Notes on the Design Reading

Language of Design:

Ø  Basic Terminology:

·         visual language- the ideas that communication occurs through visual symbols, not verbal (words)

·         design- the process of selecting and organizing elements or components in order to fulfill a specific purpose, whether functional or aesthetic (often both)

·         process- a method for solving problems that involves choice and planning

·         art- skill, taste, beauty, truth, talent, self expression

·         taste- personal preference in aesthetic matters

·         elements- components or parts which can be isolated and defined in any visual design or work of art

·         medium- the combination of materials and techniques

Ø  Elements of Design:

·         point-

§  orientation

§  mind creates connections between multiple points

§  gestalt- the compulsion to connect parts; grouping

§  images can be built prom points

·         line-

§  a mark made by a moving point

§  psychological impact according to variations in direction and weight

§  suggest forms

§  combine w/ other lines to create textures and patterns

§  different styles of lines carry different expressive qualities

·         maps, graphs, plans, calligraphy

§  horizontal line: feeling of rest or repose

§  vertical lines: loftiness and spirituality

§  diagonal lines: movement or direction; used to show depth in 2D compositions

§  curved lines:

·         deep, acute curves: confusion, turbulence, frenzy

·         soft, shallow curves: comfort, safety, familiarity, relaxation

·         form (shape)-

§  areas or masses which define objects in space; cannot exist without space

§  organic forms- irregular in outline; often asymmetrical; often thought as naturally occurring (though not always)

§  geometric forms- correspond to regular shapes, such as squares, circles, cubes, cones, etc.; often thought of as constructed (though not always)

§  realistic or naturalistic- recognizable forms

§  abstract- forms difficult to identify

§  viewpoint, lighting affect perception of form

§  2-dimensional form-

·         width and height

·         can create the illusion of 3D objects

§  3-dimensional form-

·         depth, width, and height

·         movement-

§  operates in 4th dimension- time

§  literal- actual physical movement

§  compositional- how the viewer’s eye moves through the composition (there is ALWAYS some sort of compositional movement in a composition)

§  static- jumpy movement

§  dynamic- smooth movement

·         color-

§  hue- the pure spectrum of colors

§  value- the lightness or darkness of a color

§  contrast- separates objects in space

§  gradation- suggests mass and contour

§  similar values will make shapes seem to flatten; contrasting values will appear separate in space and objects will stand out

§  psychological implications:

·         red- (positive) energetic, exciting, passionate; (negative) aggression, anger, violence

·         orange- (pos) friendliness, warmth; (neg) lack of quality

·         yellow- (pos) upbeat, modern, optimistic; (neg) it’s overwhelming

·         green- (pos) nature, life, stability, restfulness; (neg) decay, toxicity, envy

·         blue- (pos) coolness, flattering, spirituality; (neg) depression, alienation

·         violet- (pos) fantasy, playfulness, impulsive, dream; (neg) nightmares, madness

·         pattern-

§  an underlying structure that organizes surfaces or structure in a consistent, regular manner

§  repeating unit of shape or form

§  exists in nature as well as designed objects

§  types of patterns: flow, branching, spiral, packing and cracking

·         texture-

§  the quality of an object we can sense through touch (but is still visual)

§  types: rough, hard, smooth, soft, warm, cold, wet, dry, etc.

Ø  Principles of Design:

·         concepts used to organize or arrange the structural elements of design

·         balance-

§  visual equilibrium

§  symmetrical- formal balance; objects of equal weight or size on both sides

§  asymmetrical- informal balance; objects of differing weight or size on each side (objects balance out in weight though)

·         proportion-

§  the relative size and scale of various elements in a design

·         rhythm-

§  timed movement through space

§  creates predictability and order

§  depends on pattern and movement to achieve its effects

§  linear rhythm- flow of the individual line

§  repetition- uses patterning to create timed movement and a visual “beat”

§  alternation- sequence of repeats are presented in turn (short/fat; dark/light)

§  gradation- displays a progression of steps

·         emphasis (point of focus, interruption)-

§  marks the locations in a composition which most strongly draw the viewers attention

§  often a main point of emphasis

§  emphasis is drawn through: repetition, contrast, texture, shape, size or scale, positioning, etc.

