Visual Communication

How shapes convey a meaning:

I have just been introduced to contextual studies which in my opinion is the meaning behind art and design. This is an important aspect to understand to really be able to give evidence behind my work and meaning behind my decisions. Today I have been lectured on examples of  visual communication, and how shapes convey a meaning. Almost every shape has a meaning, to demonstrate this I have matched the shapes below with these words

1  2  4  3

The sharp edges on the spiky shape would represent the words, antagonistic, scary, and aggressive. I often see shapes like this used on Pop Art posters and comic books such as Beano, they would represent speech such as the words BANG! and CRASH! Or in comic books for explosions etc. There isn’t really anything natural that takes a similar shape apart from hedgehogs or the obvious one lightning bolts that have a sharp spiky shape. The circle shape is smooth, soft, quiet and more of a feminine comforting shape. Having no sharp edges or points the circle shape looks very gentle and harmless, its reminds me of the word baby. The arrow can be easily represent the words positive direction or moving upwards. The shape is a combination between a spiky and rectangle object therefore the arrow shape has a masculine and positive feel around the shape. The shape itself can be found on road signs and fire exits etc. The tall shape would represent the words elegant, authority and sophistication. I often see shapes like this when I look at university buildings, they almost look like they’re giving jurisdiction. Generally tall and sophisticated conforms to rectangular shape. The next logical step is to go around finding objects that fit these stereotypical shapes.

Mr Men examples:

9781405250733_Z mr sneeze-1  mr tall  mr rush

In the lesson we talked about Mr Men Characters and how the shape of them can mean different things. The first character is little miss sunshine, this represents the circle shape which is soft and quiet, the character is a girl, and a circle shape is always portrayed as a feminine shape. The second image is Mr Sneeze now this character is meant to be loud and lusty hence the name “Mr Sneeze” the sharp spiky shape is represented as a masculine shape, hence the male character. The third character is Mr Tall, the character represents the tall rectangle shape, which emphasizes the words authority and elegance, this is a very masculine shape . The final character is Mr Rush, this character imitates the arrow shape, this shape represents the words positive and movement. The word movement fits well with his name ‘Mr Rush’ because he is always moving. The shape is also a masculine shape hence the male character.

Examples I have found:


Considering the shapes I have just looked, the next step was to find some materials or objects that fit the shape stereotypically. I decided to find some primary objects that were laying around my house as well as researching examples on the internet which I will look at later. The first thing I found was this glass blue wine like bottle, I’m not 100 percent sure what is is actually used for. When I first laid eyes upon the bottle, I immediately thought of the words elegance and authority. The bottle has a very masculine ambiance to it and feels very substantial and heavy, This demonstrates to me that whatever the glass bottle was seemingly used for a masculine audience.


The second primary object I found in my house is a Soap and Glory bottle. This is clearly a very feminine drink and has a roundness shape to influence that its nothing too different from a regular soap bottle.The soap bottle rather is a dignified and reticent. Its a mixture between the rectangle shape and the circle shape, the rectangle shape shows its elegance, but the circular shape shows its soft side, the bottle also has quite a soft feel to the bottle, which proves its a more of a feminine object.


This sort of object I looked up on the internet, its a combination of a more curved rectangle, and a soft feminine circle shape. There are more elegant looking jewellery boxes out there that follow a more rectangular shape and tend to be more expensive showing that rectangles are still a more elegant and sleek shape. Nonetheless the circle shape that is combined with the rectangular shape does associate with the qualities and of the shapes it is made from. the box has a warm and soft feel to it, looking through the points I have made, it suggests to me that this is a feminine object.

holly bush

This primary image I took is of a holly bush in my back garden, the shape of the leaves are spiky which suggest this has an aggressive feel, its the sort of object/shape that can startle people if you touch it, I straight away guessed this was a masculine shape as its very contentious.


after looking at objects i could find around my house I started looking at some images on the internet what i could find, this is a great example for the arrow shape, the subway logo has arrows either side, if you loook closely you can see both arrows are pointing upwards this suggest the shape is positive. It’s is a combination between a spiky and rectangle object therefore the arrow shape has a masculine feel around the shape. If the arrows were pointing down, it would shows a negative mood.

When i was talking about the spiky shape at the beginning of the topic, I often see spiky shapes on Pop Art posters and comic books such as Beano, they would represent speech such as the words BANG! and CRASH! Or in comic books when explosions occur this suggests masculine and aggressive actions. When I used to read comic book when I were younger I always used to come across the destructive spiky shape. The shape captures your attention on any magazines, comics or even adverts, it draws the eye towards it.

