Leveling Up Your Art Game: The Elements & Principles of Design | Dylan Mierzwinski | Skillshare

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Leveling Up Your Art Game: The Elements & Principles of Design

teacher avatar Dylan Mierzwinski, Illustrator & Lover of Flowers

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Leveling Up Introduction


    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      Who Is This Class For


    • 4.

      Elements of Design


    • 5.

      Principles of Design


    • 6.

      Further Examples


    • 7.

      Considering Style


    • 8.

      Utilizing Inspiration


    • 9.



    • 10.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Have you been growing your technical skills but are still in search of your style? Do you see a disconnect between your work and the work of those you admire? Are you a self taught creative who sometimes feels like an imposter? I have BEEN there, and this class is just for you. In under 45 minutes I go through the Art 101 lecture that every artist, regardless of medium, needs to tuck in their back pocket (or be reminded of!). Does it sound too good to be true that BASICS could make the difference in your work? I won't spoil the surprise (okay yes I will, it's a total gamechanger)

We'll be taking a look at the elements and principles of design, and then take it three steps further and apply it to:

  • Exploring and developing YOUR personal style
  • Utilizing inspiration and references WITHOUT stealing
  • Critiquing yours and others' work (way beyond "I like it/I don't like it")

I dropped out of school to pursue my creative dreams, and although it was the best decision I've made, it took a long time to shake off that "everyone knows something but me" feeling; like my lack of degree was written all over my work in some invisible language. Well, the truth is it was and it wasn't. If you make art, you're an artist, period. But there's definitely a foundation of knowledge that, when supplied to the hungry and ambitious artist, can set their path on fire and take their work from alright to excellent. It isn't a gimmick, it's as old as art itself and used widely by creatives of all kinds. In fact, you've probably already been using some of these tools without realizing it!

Take a break from those keyboard shortcuts and grab a coffee, it's time for the Art 101 lecture you've been waiting for.

Meet Your Teacher

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Dylan Mierzwinski

Illustrator & Lover of Flowers

Top Teacher

I'm an artist and educator living in Phoenix, Arizona, and my main mission here is to inspire you to fill up a sketchbook. And then to acquire another and do it again. You see, my sketchbooks have become a journal of my life as intimate as a diary; a place to meet myself on the page, to grow, to express, to enjoy myself, and to heal. And to commemorate my favorite snacks if I'm going to be so honest about it. It's the greatest thing ever, and all people deserve to dabble in creative practice.

