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the philosophy of art focusing on questions regarding what art is, how it is evaluated, the concept of beauty, and the relationship between the idea of beauty and the concept of art


the art of beautiful writing; broadly, a flowing use of line, often varying from thick to thin


used to describe natural landscapes that are attractively poetic, rather than dramatic; original meaning is traced to the paintings of Claude Lorrain and other landscape painters

art criticism

– the process of using formal analysis, description, and interpretation to evaluate or explain the quality and meanings of art


– the alteration of works of art, or their removal from public view

contextual theory

– a method of art criticism that focuses on the cultural systems behind works of art; these may be economic, racial, political, or social

expressive theory

– a method of art criticism that attempts to discern personal elements in works of art, as opposed to formal strategies or cultural influences

formal theory

– a method of art criticism that values stylistic innovation over personal expression or cultural communication


– having no color (or hue)

additive color mixture

– the mixture of colored light

analogous colors

– colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, such as blue,blue-green, and green

atmospheric (aerial) perspective

– a type of perspective in which the illusion of depth is created by changing color, value, and detail

biomorphic shape

– a shape in a work of art that resembles a living organism or an organic shape


– the gradations of light and dark values in two-dimensional images

closed form

– a self-contained or explicitly limited form that has a resolved balance of tensions

color scheme

– a set of colors chosen for a work of art in order to promote a specific mood or effect

complementary colors

– two hues directly opposite one another on a color wheel, such as red and green, that, when mixed together in proper proportions, produce a neutral gray

cool colors

– colors whose relative visual temperatures make them seem cool

eye level

– in linear perspective, the presumed height of the artist’s eyes; this becomes the presumed height of the viewer standing in front of the finished work


– separate shape(s) that seem to lie above a background or ground

geometric shape

– any shape enclosed by square or straight or perfectly circular lines


– the background in a two-dimensional work; the area around and between figure(s)

horizon line

– in linear perspective, the implied or actual line or edge placed on a two-dimensional surface to represent the place in nature where the sky meets the horizontal land or water plane

– that property of a color identifying a specific, named wavelength of light such as green, red, blue, and so on

implied line

– a line in a composition that is not actually drawn; it may be a sight line of a figure in a composition, or a line along which two shapes align with each other


– the relative purity or saturation of a hue (color), on a scale from bright (pure) to dull

kinetic art

– art that incorporates actual movement as part of the design


– a long, narrow mark; usually made by drawing with a tool or a brush, but may be created by placing two forms next to each other

linear perspective

– a system of perspective in which parallel lines appear to converge as they recede into the distance, meeting at a vanishing point on the horizon

local color

– the color of an object as we experience it, without shadows or reflections


– the physical bulk of a solid body of material


– a color scheme limited to variations of one hue

negative shape

– a background or ground shape seen in relation to foreground or figure shapes


– not associated with any single hue; can be made by mixing complementary hues

one-point perspective

– a perspective system in which all parallel lines converge at a single vanishing point

open form

– a form whose exterior is irregular and which has a sense of growth, change, or unresolved tension

organic shape

– an irregular, non-geometric shape


– a system for creating an illusion of depth or three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface

picture plane

– the two-dimensional picture surface

positive shape

– a figure or foreground shape, as opposed to a negative ground or background shape

primary hues

(also referred to as primary colors) – red, yellow, and blue; these pigment hues cannot be produced by an intermixing of other hues

secondary hues

– orange, green, and violet; the mixture of two primaries produces a secondary hue


– a hue with black added


– a two-dimensional or implied two-dimensional area defined by line or changes in color

subtractive color mixture

– mixture of colored pigments in the forms of paints, inks, pastels, and so on

tertiary hues

– red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet; each hue is located between the primary and the secondary hue of which it is composed


– the tactile qualities of surfaces, or the visual representation of those qualities


– having height, width, and depth


– a hue with white added


– having the dimensions of height and width only

two-point perspective

– a perspective system in which two sets of parallel lines appear to converge at two points on the horizon line


– the relative lightness and darkness of surfaces

vanishing point

– in linear perspective, the point on the horizon line at which lines or edges that are parallel appear to converge

vantage point

– the position from which the viewer looks at an object or visual field

vertical placement

– a method for suggesting the third dimension of depth in a two-dimensional work by placing an object above another in the composition


– the space enclosed or filled by a three-dimensional object or figure

warm colors

– colors whose relative visual temperature makes them seem warm

asymmetrical balance

– the various elements of a work are balanced but not symmetrical


– lack of symmetry


– an arrangement of parts achieving a state of equilibrium between opposing forces or influences


– the organization of visual elements in an artwork


– the juxtaposition of strongly dissimilar elements; dramatic effects can be produced when dark is set against light, large against small, bright colors against dull