How colours communicate:


The first colour we looked at was red, which is the most passionate and powerful colour. The colour has many diverse meanings, its can perceived as a very aggressive and contentious colour, danger, blood and anger all use red imagery as its an invigorating colour. It can be a rather intimidating colour, hence why the colours is used on military uniforms. Its also a lively and challenging colour, this means It will most likely make you feel aroused and agitated, not forgetting warm. However when I see red most of the time its usually used as a seductive and colour too, such as for sex, roses and lipstick.


The next we looked at in the lecture was Blue, which is completely the opposite to red, blue is more of a spiritual and conservative colour, it is often associated with church, religion, and heaven. When I think of the colour blue I always assume the words cool and harmonious, its a colour that tends to calm anger. Water and the sky is always though of as a blue colour.


Yellow is next one we looked at, its communicated as a cheerful and comforting colour, has rather similar factors to an orange colour, but is essentially associated with youth and new life, Sun flowers and Marigold flowers are natural object that indicate a ‘new life’. Yellow is a positive colour and can either be advancing or diminished depending on the different shades of yellow. Overall yellow is described as a happy colour, a good example of this is Mr Happy in the book series Mr Men who is portrayed as a bright yellow circle colour. Yellow is also used amongst child and baby colours.


Green is certainly the most natural colour we looked at. its not as powerful as the likes of the main colours of red and blue. However green is one of the most seen colours, especially stepping in to a forest or a natural environment for that matter, trees and plants are a good example. I sometimes hear the colour green used in acting, certain actors refer to the green room as it can change your general mood to a neutral one. Looking at the different end of the scale, green can be associated with snot, slime and jealousy, different shades of green can effect the different ways its recognised.


Orange is a hot warm colour and works similar to the colour red. Orange is comforting colour, it can been seen on certain logos such as Easy Jet and Nickelodeon. Different shades of orange stimulate different moods, such as a lighter shade of orange has a more warm and soothing feel, unlike a darker orange (more closer to red) which gives of an invigorating and aggressive mood. As its an escalated colour its creates a certain affection. Fire is great example of the colour orange as it shares the same colours and characteristics.


Purple is the colour of least importance. Its blends with the jurisdiction of red and the spiritual significance of blue to generate a very powerful colour. Purple is very viewed as a wealthy colour, it can be seen used by royals and is occasionally a trivial colour used by pimps. Like blue, purple was rather expensive to create, hence why mainly wealthy people tend to wear the colour. Its obviously not as aggressive as red, but it’s rather seductive and tactile which is why its used amongst sex industry, the brand Durex is a great example.

Untitled-1  Untitled-2

The colour purple is seen as a luxurious colour, I decided to take this image of a Thorntons chocolate packaging, this particular chocolate is a rather expensive chocolate, hence why the purple colour has been used for the packaging. The second image is of a sophisticated expensive dress, its viewed as people who are only wealthy can afford the dress.

Untitled-3  lipstick

Film posters is a great example of of how colours communicate a meaning, for example the horror film Nightmare on Elm Street, is a perfect example, the red imagery portrays a rather intimidating and can make people feel fearful. The second image shows a women putting red lipstick on, as I know red is a seductive colour and is used amongst roses and sex, and as you can see above lipstick.

Untitled-1  Untitled-1  Untitled-1

Th colour blue is occasionally known as spiritual, and religious colour, one example i thought was good was inside this church, the blue colours visible throughout the image, blue is commonly related to heaven as well, hence the blue colour inside the church. Blue is an old, sad and mature colour, for example this film ‘Frozen River’ is a mature and upsetting film, its aimed more towards an older audience. The third image poster is another film, this one communicates with blue because its classed as a spiritual film.

Period Style and Architecture:

After looking at different forms and colours we moved onto looking at period style and architecture that are used to portray different meanings. We looked at the outside of different buildings such as the decor and interior. We also looked at different certain paintings throughout the period style, such as the Oath of the Horatii, and different lautrec paintings.


Baroque art and archtitecture, the visual arts, building design and construction produced during the era in the history western art that roughly coincides with the 17th century. Some of the qualities most frequently associated with the Baroque are grandeur, sensuous richness, drama, vitality, movement, tension, emotional exuberance, and a tendency to blur distinctions between the various arts.