In my time as a professional illustrator I've gotten to work with clients like Anthropologie, Magnolia, Martha Stewart, Red Cap Cards, Penguin Random House, and many more. As of this writing I've enjoyed teaching over 150k of you here on Skillshare, as well as many ... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Leveling Up Introduction: Hey, guys. I'm Dylan Mierzwinski, illustrator and surface pattern designer living in Phoenix, Arizona. In this Skillshare class, we're putting away our keyboard shortcuts and tablets to talk about the tools of the trade, not your equipment, not your social media platforms, but the elements and principles that can help you finally explore and develop your personal style, interpret endless inspiration without stealing or stepping on other artists' toes, and evaluate and critique your and others' artwork. In short, we're taking your artist identity to the next level. Grab your notebook and favorite highlighter and let's get started. 2. Class Project: For this class project, you're going to go on a scavenger hunt with the elements and principles of design in mind, followed by a hands-on exploration of those same elements and principles in any form of mark making you choose. Maybe you'll want to explore line with charcoal pens, play with color through painting, and consider balance with a set of wooden blocks. It's totally up to you. The best part is not only will this get your creative juices flowing and ready for your next project, but this can serve as the start of a creative playbook for you to pull ideas from to mix and match on those days when you're feeling stuck. All the details can be found on the project tab including resource downloads. 3. Who Is This Class For: Let's talk about who I envision this class being helpful for. You've probably already taken a handful of Skillshare classes and have started to build those technical skills. You've started sharing your work and wanting to grow your following, but you still see a clear disconnect between your artwork and those that have quote unquote "made it". You've made a lot of work, but it all looks different or looks like a rip off of someone you admire or just plainly doesn't feel like you. You want to start building a portfolio you're proud of and reaching out for those big dreams, but feel like you'll be spinning your wheels forever. Maybe you feel self-conscious about not having formal training or like you're an impostor. Maybe it's as simple as feeling overwhelmed when someone asks you for your input on their work or not knowing how to ask for feedback on your own work. If any combination of those sounds like you, then first of all we can call each other friends. Because I've been to all of those places multiple times, and second of all, I think you're going to take a lot away from this course. I'm not about to blow your mind with art secrets. This is art 101 stuff. But for self-taught creatives, it's exactly this foundation that can be a missing piece when you're focused on learning technical skills and even if you did have an art teacher cover this material, it makes a world more of sense once you actually have some context to apply it to. There's a reason it's part of art 101, it's fairly essential. 4. Elements of Design: First, we're going to talk about the elements of design, which we can think of as the building blocks that make up all of art. Painter and design theorist Maitland E. Graves summed it up nicely by saying, "These elements are the materials from which all designs are built." There is some ambiguity about how many elements there are ranging from like 6 to 10 depending on who you ask but I'm going to go with a solid seven. Let's start with the biggie that you probably know well, color. Color is an element of design that sets the mood or supplies a feeling or emotion for the piece. Color in itself is a world to be explored with color relationships, psychological and social meanings tied to colors and color harmonies and palettes that humans tend to find pleasing. But mainly it's important to know that color plays a large role in setting mood. We can take a piece of artwork and change only the colors and the whole feel of the piece can change drastically. Piggybacking off of color is value, which refers to the lightness or darkness of a color within a composition. Similar to color or hue, intentional value use can enhance or continue to convey a mood or emotion. For example, the color pink may set a mood of femininity, friendliness and softness, but whether the pink is a baby pink or a dusty rose changes the tone considerably. We'll touch more on this later but value plays a valuable role in creating depth, creating contrast, or driving emphasis. As a quick example, all the text here is the same size, font and hue, but the more drastic change in value i.e. the lightest and darkest is what commands and draws the eye first. Next we've got texture, which of course refers to the way a surface feels or is perceived to feel so think smooth, old, grainy, natural, synthetic, rough etc. Real textures are physical textures that we can touch, so the knit of the sweater you're wearing right now, or the bark of a tree outside your window. Simulations of textures, so a picture of tree bark or a draw in wood green texture is known as implied texture. So, most of the texture that we talk about in illustration is implied texture. Texture can add contrast and help emphasize a focal point, balance a composition, or simply create visual interest. Element number four is line. The complex description is a point moving in space but we know these as straight lines, curved lines, diagonal lines, broken lines, strong lines, blurred lines, implied lines. They can vary in width and texture, they can be created by two shapes touching, they can be closed or open. There are tons of ways that lines make their way into art and with lines comes shapes, so which are flat areas bound by line value or color. They can be geometric like bricks and hexagons, or organic like leaves and curves. They can occupy positive and negative space, they can be simple or complex and so on and so forth. I'd say the first five elements are all easy to grasp and relate to. But with six and seven we start to get a little bit less concrete. Number six is space in all design