– the process of organizing visual elements and the product of that process

directional forces

– pathways that the artist embeds in a work for the viewer’s eye to follow


– a method an artist uses to draw attention to an area; may be done with central placement, large size, bright color, or high contrast

focal point

– the principal area of emphasis in a work of art; the place to which the artist directs the most attention through composition


– the shape or proportions of a picture plane


– all-over design created by the repetitive ordering of design elements


– the size relationship of parts to a whole and to one another


– the recurrence of visual elements


– the regular or ordered repetition of dominant and subordinate elements or units within a design with related variations

s cale

– the size relation of one thing to another


– technique by which an artist ranks certain areas of a work as of lesser importance; areas are generally subordinated through placement, color, or size

symmetrical balance

– the near or exact matching of left and right sides of a three-dimensional form or a two-dimensional composition


– a design (or composition) with nearly identical form on opposite sides of a dividing line or central axis


– the appearance of similarity, consistency, or oneness


– the opposite of unity; diverse elements in the composition of a work of art

It will consist of a 500 word written description and analysis of a work of art using terminology from Chapters 2-5.

For this assignment, you are to discuss the form, content, and subject matter of a work of art chosen from the list provided. This is an exercise in recognizing visual elements and principles of design in works of art and demonstrating an understanding of how they relate to each other to create meaning. This paper is about looking and seeing. This is not a research paper; you will not need to do additional research. Please follow the outline provided below.

First: Select a work of art

Circle of Diego Quispe Tito. The Virgin of Carmel Saving Souls in Purgatory. Late 17th century. Fig. 1.22, pg. 17.

An artist’s use of iconography can reveal a wealth of cultural information. For example, the Peruvian painting The Virgin of Carmel Saving Souls in Purgatory ( fig. 1.22 ) contains many iconographic details that enrich its meaning. Some of these are obvious to those familiar with Christian iconography: The two winged figures standing in the foreground are angels; at the top is God the Father holding the orb of the world; below him is a dove that represents the Holy Spirit; Mary wears a crown to show that she is the Queen of Heaven. People emerge from a flaming pit that is purgatory, led by an angel. In the left corner, another angel holds a cross that symbolizes the sacrifice of Christ; he also holds a balance, symbolizing the weighing of souls that takes place in purgatory. The meaning of these details is established by convention and long use.

Other details might be less familiar but equally meaningful. The Virgin of Carmel refers to an appearance of Mary that took place in the thirteenth century; at that time she promised that anyone who wore a special garment called a scapular would not suffer the fires of hell. Both Mary and the child Jesus carry purselike objects that represent the scapulars that people wore or carried for protection. In this painting, Mary makes a special effort to save from purgatory the souls who may not have owned the protecting scapular. Thus the work was a sign of hope.

Midterm Paper Outline

Introduction (First Paragraph)

In the first paragraph, called the introduction, you will include:

· An identification of the work of art you selected: The name of the artist, title (which is underlined or italicized every time you use the title in your paper), date, and medium.

· Your initial interpretation of the subject based on your initial observations.


Describe how each of the following is used in the piece you selected.

Visual Elements:

1. Line: what types of lines do you see in the piece? Provide examples.

2. Shape: what types of shapes do you see? Provide examples.

3. Mass: How is mass implied?

4. Space: How is the illusion of space created in the piece?

5. Time and Motion: Are time and motion evident in tis piece? How so?

6. Light: How is light used here?

7. Color: How does the artist use color?

8. Texture: How does the artist create the illusion of texture, or incorporate actual texture

Principles of Design

1. Unity and Variety: In what way is this piece unified and how is variety integrated.

2. Balance: how is the piece balanced and how does the artist accomplish this.

3. Emphasis and Subordination: What is the focal point and how is it emphasized?

4. Directional Forces: what leads our attention to the area of emphasis?

5. Contrast: Are elements that are strongly different? Consider colors and value also.

6. Repetition and Rhythm: What elements repeat in the composition

7. Scale and Proportion: Consider the relationships between things and their size

Papers submitted with terms addressed in a random order will be returned for clarification and reorganization and considered late. Additionally, papers submitted analyzing a work not listed in the requirements will also be returned for re-submission and considered late. There are 15 terms; each term is worth 5 points for a total of 75 points. You will receive 1-5 points for each term based on the depth of your response to each term.


After your analysis, has your initial interpretation of the meaning changed? If so, in what way? If not, how has your analysis reinforced your initial interpretation? Review your Introduction and initial observations and share ways in which your impression or interpretation of the work has changed.

Make sure you proofread your papers for issues with grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other errors. If you reference a source other than the text (not required), cite this reference according to the APA or Chicago Manual of Style. The use of any secondary reference without providing citation is plagiarism and will receive a score of 0. Submitting the work of another is also considered plagiarism. Papers are checked for previous submission to the College and for any uncited content. Repeated incidents of plagiarism are reported to the Academic Affairs Office and the student receives an “F “grade in the course.

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