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Looking more in to the architectural side of the baroque style, in the late 16th century Italy baroque was a devoted and melodramatic movement that celebrated the catholic state. Baroque was very theatrical and over the top and as it increased in reputation it was used more frequently in royal palaces to reflect the power and prosperity of the catholic churches around that time.


Above are some examples of a painting and photograph. The painting is more of a traditional baroque style, compared to the photograph on the right which is taken by Tim Bret Day is more of a modern baroque style.

There are also some adverts that include a baroque style, especially the Louis Vuitton advertisements which include a lot of the modern and traditional baroque style.


After looking at the baroque movement we moved on too the Rococo style. With the baroque movement still in full swing the french came up with rococo or otherwise known as the late baroque which occurred during the late 18th century in France. Aside from architecture, the Rococo movement also influenced painting, literature and theater. This style adored the intricate, the luxurious, and the romantic.


From the images, the ornate nature of Rococo decoration is clear, as is its prominent use of pastel colors, asymmetrical abstract design, and gold finishings.  Designs were floral and paintings focused on scenes of courtship & love especially in this this Fragonard piece. In the Rococo style, walls, ceilings, and moldings were decorated with delicate inter-lacings of curves and counter-curves based on the fundamental shapes of the “C” and the “S,” as well as with shell forms and other natural shapes. Asymmetrical design was the rule. Light pastels, ivory white, and gold were the predominant colours, and Rococo decorators frequently used mirrors to enhance the sense of open space. Some of the most famous architects of the time were Nicolai Eigtved, Germain Boffrand, and Philip De Lange. My favourite architect out of the three I found is Germain Boffrand, I don’t think his architecture was as over the top as the other. I’m not a massive fan of the rococo movement It doesn’t have the elegance and jurisdiction as baroque does.


The next movement we stumbled upon was Classical, classical architecture began with the ancient Greeks, and was developed and elaborated by the Romans. In its purest and most familiar form, it is expressed by the temple, an oblong enclosure fronted or surrounded by columns. For centuries, it was regarded as the key to beauty in building, and the best guide to true proportion. The term “classical architecture” also applies to any mode of architecture that has evolved to a highly refined state, such as classical Chinese architecture, or classical Mayan architecture. It can also refer to any architecture that employs classical aesthetic philosophy. The term might be used differently from traditional or vernacular architecture The things you would normally find in these types of buildings would be from the Neoclassical movement. Neoclassical is a western movement which is used in Visual arts, Literature, Music and Theatre.


The shift to neoclassical architecture is conventionally dated to the 1750s. It first gained influence in England and France; in England, Sir William Hamilton’s excavations at Pompeii and other sites, the influence of the Grand Tour and the work of William Chambers and Robert Adam, was pivotal in this regard. International neoclassical architecture was demonstrated in Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s buildings, especially the Old Museum in Berlin (pictured above), Sir John Soane’s Bank of England in London and the newly built White House and Capitol in Washington DC. This style has been derived in buildings such as Sheffield City Hall (which is pictured above), where buildings that were designed in the late 19th early 20th century can be seen to share similar components as the classical and neoclassic architecture as countless buildings are still existing as well as looking vigorous for thousands of years.


Painted in Rome in the style of Neoclassicism, Jacques Louis David’s Oath of the Horatii is one of the better known examples of art produced by this artist of diverse styles. This painting was hailed as the manifesto of a new school based on the fervent study of the antique and a return to classical techniques in the late 18th century. In this painting, completed in 1785, David integrates the growing and confused culture of the Neoclassical movement in a dramatic portrayal of the Horatii brothers swearing their allegiance to the state as their father stands with swords held high for them to grasp. Oath of the Horatii David clearly defines the type of subject matter and presentation that marks Neoclassicism by drawing on historical subjects from an artifact and painting them as a type of bas-relief with strong angular lines and theatrical poses. The image on the right is more of a modern outtake on Neoclassicism, it features a celebrities head on a Neoclassical painting.


Gothic architecture developed because of common architectural problems in Medieval times. Back in the 1100s-1200s, building skills were extremely limited. Stone castles were rudimentary – dark, cold, and damp. Gothic architecture tried to solve some of these unpleasant problems, and created light, pleasant and airy buildings. Before the gothic, architecture was functional. Now, architecture became beautiful.