deals with space whether it's intentional or not as it refers to the area a shape takes up and the spaces between those shapes are the items evenly spaced, are they overlapping. Notice how a value gradation, so a gradation from dark to light can be used to create a drop shadow, which can create the feeling of 3D space in the 2D space. Space is a very flexible element and it has many avenues that can be explored. Lastly, we have form, which traditionally refers to 3D art that occupies space and has mass. It's the 3D version of shape. Form can be played within 2D work though. So, just because a sculpture has form doesn't mean that there isn't form in a drawing. A person that does a figure drawing may pay very close attention to the form and making sure the form of that body is portrayed. So, nothing brain shattering so far in our base elements of color, value, texture, lines, shapes, space and form. But let's start looking at the implications and relationships of these elements as related to the principles of design. 5. Principles of Design: If elements are the building blocks or base components, then the principles are the vehicles for, and the relationships between them. Some people call them rules, but I think that's a mislabelling. To relate it to food, elements are the ingredients, and principles are the techniques. First step is balance, which is the distribution of the visual weight of; objects, colors, textures, and space. So, you can think of it as if each element in your piece is adding weight to the piece, and that weight should be intentionally balanced or intentionally imbalanced, depending on the effect you're going for. For example, one large very light yellow circle may equal the same visual weight as a much smaller black circle. Balance can be symmetrical, asymmetrical or radial. If you take a blank canvas and add a square on one side of it, which side feels heavier? That's balance, and it can be achieved through endless combinations of the elements of design. Next step is a classic, and that's contrast, which refers to creating visual interest by juxtaposing opposing elements. So, think light and dark values, big and small shapes, smooth and rough textures, bright, and dull colors, front and back, or close and far in space, etcetera. Areas of contrast are among the first places that a viewer's eye is drawn, so you can use it very intentionally to direct the eyeline. Or on the flip side, you could use low contrast to keep less important elements from competing with the important ones. This brings us to emphasis or dominance, which is when attention is focused on a single area within a design, creating a focal point, often through contrast of some kind. Traditionally, this is referring to the literal single important element in a piece, but I like to think of it more as a general idea of creating a hierarchy in your design. What's the most important part? What's the second most important part? So on and so forth, and what can you do to make sure attention is being paid to those elements as intended? The next three all have names that will mix you up for a while because they all sound familiar, but they do have particular applications as it comes to art, and those are rhythm, repetition, and movement. Rhythm is like an actual beat, created by an equal spacing of visual elements, often employing repetition. So, in this Andy Warhol painting, the picture of Marilyn Monroe is repeated multiple times, creating a steady one one one one visual beat. Even with the variance in color from iteration-to-iteration, there's still a beat there. But rhythm can also have variation within the repeats, so think one two three one two three or one two one two, those are also rhythms even though they vary. This repetition doesn't only have to be with shape though, it can be any element or combination of elements, that's why rhythm is so exciting. Repetition then is easy, and is literally just the vehicle of repeating elements to create unity. In this piece by Luli, she used repetition of shape to create unity while letting color and value vary. Then we have movement, and movement refers to the line your eye follows through a piece of work. So, this Kandinsky painting exhibits movement and draws your eye all around and through the painting, but there isn't really a discernible rhythm to it, though there is some repetition of color and shape. Lastly, we've got unity. Unity is sort of the biggie, it's the main thing we're shooting here, which is a sense of wholeness that results from the combination of both harmony and variety. Now, if you're creating a piece to depict suffering or shedding light on a tough issue, perfect unity may not be what you're looking for, but in general with design and illustration you do want a sense of unity. You want your work to feel unified such that all the elements fit together comfortably. Be aware though, too much unity creates monotony, and too much variety creates chaos. You need a balance of both. So in review, our seven principles that bring our elements to life are balance, contrasts, emphasis, rhythm, repetition, movement, and unity. 6. Further Examples: Before we get heavy into the applications of what we just went over, let's take a quick look at some pieces of artwork so we can start putting these words and ideas to use. First up is this illustration on the left by Natalia Z. There are so many great things happening at once that I almost don't know where to start. Firstly, she utilizes space by creating a scene that gives the illustration dimension. It looks like the rowboat is moving forward towards the house, instead of stagnant, or backwards, or some other direction. Even though, the blue water takes up most of the scene, it doesn't distract your attention from the house and figure, because she masterfully used repetition in order to emphasize the other important elements. Do you notice how the shapes in the water are repeated all over? This helps our eyes not focus on it so much and go to the other elements. As well as a strong contrast in value, see how light the house is as compared to everything else in the scene. She created an interesting water texture, by using organic curved lines. Again, the lines don't contrast so heavily against the water that they distract the eye. The way she's created