Whether consciously or unconsciously, every artist, artisan, or craftsperson considers the Seven Elements of Design in their work. It is an important lesson one learns in class in art school, usually towards the beginning of their journey. Using these elements can be instinctual, but the more we are aware of them, the easier it is for us to manipulate them in our craft. Being able to identify the different elements can also help a potential buyer better appreciate the difference between a good design and a bad design.
We have all looked at something and said to ourselves, “that isn’t quite right, but I can’t figure out why?” Utilizing knowledge of Line, Color, Shape, Texture, Form, Value, and Space can help us better evaluate our visual field and determine why something works or flat out does not.
|Customized hand embroidery hoop by Stray Notions|
Lines give a sense of order to our world. Look around you. The very letters we write are a series of lines placed together to take on meaning. We drive in lines of cars. We wait in lines for our turn.
|Lamps, Baden Baden, Germany, by Kerry Hawkins Photography|
Color gives life to our world. Picture a flower garden with no color. Colors can be playful and child-like. Why else would coloring be a favorite activity by so many children?
|Halloween Ball Ornament by Lush Beads|
We are always talking about how we want to get into shape. We want to change the organic outline of out bodies to take a different form or feel, one that we believe is more pleasing to the eye. Of course, getting into shape has health benefits too!
|Crochet Button Brooch by Lady Dye Fiber Arts|
In an art museum there is an overwhelming desire to touch certain pieces we see. A cold hard marble statue can appear so lifelike that we swear if we touched it we would be able to feel warm blood coursing through it’s veins. Oil painters use layer upon layer of paint, one could feel the coarse canvas with their eyes closed, marveling that the image itself appears perfectly smooth.
|Raku vase by City by the Sea Ceramics|
We fill out paper forms almost every day. A form is a way of acknowledging that there is an infinite amount of information available, and constrains us to just what is needed. In the same way, the form of a piece of art does the same thing.
|Original Encaustic Collage with Recycled Materials by Jessica Burko|
We are always speaking of someone’s values. Are they a moral good person? Or are they always doing horrid things? Good advice is no one’s values are black or white, but many shades of grey.
|Sunflower necklace in sterling silver by Cristina Hurley|
We are always identifying the amount of space something takes up. Will there be enough room for my furniture? Is there too much empty space? Are you taking up too much space in my life?
One could easily argue that the elements of design are also important elements in our lives. Through them, we bring meaning and balance to our work as well as to our life. Similarly, our completed work can bring balance and harmony to the lives of others who purchase our work.