Probably the most important form of Gothic architectural art was the stained glass window. Stained glass windows are closely tied to the architectural developments of Gothic cathedrals. Most of the innovations of Gothic architecture were developed for the very purpose of adding more stained glass windows to churches. Gothic architecture replaced the thick, dark walls of Romanesque cathedrals with thin, towering walls of coloured glass.

Tracery within an arched window 

The innovation of the pointed arch which was the defining internal characteristic of Gothic architecture. Its significance was both practical and decorative. The pointed arch effectively distributed the force of heavier ceilings and bulkier designs, and could support much more weight than previous, simple pillars. Earlier Romanesque churches had pointed arches, too, but builders didn’t capitalize on the shape.


The vaulted ceiling was an innovation which lead on from the achievements of the pointed arch.The arch also provided the impression of height and magnificence, giving the vaulted ceiling a feeling of grandeur and elegance.


More examples of of Gothic architecture…..

Notre-Dame de Reims –

Reims Kathedrale.jpg

Westminster Abbey –

The Abbey's western façade

Chartres Cathedral –

Art Nouveau:

Art Nouveau began in the 1900s, the style is often described as organic because it interprets nature and growth,the main temperaments of this style are use of curves and arches. The images below are of a building in Barcelona called Casa Batlló, and was designed by an architect called Antoni Gaudi, his intention in remodeling this house was to create a “paradise on Earth”. With barely a straight line in sight, Gaudí’s makeover provided Barcelona with one of it’s most enduring facades. Everything Gaudi design is identifiable as Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. The ground floor, in particular, has unusual tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work. Characteristics of this style such as curves and arches are used amongst this building design, especially on the roof.


Other examples below….

la Sagrada Familia                  Palau Güell                                                       Casa Amatller  


Advocates of Art Nouveau described it as a ‘total style’ and a ‘way of life’ — and people embraced it by bringing this decorative style into their households and supporting it in the fine arts as well. A great example of an Art Nouveu artist is Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, One of my favourite piece of art he created is At The Moulin Rouge (picture below). The oil canvas painting depicts the Moulin Rouge cabaret that opened in 1889. The painting that was created between 1892 and 1895 is a part of the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

At the Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Other examples of Lautrec’s work…..


Art Deco:

A style started in Paris that would eventually spread round the world – finding its way into the design of New York’s Chrysler and Empire State buildings as well as London Underground’s stations and posters. Indeed, the art deco style is brilliantly captured in the travel posters of the time which convey the early excitement of travel by rail, motorcar and boat. Art Deco emerged after the end of World War I hitting the heights of it’s popularity in the 1930’s and 40’s then declined after World War II. The style is often characterised by rich colours, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation.

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Modernism really took hold in Europe  where it became known as the international style and particularly in Germany, with the Bauhaus movement, and Italy. At a comparable time, England was caught up in the fashions of art deco, art nouveau and Edwardian style. It was not until after World War I that the influence of modernism really began to be felt.

Modernists believed that the design of an object should be based purely on its purpose that ‘form follows function’.


I particularly like the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Wright stood for the philosophy of “organic architecture,” which maintains that a building should develop out of its natural surroundings. His designs for both private and public structures were boldly original, and he rebelled against classic architecture and its traditional ornamentation.

The Boynton House. Photo courtesy Kim Bixler 

Another modernist artist I have come across is Peter Lanyon, I’ve choosen to show his work because its very simple and abstract, He was also one of the most important artists to emerge in post-war Britain. Despite his early death at the age of forty six he achieved a body of work that is amongst the most original and important reappraisals of modernism in painting to be found anywhere.


One of my favourite pieces of work he created is the Portleven abstract painting, This work exemplifies Lanyon’s idea of the ‘experiential landscape’, which involved approaching a place from different positions and combining these views with allusions to geology, history, culture and myth.


Arts and crafts:

The Arts and Crafts Movement began in Britain around 1880 and quickly spread to America, Europe and Japan. Inspired by the ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris, it advocated a revival of traditional handicrafts, a return to a simpler way of life and an improvement in the design of ordinary domestic objects.

I found an interesting paragraph about Morris and Ruskin on website, here’s the paragraph below…..

“The Arts and Crafts movement developed from the views of people such as William Morris (1834 – 1896). He was a poet and artist, who believed in a combination simplicity, good design and craft work. He believed that industrially manufactured items lacked the honesty of traditional craft work. His views and opinions were also supported by the artist / influential social intellectual, John Ruskin (1819 – 1900). As the movement grew in influence, architecture, furniture making and the decorative arts, such as interior design, started to display the simplicity and craft approach.”