space also helps guide the viewer's eye, which aids in the movement. Next, we have this illustration set by Blanca Gomez, and I love this as an example for contrast and emphasis. My eye shoots right to the school bus in both images. Because the school bus is so different from the repeated shapes around it. Notice in the top one though, how the school bus doesn't stand out quite as strongly as in the bottom, and that's because of the surrounding elements are closer in color and value to the bus than in the case of the school bus in the trees. Plus the tree shapes are more different from the bus than the buildings are to the bus above. Notice how the repeated elements aren't perfect copies though. Blanca kept the piece visually interesting by slightly varying the shades of green and the trees, and supplying subtle texture. So, we have unity without monotony, and interest without distraction. This next piece is another great example of space as the perspective used, gives us a sense of being in a room. It sets up the space around us. This perspective also helps with the movement of the piece as it guides our eye up the room and out the door. Repetition was used in the beds to keep the eye moving up the hall, instead of having to stop and be distracted by differing comforters, or different bed shapes were able to just move right up there. With so much pattern and texture in this piece, you'd think it would be easy for it to become too chaotic. But the cohesive and limited color palette keeps everything from becoming overwhelming. The line work is less precise. So, the eye doesn't get hung up on details allowing it to continue to move freely. Over here we have this banana ampersand, cleverly titled bandana, and I love it as an example of playful and effective texture. So even though, the shape isn't what we're used to seeing in a banana, the color and stippling texture drive the point home without issue. I feel like I can smell the banana through the scene. Thanks to that texture. The texture also creates depth by playing with value changes as the stippling becomes more or less dense. It gives the banana a false but successful sense of 3D form. I've got two more examples that I wanted to point out in my own work. Then we're going to talk about style inspiration and critiquing. So, first off, I want to show one of my floral bouquets next to a classic botanical bouquet. Although, both are dealing with a floral bouquet emphasis that lives in the center of the page, traditional botanicals use value, texture, and color to show the flowers form. So, the actual shape of the flower in nature, they try to convey that. Whereas in my work, I like to strip the form from the flower in favor of a flat shape, and then I utilize line only when it's necessary to show texture or form. So, that's a great example too of how shape differs from form as an element. Here we have a watering can pattern I made. Which comes off as a fun and sweet summer pattern. Some of that comes from the color palette and the low contrast between the figure and the ground, and the figures themselves. But what drives that fun home is the rhythm. Even though, I took time to balance the space between the shapes as a whole, so it feels breathable and comfortable. The watering cans aren't all perfectly spaced from each other, or even facing the same direction. This slight variance forms the irregular beat that adds some energy to the pattern. Think of it as a jazz beat instead of the linear 1 1 1 beat that we saw in the Andy Warhol painting from earlier. 7. Considering Style: Now that you have a language and basis for interpreting our work in the world around you, you can look at the things that you love with freshly educated eyes. Now, instead of there being mystery, you can nail down with the pieces you love have in common and what all the stuff you don't love has in common, and then you can carry that into your own artwork. I'm going to use myself as an example. I have a mood board here which is a distilled collection of what I cover in my example class project. So, if you want to see more of what I'm talking about here and bigger images you can go check that out. I found these by going back in my illustration board on Pinterest, back to before I felt I had developed a style and was still kind of spinning my wheels and trying to make something I liked, and it's really fun for me to look back now to see that some of the pillars of my style today were foreshadowed in this stuff that I was collecting years ago. So this is sort of where the magic of you being you comes into play because no one else is going to combine these images just like I'm not going to make a mood board that looks exactly like yours. We're going to find strange combinations that play off of our own preferences. They're all from different artists and different types of work and yet the very thread that connects them is us and our love for them. That combination of particular preferences and things you're drawn to is exactly the stuff you want to key into and play with. That's your artist mojo. That's why having some elements and principles to consider can help guide your interpretation across different mediums and inform you. But let's take a look at this specifically so that you can see what I mean. Here are some of the main patterns I've found when taking a look at these old pins that I collected. First up is color. All the pins that I save for, their color had bold, contrast, and hue. Sometimes even a clash in hue. The palettes tended to be minimal. I also noticed that save for my love of yellow, most of the colors I've drawn to are actually darker or duller in value than most contemporary work I see. So for instance, where I see a lot of really, really bright corals use that are really saturated, the corals I tend to use in my work and that I am drawn to are a little bit more grounded, their darker they're a little less saturated. So I can note that as a personal preference of mine and something that sets me apart. Like I said, it's these preferences that are the gems that were looking out for. Next are the pins that drew my attention because of line. I noticed that I hardly ever liked line and used to outline a filled shape. I prefer reserved and thoughtful line placement for essential details and actually