastical art cars that they proudly display on the flat sands of the desert where the festival takes place. I had the pleasure to attend this festival in 2009 and the number and variety of the art cars astounded me, especially at night when they are lit up with glowing and blinking lights.. Most of these art cars were open to picking you up for a little ride through festival. It was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the festival; most especially because

Elephant Art Car

Elephant Art Car

it’s a five-mile hike from end to the other. The landscape became an ocean crowded with ships of the sea. There was in fact a huge pirate ship art car that was probably a bus originally.

The artistic paint jobs of the 60’s and 70’s and have transformed in to the complete retrofitting of cars, buses, vans and recreational vehicles. These mobile sculptures are sometimes called ‘mutant vehicles.’ In many cases the frames, the engines and even the axels of these vehicles have been permanently altered to support the sculptural illusion. The car disappears and the sculpture appears.

Here are a few of my favorite examples of art cars:

  • A car transformed into a huge whale with open mouth where passengers can ride
  • A car transformed into a mastodon skeleton
  • A car transformed into a huge angler fish (passenger ride in the mouth)
  • A van transformed into a huge chicken

    House Art Car

    Victorian House Art Car

  • A truck transformed into a UFO
  • An SUV completely covered in marshmallow Easter peeps
  • A truck transformed into a gabled, Victorian home
  • A truck transformed into a dragonfly with glowing, blue wings extending far above the truck.

I am not able to list all the amazing photos, but if you search Google for “burning man mutant vehicles,” you will not be disappointed.

I look forward to this art car trend spreading around the world!

Aug 15

The History of Technology in Visual Art

Venus of Willendorf

Paleolithic sculpture of the female form

Our opposable thumbs make us inveterate tool users. Tool technologies have been the foundation of new artistic techniques throughout history. In fact, the history of art is the history of inventions in tool technology. We take it for granted now, but the paintbrush was once a brand new invention.

Anthropologists agree that artistic creations first emerged in the Paleolithic period over 50,000 years ago. Ancient peoples in the Middle and Late Paleolithic period carved female figures like the well-known Venus of Willendorf, which was excavated near Willendorf, Austria. They used ochre and manganese oxide for cave paintings such as the amazing examples found in Lascaux and Chauvet, France. Ancient humans proudly adorned themselves with beads and carved bones. Now, some 50,000 years later, sculpture, painting and jewelry creation are still very much alive in the human imagination. And our tools have evolved along the way.

The early Egyptians invented not only the first art and writing paper but also the first pens. Bones, rock and sticks were of no use on papyrus paper, so the first pens were created. This was in 4000 B.C. and today pen, ink and paper are still essential tools of any accomplished draughtsman.

At around the same time that Egyptians were inventing pen and paper, the ancient peoples of Sumer were inventing the potter’s wheel. Before the potter’s wheel, creating clay pots was a labor –intensive endeavor. The potter’s wheel brought symmetry and graceful curves to pottery. The first wheels were spun with one hand as the other hand shaped the vessel. Today potters use a kick wheel, which still utilizes the flywheel technology invented by the Egyptians in about 3000 B.C.

More recently, in 250 BCE glassblowing was discovered by a Syrian craftsman in Babylonia. The technique used short clay pipes to blow into the glass. Within decades of its discovery, there were many new techniques for blowing glass.

In the common era, early fifteenth century, Italian painter, Filippo Brunelleschi, demonstrated the

perspective painting by Raphael

A perspective painting by Raphael

geometrical method of perspective drawing. Before the invention of perspective drawing, distance was a problem for artists. The sizing of people and objects in the distance was uneven and followed no mathematical patterns. Brunelleschi discovered the perspective method when he attempted to paint some building in a mirror. He noticed that all the lines of the buildings converged in the distance on the horizon. Not long after this discovery every painter in Florence was using perspective in their art.

Only two centuries ago, photography was first invented using paper coated with silver oxide and fixed with nitric acid. Artistic technology always evolved rapidly and 50 years after the black and white photograph was invented, James Clerk Maxwell invented the color photograph in 1851. And by 1903 the Lumiere brothers had created the first film.

It is worth noting that James Clerk Maxwell and Louis Lumiere were physicists not artists. And so it is that the birth of modern scientists and artists was married together. The technological artistic advancements since the early 20th century have seen such exponential growth that they are too numerous to name. The rest of this blog is devoted to exploring this strange marriage of modern technology, computers, science and art. Our tools have evolved but our need to create art and express ourselves has remained constant through the ages.

Aug 14

Not your Grandmother’s Quilt

modern quilt

A modern quilt design

Contemporary quilting has come a long way since the days when grandmothers gathered around a table and spent hours making patchwork quilts. Quilts today are often designed with amazing creativity. In the art world there is definitely a modern take on this age-old practice of home décor.

A quilt is an artistic piece where form and function meet. It can be used for warmth on a chilly day or hung on the wall as piece of art. Quilting exhibits are popping up in art galleries all over and it is now an accepted form of artistic work. Some quilts sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

In the early days of quilting, it was often a collaborative endeavor. Women would come together and work for hours on a quilt as they chatted and enjoyed social time. There is strong collaborative sensibility still alive today. Many people are familiar with the AIDS memorial quilt. More than 48,000 people contributed 3 x 6 foot memorial panels to commemorate those who have died of AIDS. This community project was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. It remains the largest community project ever attempted in the world.