  St. George Cabinet by William Morris, 1861/62, England, mahogany, pine and oak with copper mounts. Museum no. 341-1906, © Victoria & Albert Museum, London 

International Modernism:

In architecture, the term International style describes a type of design that developed mainly in Germany, Holland and France, during the 1920’s, before spreading to America in the 1930”s, where it became the dominant tendency in American architecture during the middle decades of the 20th century. Buildings in this style are characterised by straight lines and geometrical forms, with the use of metalwork, the extensive use of glass and cantilevered structural elements. rather similar to the Gothic movement tried to do.

One of the finest examples of the International Style in Britain is the Isokon Building in Hampstead, London. The Isokon Building is a four storey block designed by Wells Coates and built between 1933 and 1934. Constructed of concrete and painted white, the use of strong, geometric lines and cantilevered elements is indicative of the International Style.

The first International style house has a flat roof with a ledge and no decorative trim. The windows are set flush with walls, and the entrance is asymmetrical. The second building below was designed by Richard Neutra in Los Angeles in 1929, the Lovell House conveys clean lines and was said to have started a new race of buildings. It also has a flat roof and bands of glass windows.

VillaSavoye  1295446209-lovell-house

Post Modernism:

Postmodern style became a movement in the late 1970s and continues to influence present day architecture. It brought a radical freedom to art and design through gestures that were often funny, sometimes confrontational and occasionally absurd. Most of all, over the course of two decades, from about 1970 to 1990, postmodernism brought a new self-awareness about style itself.


Some Post Modern designers were inspired by the torn paper collage approach combined with, loose, spontaneous brush stroked used and other music promotions. The second poster is designed by Barbara Kruger, this is showing the use of overlapping bars with reverse lapping bars, this makes the book cover look post modern. Another example of a post modern poster is the 1984 olympics one design by Debra Sussman, its an intuitive collage approach wit odd combinations and random textures which make this a more classic poster modern poster.


Above are some examples of Post modern buildings and architecture, most of these buildings have been designed by Frank Gehry, who is a very famous architecture Gehry’s best-known works include the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Gehry is widely known across the world for his post modern building creations.

Popular Culture:


Semiotics is the study of signs and sign processes, indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication. For example Range Rovers show a sign that you’ve got money, and possibly the person who owns it lives in a rural area. Another example would be people with nice gardens, older people and pensioners tend to to take care of their garden better than a house full of students, who always busy. Semiotics can translate a picture from an image into words. Visual communication terms and theories come from linguistics, the study of language, and from semiotics, the science of signs. Signs take the form of words, images, sounds, and flavours, acts or objects, but such things have no natural meaning and become signs only when we provide them with meaning.

But it is not quite that simple. Every sign has or is a signifier that implies or suggests the signified. These signs are all around us, every day. A sign can be a word, a sound, an image, nearly anything we can perceive. From these signs we get meanings, perhaps cultural, perhaps personal. We can be manipulated by signs, such as with advertising, or entertained by signs, such as with art, or poetry. Semiotics is a science that can be applied to literature, art, advertising, everyday speech, and non-verbal communications.

A good example would be films, and TV Programs, films such as Kidulthood and The Inbetweeners you could say are aimed more at the more older teenagers, and the likes of Psycho and Schindler’s List are aimed at more older people. TV programs are particularly good example because programs houses and game shows like countdown are usually shown during the daytime, because older people are more likely to watch them, also the news and more children’s programs come on later in the evening because that when children and middle aged people come back from work. Also children’s programs and news programs always televise in a morning because that when people are going to work or in education. Dark and scary films is another example, these types of films are usually shown around a late night when young children are in bed.


Photography and Paintings:

The next lecture we had was on Photography and Paintings. I am going to look at how different artists and photographers combine the two together.

One of the first photographers we were introduced to is Tom Hunter. I personally think tom is different from other photographers, basing his photography on existing meaningful paintings but applying them to more recent occurences to create something that emulates the original but in a way that is significant today.


This painting named “The Hireling Shepherd” is an 1851 painting by William Holman Holt. As you can see The Shepherd  being distracted by this woman which in turn is letting his sheep wander. The sheep is also seen walking into a corn field in the right hand corner, this would kill an animal with no ability to throw up raw corn which in this case the sheep could be killed. The is in fact a criticism of the church. It symbolises the church hierarchy talking about latin lines, through the man showing the woman a butterfly, when they should be caring for the flock, some of whom are going astray. Whilst the painting looks very natural and romantic the deeper more ominous meaning behind it really makes it a enduring piece.