tend to prefer line to be used to create texture instead of to help form a shape. So that's pretty interesting. Next up are my shape preferences. As I just said, I don't usually like to create my shapes when in combination with color fills. I like the border of the color fills to create the shapes or implied lines and shapes from texture fills. It's less important to me looking at this and knowing my own work for the shapes to each have clear boundaries, and instead I want the idea of the shape or the group of shapes to come across with just a quick emphasis on necessary details only. So, I know it's small, but if you look at this form right here, this shape is not actually outlined. The only thing that's dictating this shape is where this texture where this stripe shows up, all the rest is negative space but we get an implied line there because of where the texture is placed. That's the same play that's happening in this trench coat here. The trench coat is being dictated by a pattern that is the same color as the background in black and so any of the places where we can see the black cutoff is where we can assume the line is of that object. Then up here with this cat there isn't a line outlining this cat, there's a cream fill that dictates where the shape of the cat is with some accent lines on top of it. So that's the kind of thing that I seem to be really drawn to when I'm looking at all this stuff. Lastly, I have my balance and emphasis. I tend to like linear clear layouts. Not that I don't like abstract work, but I tend to not like art or be drawn to art where I can't really understand why it's there or what it's bringing to the table. I like to know, "Okay, I'm looking at this piece and I can tell that this is a botanical or I can tell what is the figure and what is the ground", that kind of thing. I also tend to like my balance to feel symmetrical. So, if I were to cut this botanical over here in half, and again, I know it's small. If I were to cut it half, in half long ways, we would see that there is equal weight on either side. It's got symmetrical balance. However, the elements themselves aren't exactly the same. So this fern isn't the same fern that's over here. So I like there being a symmetrical balance where as the actual elements and shapes themselves are varied. So you can see that simply by collecting and paying attention to what you love, you can gather a ton of Intel about your own preferences and a combination that's totally your own. This doesn't just apply to artwork. Are there certain cars on the road whose shapes you gravitate towards? Do you prefer movies that are straightforward in nature or more avant-garde? Do you love when your house is dark and moody at night? When you take into consideration all the elements and principles at play and how they can be used to create a certain experience, you can reverse engineer that to create a style that's dynamic and ever growing instead of cramped and rigid. 8. Utilizing Inspiration: So, you're sitting down to work on an illustration. How does all of this information actually come into play here? Great question. I think it lends itself in two ways. First up, do yourself a favor and ask yourself what you're trying to accomplish. This can be something straightforward like a pretty floral illustration that showcases April flowers, or something deep and reflective like use depth and value to create a scene that represents a depressive episode. Either way, by setting even a broad direction you can get your brain turning on what tools you want to use to accomplish that. For a chaotic and dark scene, you would probably not use clean lines and bright colors, or maybe because of that, you want to juxtapose bright colors with dark imagery or heavy shapes. So, it's a quick exercise to weed out what won't work, what will, and what rules you might want to break. But the second way it lends itself is when considering how to use inspiration without stealing. Not a lot of artists are strong at creating 100 percent from their imaginations. So, how do you use references without ripping off the photographer? How do you admire other artists without subconsciously trying to emulate them? When you don't own the rights to the images you're looking at, you should interpret the elements and principles at play instead of the ideas and execution that the artist created and rendered. So let's move forward with my example of wanting to create a pretty floral illustration of April Flowers. First, I would do something like Google what flowers bloom in April, and then after my basic research phase I'd probably zoom in on peonies and say, "All right, I want to do something on peonies and so I would go and start to collect reference images from Google and Pinterest and stock sites, et cetera. Then sometimes I'll find or I'll just have in mind some finished pieces of art that I quite love and want to keep in mind from my work. So, here's where we need to be really really careful. I want to make sure I'm not copying their content. So, when I look at these pieces that I love, I'm not going to sample the colors and draw the same bouquet composition, or even look at them once I start working. Instead, I'm going to ask what I like about them. In this case, I love that there is a play with filled shapes and unfilled shapes. I love that it makes the composition feel layered instead of flat like I usually work. I love the high contrast in color. So again, you can see I'm not taking the content from this artist. I'm taking what I respond to in their work and then I can bring that into my own. If I find a lettering piece that I loved, I wouldn't then take the quote and letter it in the same style or letter a different quote in the same style. I'd pinpoint what I enjoyed about their piece in broader terms, and then work within that context on my piece. Additionally, when it comes to references, isn't it just the worst when you collect pictures of say three flowers and then can only draw those exact three flowers and nothing more? I hate feeling limited like that. By applying the elements and principles to reference photos though, we can start getting a few more blooms out of them, and more importantly in cases when we don't own the rights to the references like in this situation, I got these pictures off