Artistic quilts today are often used to commemorate someone who has died or to create an intention of healing for someone who is ill. Artist Kristin Hoelscher-Schacker created a wonderful piece called Prayer Flag. She started the quilt when her sister-in-law was sick and dying. The quilt incorporates prayer flags, Mexican Milagros charms, and Tibetan prayer beads.

Designs in quilting today often incorporate exotic prints like batiks from Indonesia. Some artists use modern printers to create artistic panels for their quilts. Sometimes intricate landscapes and still lifes are rendered in fabric. Complex mathematical and geometric designs such as tessellations and fractals are often represented. The layering of different fabrics can create depth and texture.

Some artists still use an old Bernina sewing machine to create their quilts. And others use newer tools and techniques such as fusing fabric to the quilt as if it were a canvas. Artist Pat Kroth incorporates many different materials into her quilts. Her modern quilts are layered with rickrack, jewelry, postage stamps, buttons, paperclips, and even candy wrappers!

Similarly, Diane Savona makes her quilts of materials gathered at estate sales. Recycling of materials is certainly a trend in the modern arts in general. And in Savona’s quilts we can find hand-made doilies, old embroidery, and antique lace. Her contemporary quilts are a look back through history at the fabric art of previous generations.

So it would seem that artistic quilters of today rely upon their imagination, experiences and emotions to create quilts. Quilting as a modern art form arose with the rise of feminism in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The quilt could say so much about gender roles and home crafts that were traditionally performed by women. Even today most quilting artists are female with a few exceptions.

The Whitney was the first large gallery to take quilting seriously.  In 1971 the exhibit Abstract Design I American Quilts was presented. This exhibit allowed quilting to break away from the idea that it was just something on display at county fairs. There are now many annual exhibits of contemporary quilting, including the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas.

This new vision of quilts as a serious art form has worked its way backward through culture as well. It’s now very common for everyday quilters to think more creatively and construct new designs that have been influenced by the artistic quilting movement seen in galleries.

Aug 14

A New Tool in Contemporary Woodworking

Burning Man Temple

Temple of Joy by David Best (2002)

Wood has long been a medium for three-dimensional artists. Woodcarving and sculpture has a long and venerable tradition, probably dating to prehistoric times.  Until the invention of the wood router in the early twentieth century, the tools of the trade were blades, chisels  and mallets.

The wood router was invented in the early twentieth century. It allowed industrial workers to quickly carve out the grooves for cabinets, doors and spindles. These industrial routers traditionally used a jig to keep the carving in a standard, pre-set shape. In 1957 MIT invented the computer controlled numerical (CNC) mills that were run by punch-card computer programs. These mills take dimensional directions from the X, Y and Z axes to carve and created objects. The first uses of the CNC routers were all industrial. With the advent of the personal computer, CAD programs like Autocad ran these routers.

After many decades of  industrial use, the CNC routers got cheaper and the technology got better and pretty soon individual inventors were making their own CNC routers. It did not take long for modern artists to discover and finance their own CNC routers for large and small wood projects.

The most popular CNC router among contemporary artists is called the ShopBot, a brand name.

It was invented in 1996 by a boat builder and by 2007 had been widely adopted as a tool by both  hobbyist wood workers and artists. Today there are Shopbots that cost under $4500.

The work of Curious Customs

Elaborate temple designed with CNC routers invented in 1996 by a boat builder and by 2007 had been widely adopted as a tool by hobbyist wood workers and artists. Today there are Shopbots that cost under $4500.

So what have artists been making with these computer controlled wood working routers? Temples! The power of the wood router was first popularized by sculptor, David Best whose elaborate temple structures were created at Burning Man. These same elaborate structures were burned at the end of the event. Best used recycled wood sheets  (from making toys and other punch-outs) and a computer controlled router to carve out the elaborate pieces. His first work at Burning Man was The Temple of Mind in 2000. These temples were made from exquisitely carved, bone-like pieces of wood. They appear delicate and incredibly intricate. The design and construction takes months and each piece must be numbered and categorized so volunteers can construct the pieces later.

In 2009 I had the pleasure of assisting with the Burning Man temple designed by Marilee Ratliff and Dave Umlas of Austin, Texas. This lotus-shaped temple also used a robotic Shopbot running day and night to produce all the panels and pieces. Other artistic contributors submitted Adobe Illustrator designs for the lower panels so it was a collaborative work and a labor of love. This immaculate temple was then burned as planned on the last day of the festival. But artists Ratliff and Umlas have stuck with it. They now run a business called Curious Customs that specializes in artisan CNC routed wood designs. Curious Customs ( funds their larger projects with grants and by selling laser routed lamps with intricate designs.

3D stars

Ilya Pieper next to her art.