Tom Hunter replicates the painting in a modern style photograph. As I stated earlier Tom Hunter creates replicas of old paintings using modern day issues/occurrences. I think this photo is easier to understand than the painting. The man is approaching the woman trying to entice her with a cigarette and although she looks to be unconvinced or slightly impartial the fact that she is playing with her hair would say otherwise. The type of clothing would suggest that these two people are ‘hippies’ concerned with saving the planet, however in the background it shows there is a power plant/pylons. Suggesting that in fact they have not been paying attention to the environment. This shows how Tom hunter has linked the two images together and brought his work in to the present day.

Ophelia 1851-2 by Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896  35

Here is another example of this is Ophelia, which was painted by John Everett Millais, The scene depicted is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which Ophelia, driven out of her mind when her father is murdered by her lover Hamlet, drowns herself in a stream. Tom Hunter photographs this scene in a modern setting calling it ‘The Way Home’. I’d never really heard of Tom Hunter before, but on first appearance I really like his photography, even though it doesn’t look the most appealing. I love the concept behind his photography Im not really one these arty party people but his photography just seems to impress me. I personally think The Way Home is one of his strongest concepts. His inspiration comes from headlines, he then tries create the feelings of the headline using the template of a traditional painting.

hiroshi-sugimoto-lightning-fields-236  pl_arts_sugimoto5_f  lightningfields119_2009-574x716

When researching I come across a photographer called Hiroshi Sugimoto. Hiroshi created Lightning Fields which is a series of dramatic and spectacular photographs produced through the play of violent electrical discharges on photographic film. Placing the film directly on a metal plate in the darkroom, Sugimoto charged a a Van de Graaff Generator, releasing 100,000 volts via a metal rod. Despite not having any meaning behind the photographs, the thing that interests me the most is the different methods people use to make there photographs look quirky and unique.


lastsupper_spoof18  Lego-Last-Supper-e1359559029404

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the most famous paintings in the world that has been recreated/imitated by a lot of different artists or people. This style of work is called Pastiche. A pastiche is a work of visual art, literature, theatre, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists. Unlike parody, pastiche celebrates, rather than mocks, the work it imitates. Above are two examples of parodies, the first one a section of different clowns, and the second one a lego star wars theme. Here is a link below looking more in to The Last Supper.


When we were introduced to some paintings to look at we come across a painting called “The swing” by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. The image shows the young nobleman is not only getting an interesting view up the lady’s skirt, but she is being pushed into this position by her priest-lover, shown in the rear. It is a conspiracy of the two lovers whose flirtatious little game goes not only unnoticed by the old man, but where he is in fact an active participant in this concealed peep show. Furthermore, the painting is filled with symbolism. In the 18th century France, a woman’s shoeless foot symbolised nudity, as did the man’s uncovered head and his hat, reaching towards the young girl’s parted legs. The two cherubs behind suggest she is no angel and has turned her back on being good.

Aesthetic Theories

This lecture was all about Aesthetic Theories, Aesthetic Theories is all about how do we judge whether what we’re doing is any good.

We come across one idea in our lecture which is Intentionalism, ‘does the it do what the creator wanted it to do.’ a good definition for intentionalism is “Intentionalism in aesthetics is, quite generally, the thesis that the artist’s or artists’ intentions have a decisive role in the creation of a work of art, and that knowledge of such intentions is a necessary component of at least some adequate interpretive and evaluative claims.” A great example of this is the Chelsea Flower show, which gets judged on what the intention is about.or in this case what the intention of the garden is.

screen-shot-2014-05-20-at-07-27-40  Chelsea-Show

Another one is Formalism, In art history, formalism is the study of art by analyzing and comparing form and style—the way objects are made and their purely visual aspects. Linking Formalism with Photography, Art and Graphic Design, I would look at depth of field, colour form, and rhythm harmony, and even the likes of composition, hierarchy, type and layout.