·         unity-

§  the coherence of the whole; harmony of all the parts in a composition

§  pattern is the most essential element in unity; followed by consistency in form and color

Media of Design:

Ø  Painting:

·         applying color to a surface (color was created by grinding certain substances to a fine powder and mixing with a liquid)

·         encaustic- powder is mixed with hot wax; produces semi- translucent, durable colors; permits sculptural modeling on the paint surface; used in late Roman times (2nd Century AD)

·         fresco secco- powder is mixed with water and applied to a dry plaster wall; hard appearance; colors flake off wall; 2500-1000 BC

·         fresco- powder is mixed w/ water and applied to a wet plaster wall; colors combine w/ plaster; does not peel; does not allow for mistakes, however; ex. Sistine Chapel (16th Century AD)

·         egg tempera- powder mixed w/ egg yolk; dries quickly; opaque, matte surface; bright colors; common in 14th-15th Centuries

·         mosaic- created by setting small pieces of colored glass or stone in wet mortar; creates image out of points

·         oil paint- powder mixed w/ fine oil; painted on canvas; thinned w/ turpentine to create desired thickness

·         watercolor- powder mixed w/ gum-arabic and then w/ water; painted on paper; creates translucent washes of color

·         acrylic- artificial compound that is mixed w/ water; creates the look of oil paintings; dries quickly

·         collage- created by pasting photographs, news clippings, and other images on the painting surface

Ø  Drawing:

·         usually the draft work

·         can be quick sketches, or longer works

·         can be simple or complex

·         implements include charcoal, pencil, pen, brush, crayon, chalk, etc.

Ø  Printmaking:

·         an image on paper or other material created by one of the following processes

·         can create multiple copies with one template

·         color prints require more than one template

·         relief prints- created with a raise printing surface; areas not meant to print are cut away; ink adheres to the raised parts

·         intaglio- involves a metal plate; created with an embossed surface; ink collects in the sunken areas and the paper is forced into those areas to receive the ink; types include etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint

·         lithograph- draws on a flat stone or metal plate w/ a greasy crayon; stone is dampened w/ water, then inked; the ink clings to the crayon marks and transfers to the paper when pressed against it

·         silk screen- areas not to be printed are blocked out on a screen; paper is placed underneath screen and ink is forced through onto paper

Ø  Textiles:

·         fibers and yarns-

§  bast, cotton, cord, felt, linen, silk, wool, etc.

§  weaving styles: compound, floats, ikat, knotted pile, simple, twill

§  all weaving styles involve warp (a set of yarns held in sequence) and weft (yarns that are interlaced through the warp); the way the weft is interlaced creates the different patterns

§  coloring:

·         dye- color chemically bonds with fibers

·         pigment- color adheres to surface of fibers

·         painting

·         printing

·         resist- any process by which areas of the cloth are protected from the action of the dyes; batik (waxes block color), shibori (tie dye)

·         needle and thread techniques: appliqué, embroidery, patchwork, quilting, trapunto

Ø  Metal:

·         design can be industrial or sculptural

·         alloys are mixtures of metals that have different properties from the component pure metals

·         casting- using a mold to shape molten metal

·         chasing- created by driving pointed tools into the metal

·         enameling- fusing of a glassy substance onto metal

·         forging- hammering metal to change its shape

·         repousee- pushing out metal from reverse side to create a design on the front

Ø  Wood:

·         easy to work; soft

·         painting preserves wood as well as decorates

·         carving requires use of a knife to shape piece of wood

·         marquetry- using veneers (thin sheets of wood) to create inlays

·         turning- can create rounded pieces of wood by spinning wood on lathe while cutting it

·         bending- moistening the wood decreases it’s rigidity, so it is more malleable

Ø  Glass:

·         heated glass becomes malleable, making it easy to shape

·         techniques include blowing, carving, etching, engraving

·         colored glass is created by adding specific minerals to the molten glass (ex. Gold to create red, manganese for purple, etc.)