This year in 2013, the Burning Man cafe centerpiece is a complex three-dimensional star inspired by sacred geometry. It was also created by artists in Austin, Texas, thanks to the opening of the Tech Shop. The Tech Shop is a membership-based facility with state of the art laser cutters, Shopbots and other high tech equipment. There are Tech Shops in four American cities: Austin, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and San Jose. There are none in Canada…yet! These facilities are bringing expensive, artistic technologies closer to artists through collaborative financing. This is a trend that I think will continue into the future, giving artists the ability to create awe-inspiring, fine tooled wood sculptures that were inaccessible to them just five years ago.

Aug 03

Importance of Art in School

art2When money is tough, art is one of the things that is cut out of a school budget. But we have to put in mind that art is an important subject, not only on its own but in the rest of education as well. It plays an important role in almost all aspects of education, from creativity to interpretation to discussion to understanding design.

The basis of any art projects is creativity. Creativity is an important skill for the  mind to master. Creativity applies to all aspects of life, even in business. Training in art is  because it helps develop a creative mind. It is needed to brainstorm solutions to experiments and projects and to think quickly. When you make something with the limited materials that are available, that is being creative and resourceful. Artists often have to make due with limited means and resources to produce beautiful works of art. Artists are masters of efficiency and effectiveness.

Projects of art are free flowing. Students are able to make decisions and think for themselves based on what they wish to do instead of being given exact directions. This is also required in Philosophy. There may be other subjects that don’t require much creativity like arithmetic. But both mathematics and art education are equally important for different reasons.

Interpretation relies on appreciation of art. An important part of understanding art is learning how to interpret a piece of art. Science and mathematics also make use of interpretation as an important part of these subjects. Students are able to strengthen their interpretation abilities during art classes, and this spills over their ability to interpret other subjects as well.

Students of art give importance to discussing different pieces. They talk about various designs and what they look like. During art classes they discuss various ideas. It is also important that discussion is done in other areas of education. In order to succeed at things, like debates speech classes or social studies, students must learn to express themselves. The courses for natural art make discussion invaluable to these things.

Some art may be creative like computer design and geometric design, but it has a lot to do with design and requires knowledge about that type of design and format. You may see geometric shapes and other design elements in math courses. Students understand how geometric patterns fit together when it comes to mathematics.

For other subjects, art can be very useful as well. In geography, you learn how to draw and appreciate maps. For geometry, students learn through the use of geometric patterns. Students learn and understand social studies and English better by learning how to illustrate objects and people. Different subjects become easier to learn from having art included in them.

Aug 03

Elements and Principles of Design


Design and art are distinct disciplines that have natural similarities between them. There are also differences. In this article I will discuss the similar basic concepts use by both graphic designers and artists alike. The principles and elements of design are used in art, interior design, architecture, automobile design and industrial design.

An essential element in design and art is color. Color is used to express basic human emotions. It has properties that affect the appearance of art, including hue, intensity and value. When used in art and design, it involves individual elements of color and contrasting colors. Remember when Apple iMac computers offered several unusual colors? Steve Jobs was a master at design.

Shapes in a specific work may have an impact in their own right or in terms of how they fit within the design as a whole. Shapes illicit emotions too. A curved shape gives a different feeling than a hard, sharp-edges shape. Blurring of a shape has another effect on human emotions.

In design, a line can be a visible, physical mark connecting two or more points or an implied line, drawing the viewer’s eye in a particular direction. A line may be defined by surrounding objects or it may be the clearly signified outline to a shape. Lines affects the arrangement and appearance of the objects in an artwork or design object. The lines of a car are very important to the owners and industrial designers consider this when drafting a new automobile frame.

Space is typically thought of in two senses. It can be an indicator of physical dimensions or depth and also of empty areas inside or outside an object. Space can be a factor in both two- and three-dimensional designs, indicating how elements are situated in relation to one another.

Texture is an indicator of the touch quality of an element in art or design. Texture implies that an element has some quality such as roughness, smoothness, heat, cold, softness or hardness. Texture can have a significant impact on how a piece of work is perceived. Thick oil paintings such as those by Vincent Van Gogh have a lot of texture. They are almost sculptures.

Balance refers to the way in which the elements in an artwork or design are weighed up against one another horizontally, vertically or on any other axis. Balance in art can be achieved using symmetry or asymmetry, both of which create significantly different effects on the viewer’s eye. The strategically balanced mobiles of Alexander Calder are an excellent example of balance in motion.

Proportion is a measure of the sizes and areas occupied by elements in a design or artwork, relative to one another. Proportion therefore indicates something about how the individual parts of a work relate to each other and will often involve scaling or distortion to create different visual effects. Perspective drawings in which all the lines disappear into the horizon are an example of realistic proportion. The huge human sculptures by Henry Moore are disproportionate to the reality of the female form, but pleasing in an artistic sense.

Emphasis is used in designs and compositions to imply a sense of relative importance for elements, some having more or less dominance than others. An effective use of emphasis in  artwork can affect the way in which the viewer’s eye is drawn towards certain areas as well as how the objects within them are perceived. Contrast is an example of emphasis.

These elements are used by artistic designers constantly whether they realize it or not. For masters, these principles are applied intuitively.