of Pinterest. I can completely avoid stepping on the photographer's toes. For instance, in these photos of peonies and I know they're small and kind of hard to see on the screen, I'm really assessing their shape. Overall they're round. I can see a common petal shape although they vary in size. Sometimes the petal tips flip outwards away from the mass of the flower. The leaves sometimes group at one spot. So, here you can see they're all growing in one spot, and sometimes they're more sparsely distributed. On profile view, the overall shape is rougher than when you're looking at one head-on. I can pay attention to how the petals or shapes interact with each other when they come in contact. I can see the values are darker closer to the center of the flower. Again, by looking more broadly at what we're seeing, I can now use these references to create a piece that isn't line for line of my references, but still not relying 100 percent on my imagination for the heavy lifting either. Looking at the final result, you can definitely see similarities between my work and the inspiration and references, but none of the flowers were drawn petal for petal. My colors weren't sampled from the artwork I loved, and I tried hard to stay true to myself within the confines I set based on my inspiration. Here's a rule of thumb I like to go by if I can't tell if I'm taking too much from my references. That's to ask myself, if this painter photographer artist who made my inspiration or my references saw my piece, how would we both feel about it? Sometimes there's this attitude of, they'll never know, or who could tell, or how could they prove it, and asking these question circumvents that because it doesn't really matter what the risk is, if the artist walked by and saw your piece, could you stand by it with integrity? Or would you cringe a little in an awkward moment and hope that they don't look too closely? One last note I want to add here before moving on to critiquing, and that's to not go overboard with feeling like every element and principle needs to be considered and intentional and perfectly calculated. A lot of art making is happy accidents, intuition, and quick decisions. Feel free to use these when you need help with direction. Sometimes, I don't even consider them until I'm almost done with the project and can't quite figure out why something isn't clicking. These are great guidelines, but don't let them hold up the most important part, the making. 9. Critiquing: Lastly, as if deconstructing your style and paving a way forward in your artwork weren't already enough, the elements and principles of design give us language to talk about artwork with other people. You know how it's really scary to ask for input on your artwork? Well, it's pretty uncomfortable to know about that vulnerability and still not feel sure what to say in response to someone asking you. Wanting to give a good feedback but not hurt feelings or talk out of turn, it can be really hard to navigate Wouldn't it just feel great to be able to offer something other than your subjective opinion of liking it or not? The elements and principles have your back here. Just like all the cases we've talked about before, ask yourself what you like about it. What is providing emphasis in the piece when you look at it? Is it balanced? Do the colors work? Even if your personal preferences vary from other artists. By simply shedding light on what you're seeing in terms they can understand, you give the artist and others another valuable perspective to consider neither are right or wrong. If you're not ready to ask others, you can use the same technique to critique and evaluate your own work. I asked a few brave volunteers to send me some artwork to do a live critique right here right now, so you can hear what it's like for me personally to move through this process. So, let's jump right in. First up I have this beautiful patterned tile by Anne Lafollette and the first thing I'm noticing is color. My eyes seemed to be pleased that there's this comfortable variance from light to dark. From that light light yellow to that dark rusty orange and the dark grey and an even balance and distribution of the color weights. So, for instance this yellow flower holds the lightest visual weight of all of them and because of that there's more of them. Since the burnt orange and dark grey flowers are heavier, there's less of them to help even things out. So, Anne nailed it on that distribution and balance there. This distribution also keeps my eyes comfortably flowing around the tile instead of being drawn or stuck into a single spot which is one of the main things you're trying to avoid when you're making your pattern. If I had to offer something constructive to consider, I'd say the very low contrast between the light yellow unfilled flowers, so not the filled ones just the unfilled ones, and the background makes my eyes buzz a little in an uncomfortable way, and it makes them strained to see if I'm missing something. Maybe the instances of the yellow unfilled flowers could have a slightly altered shade of yellow that provides more comfortable contrast against the background while still fitting in with the current palette or maybe all the yellow flowers should be filled. Notice how I didn't say, oh I love this or I hate this because while Anne may want to know my opinion she might want me to love it and I do, Anne I think this is a lovely pattern. That response doesn't really give Anne much to go off of. Now, that doesn't mean that since I'm doing a better job at critiquing that she has to take my suggestions. But now she at least has a new perspective into what's being seen by another person. Thank you so much Anne. You can check out more of Anne's delicate flowers at annelafollette. Next up we have a painting from Alanna Cartier. So, right off the bat my eye goes to the center of the plate and that's not only because it's the center of the page but because the items with the strongest contrast in value are there. So the actual nutmeg and the cloves, they provide higher contrast than anything else on the page. So, I'd say that's successful and probably where Alanna wants my attention to be focused. Then I have this nice mid tone plate that circles the emphasis without competing with it, and then the