·         stained glass- a collage made from different colored pieces of glass

Ø  Ceramics:

·         clay is a type of earth that is workable when moist, but can become hard when heated

·         used to make pots, bowls, pitchers, etc.

·         methods: pinching, coiling, slab construction (ancient techniques); wheel throwing

·         earthenware- clay objects dried over an open fire; porous, soft, not waterproof

·         kiln- creates temperatures much hotter than open flame; creates stoneware, which is harder and stronger, and waterproof

·         porcelain- finest quality of ceramics

Evolution of the Fine Arts:

Ø  Purposes of Art:

·         religious ritual

·         commemoration of an important event

·         propaganda/social commentary

·         record visual data

·         create beauty

·         storytelling

·         convey emotion

·         interpret

Ø  The Nature of Change:

·         historic events affected styles of art in content, form, and materials

·         change in content:

§  photography spurred a change; artists became challenged by perfectness of photography; light, relationships of color, and fundamental form became concerns for artists

§  colonialism brought new styles and techniques

§  psychoanalysis helped create surrealism

·         change in form:

§  impressionism stressed light; painters worked in nature rather than a studio; artist became uninterested by actual subject being painted, just the way light affected it

§  fauvism relied heavily on color; color was put on canvas that had no relation to actual color of object

§  cubism interested in the relativity of a changing viewpoint; attempted to show all points at the same time

§  de Stijl focused on color and proportion

§  surrealism “promoted methods for eliciting images directly from the unconscious”

§  expressionism created emotionally charged images; distortions of color and form impact viewer

·         change in materials:

§  assemblage made a move from 2D to 3D; collages, of a sort

§  found objects

§  movement in art has always been an image artists have been trying to create

Ø  The Development of Modern Art:

·         before WWII, only European art was taken seriously; after mass exodus from Europe, American art became more recognized; American’s became largect developers of new styles

·         pop art- based on the power of popular images, derived from mass media

·         op art- geometric patterns and carefully calibrated colors

·         minimalism, conceptual art, electronic art

Decorative Arts:

Ø  Victorian:

·         eclectic; mingles styles from different ages and cultures

·         love of elaborate decoration

Ø  Arts and Crafts (Mission):

·         craftsmanship and quality became highlight in products

·         design “for the people and by the people”

·         form and function

·         expensive (no longer for the people)

Ø  Art Nouveau:

·         nature is source of all good design: grasses, vines, butterflies, peacock feathers

·         flowing curves

·         similar to arts and crafts

Ø  Art Deco:

·         eclectic borrowing from other sources

·         draws on colors and styles of early modern art movements

·         inspired by Chinese and Japanese art

·         use marquetry, enameling, and other techniques to create surface interest

Ø  Frank Lloyd Wright

·         architect

·         “form follows function”

·         lots of glass in buildings to create feeling of openness

·         Falling Water: use of cantilevers to incorporate nature

Ø  De Stijl:

·         functionalism

·         rectilinearity of the planes

·         no surface decoration except color (only pure primary hues) and black and white


Ø  Bauhaus/Modern:

·         combination of de Stijl and Frank Lloyd Wright

·         form following function

·         most honest and direct use of materials the most functional way to design

·         rectilinear

Ø  Post Modern:

·         reaction against modernism


Ø  the total arrangement of all outwardly detectable modifications of the body itself and all material objects added to it (includes accessories, hairstyles, and any other alterations)

Ø  Functions of Clothing:

·         protection, warmth

·         communicates our identity

·         modesty

·         seduction

·         status

·         ceremony or ritual

Ø  Construction:

·         draped garments-

§   a length of fabric wrapped or tied around body

§  toga, sari, sarong

·         semi-fitted garments-

§  assembled from simple shapes; does not necessarily fit to a specific body

§  kimono

·         tailored to fit-

§  curved seams, round armsceyes; fits exact contours of body

§  suit

·         tailored to exaggerate-

§  padding or constriction of body

§  corsets, shoulder pads

Ø  Historic Dress:

·         women’s dress has evolved more over last 200 years than men’s

·         directoire/empire

§  loss of corset; less semi-fitted; more surface decoration; shawls and gloves introduced

·         romantic

§  skirts fuller; waist lower, corsets reenter; silhouette suggested a weak body

·         early Victorian

§  FULL skirts (hoops supported fabric); bonnets hid face; all skin covered except for face

·         late Victorian

§  black became fashionable color, not just for mourning; full skirts were swept back to buttocks, creating tighter, narrow front

·         art nouveau

§  hour-glass figure; flared, ruffled sleeves; women began wearing pants for sportswear (bloomers)

·         early art deco:

§  narrow, relaxed; hemlines climbed to mid-calf, then knee; tubular silhouette

·         late art deco:

§  hemlines dropped to ankle; dresses clung to body; soft crepe, chiffon, satin used as material; bared back for evening wear; trousers became acceptable for women to wear in public

·         the new look:

§  new domesticity, more feminine look; thin skirts; led by Christian Dior

·         St. Laurent:

§  less closely fitted; sculpt shapes that stood away from body

·         era of youth and change:

§  characteristics stressed youth (experimentation, revolution, innovation); miniskirt; styles branched greatly

·         men’s fashion:

§  the business suit a mainstay for 200 years; now sweaters were in use for leisure, not just sport; clothing of athletes, cowboys, soldiers, et al became common (blue jeans, caps, boots, leather jackets, t-shirts)

Non-Western Modes of Thinking:

Ø  India:

·         over history, India has been invaded by numerous people, all leaving some aspect behind

·         Hinduism main religion

§  many deities, one all powerful god, Brahma

·         animals represent gods often in art, due to belief in reincarnation

Ø  China:

·         ideology similar to Hinduism (animistic beliefs centered on seasons and fertility of plants, animals, and humans)

·         animals in Chinese art all have specific meaning (ex. crane=longevity, phoenix=renewal)

·         paintings on scroll

·         mountain ranges typical subject of painting

·         architecture is timber construction

§  curved roof beams due to belief that demons travel only in straight lines

Ø  Japan:

·         strong connection to Chinese culture

·         Shintoism- nature is filled w/ gods

·         painting is abstract compared to Chinese

·         writing system adopted and developed from Chinese

Ø  Islamic Near East:

·         due to religion, images of living beings are forbidden from artwork

·         works are non-representational

·         large interest in patterning the sky

·         four main colors (red, yellow, green. and blue) represent four traditional elements (fire, air, water, earth)

Ø  Africa:

·         much of artwork has decomposed because it is made of wood, bone, ivory, and fibers

·         all art objects have a function, whether ceremonial, sacred, or practical

·         craftsmanship is highly respected

·         balance between resemblance and likeness

§  ex. a figure should be identifiable as a man, but not a specific man

·         clarity of line is important

·         emotional proportion

·         persons are depicted in the prime of life

Ø  Native Americans:

·         woodlands:

§  designs are highly stylized

§  masks made for ceremonial purposes, believed to turn the wearer into the spirit represented

§  birch bark, quillwork, wood, and stone common materials

·         plains:

§  hunters

§  art made from materials taken from a hunt: hides embellished with quillwork and painting

§  pipes, medicine bags

·         Mississipian:

§  city-builders, but agricultural as well

§  carvings in stone, metal tools

·         Southwest:

§  earthenware, woven baskets

§  used wool and cotton in weavings

·         Northwest coast:

§  elaborately decorated houses

§  woodwork, weaving, totem poles

§  ceramics

Ø  South and Central Americans:

·         Incans and Mayans large source of artifacts

·         religious practice revolved around seasons

·         textiles important in Andes (showed wealth)

·         sculptures and ceramics depict elaborate costumes





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