eyeline gets more interesting with each arrow line and piece of text that labels the spices that helps with the movement of the piece. My constructive bit is this: so my eye starts in the center, moves around and outwards, and then it's sort of stunted by the edge of the page, and I think that makes the overall harmony and balance feel incomplete or unsettled. I'm really happy Alanna gave me this piece because when I first opened it, I felt that unsettled movement or space but couldn't really find it right away because as I moved throughout the shapes I thought everything was really nice, nothing really looked out of place. So sometimes we have to step back from the actual content of the page and look at the form. In this case, look at the difference it makes just reframing the white space around the painting. Suddenly the text and arrows have room to breathe which gives my eyeline room to move back in and out of the center comfortably. Actually, now that I'm not distracted by the framing, I can appreciate the subtle depth created by the values and shadows that I wasn't really seeing before. I can enjoy the organic linework created by the brush and everything feels more complete just by reframing it. Thank you so much Alanna. If you guys want to follow along with her painting journeys, you can find her on Instagram at alannacartier. All righty, here we have a pencil drawing by Rebecca Espana and oh my goodness, my eyes just instantly felt the unity of this piece. The contrast of cool colors on warm colors is so satisfying and really the perfect balance of harmony and variance like we were talking about earlier. If it were all analagous warm colors, the piece might be dull and monotonous. If the cool and warm colors were split 50 50 and distributed with more even rhythm, it might be super chaotic but her err on the side of warm with a compliment of cool is just right. All the shapes seem to be organic which helps them belong in the piece together. What I noticed most is it appears you've set out to illustrate this startling scene and the placement of the scene on the lower half instead of being perfectly centered helps play with the space to start to get me there. But there's just something about it that feels incomplete. We've got this happy and sweet scene and then just nothing, just a blank page. By no means do all scenes need to take up every square inch of the page or have a background scene or anything like that but, in this case, I do think even having a subtle added design element could tie this piece to the background better. Remember how the palette errs on the warm side. What if the background color were a warm neutral instead of the cooler neutral that it currently is? Or what if the tiniest suggestion of a tree or a hill or texture were in the background? Just anything that gives us a step between the cold background page and the warm scene that you've created. Thank you a million times, Rebecca. You can follow along with her work at beejoyart. Lastly, but certainly not least, we have this adorable cat portrait by Corri Sheff. Just like AIanna's painting, Corri nailed it with giving the cat the highest amount of contrast to draw our eye right to it. The delicate organic shaped flowers are colorful and light but don't compete with the star of the show which is a hard balance to find when there are so many elements in a piece. I also love that the cat's shape is so solid and heavy in weight while the flower forms are delicate and airy with lots of play between the foreground and background which also probably helps the floral border be complimentary instead of distracting or heavy. She's created lovely textures with color and soft lines and really no single element feels like it doesn't belong. My eye starts on the cat moves throughout the piece and comes back to the center. My constructive comment for this piece is just like AIanna's, there's no element or principle in the painting that's throwing me off except for the overall balance. I think a framing adjustment could perfect it and help it feel more complete. You can see even without centering the cat in the composition, just giving the piece slight breathing room around the edge helps relax the piece. Obviously with a finished painting, you don't always have the luxury of re-cropping or moving around elements but maybe Corri will keep this in mind for next time and try to judge the balance throughout the life of the painting. One other thing to consider would be the space of this piece, at the bottom of the illustration we have some flower stems falling off the page which makes them feel like they're growing into the scene. But all the other flowers are nicely within the edge of the composition. Now, this doesn't have to be resolved but it's always best to be intentional about those decisions instead of letting them be decided by chance. Maybe it would help if the ones around the edge were all coming from out of the frame, or none of them, or some other solution. Now, that we've added some white space around the edge it might actually work to have those flowers that are coming from the bottom come all the way from out of the scene just to help the upward movement towards the cat. Corri, I love this. Thank you so so much for sharing. You can follow along with her illustration journey at corri_sheff. 10. Final Thoughts: So, that's it guys, the Art 101 lecture that will give you traction and all the hard work you've already been putting in on learning your technical skills, and doing the actual work. I hope you're delighted that these simple definitions and ideas can be used in so many functional applications, it's not just words. Nothing can replace the power of committing to regularly making and exploring your artwork, but combining that body of work with language and the tools to break it down, and understand it better, that's when you really go from being technically competent to a creative force. Of course, thank you so much for taking this class. Don't forget to look at the resources I've shared in the project tab and to get started on your scavenger hunt. It's one small step in the way of getting clear on who you are as an artist. Lastly, love Instagram. Follow me at BYDYLANM for more tips and shares about my work flow, and creative process. Oh, and lots of prizes.