The last one is Interventionism, Art intervention is an interaction with a previously existing artwork, audience, venue/space or situation. It has the auspice of conceptual art and is commonly a form of performance art. It is associated with the Viennese Actionists, the Dada movement and Neo-Dadaists. It has also been made much use of by the Stuckists to affect perceptions of other artwork which they oppose, and as a protest against an existing intervention. ‘Its not what it looks like its what it does’ a fantastic example of this is the Benton campaign, which is a clothing company who are recognised for their disturbing poster advertsiments. Another good example is the Rebel Clown Army who are anti-authoritarian left-wing activist group that uses clowning and non-violent tactics to act against corporate globalisation, war, and on other issues.

benetton-advertisment-showing-new-diaporama  benetton2

Clown_Army_erschreckt_Polizisten  keynote-pic-2

Another great example is the Iraq torture image. This image shocked the world when it was released during the height of the Iraq war in 2004. It was one of a handful that depicted the torture of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of US Army personnel in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. This was an unintentional act as it wasn’t meant to be seen around the world.


Personal Approach – Colour

For my topic choice for contextual studies I have decided to choose colour. I have always been interested in colour, Colour is used throughout near enough everything. Also colour is an element of visual language that people process before they are consciously aware of it.

Earliest Times of Colour

The ancient Egyptians have been recorded to have been using colour for cures and ailments.They worshipped the sun, knowing that without light there can be no life. They looked at nature and copied it in many aspects of their lives. The floors of their temples were often green as the grass which then grew alongside their river, which is the Nile. Blue was a very important colour to the Egyptians too; the colour of the sky. They built temples for healing and used gems (crystals) through which the sunlight shone. They would have different rooms for different colours. We could perhaps relate our present methods of colour/light therapy to this ancient practice.

ancient-egyptians-used-colo-2  colourbandFG0FGFGFG

Early Colour Studies

Some of the early colour studies and theories about light were done by Aristotle.He discovered that by mixing two colours, a third is produced. He did this with a yellow and blue piece of glass, which when brought together produced green. He also discovered that light travels in waves.

images  aristotleoncolor

Sir Isaac Newton

A pioneer in the field of colour, Isaac Newton in 1672, published his first, controversial paper on colour, and forty years later, his work ‘Opticks’.Newton passed a beam of sunlight through a prism. When the light came out of the prism is was not white but was of seven different colours: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. The spreading into rays was called dispersion by Newton and he called the different coloured rays the spectrum. He learnt that when the light rays were passed again through a prism the rays turned back into white light. If only one ray was passed through the prism it would come out the same colour as it went in. Newton concluded that white light was made up of seven different coloured rays.

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Colour Theory

Colour theory encompasses a multiple of definitions, concepts and design applications. However, there are three basic categories of colour theory that are logical and useful. The colour wheel, colour harmony, and the context of how colours are used.

The Colour Wheel –

A color circle, based on red, yellow and blue, is traditional in the field of art. As I stated earlier ‘Sir Isaac Newton’ developed the first circular diagram of colours in 1666. Since then, scientists and artists have studied and designed numerous variations of this concept. Differences of opinion about the effectivness of one format over another continue to provoke debate. In reality, any colour circle or color wheel which presents a logically arranged sequence of pure hues has merit.

There are also definitions of colours based on the colour wheel.


Primary Colours: Red, yellow and blue
In traditional colour theory, primary colours are the 3 pigment colours that can not be mixed or formed by any combination of other colours. All other colours are derived from these 3 hues.

Secondary Colours: Green, orange and purple

These are the colors formed by mixing the primary colours.

Tertiary Colours: Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green
These are the colours formed by mixing a primary and a secondary colour. That’s why the hue is a two word name, such as blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange.

Colour Harmony –

Harmony can be defined as a pleasing arrangement of parts, whether it be music, poetry, colour, or even an ice cream sundae.

In visual experiences, harmony is something that is gratifying to the eye. It engages the viewer and it creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience. When something is not harmonious, it’s either dull or turbulent. At one extreme is a visual experience that is so insipid that the viewer is not engaged. The human brain will reject under-stimulating information. At the other extreme is a visual experience that is so overdone, so chaotic that the viewer can’t stand to look at it. The human brain rejects what it can not organise, what it can not understand. The visual task requires that we present a logical structure. Colour harmony delivers visual interest and a sense of order.

Here are some formulas for colour harmony….


A color scheme based on corresponding colours. Corresponding colors are any three colors which are side by side on a 12 part color wheel, such as yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange. Normally one of the three colors predominates.


A color scheme based on complementary colours. Complementary colors are any two colors which are directly opposite each other, such as red and purple and orange and green and yellow-green. In the illustration above, there are several variations of yellow-green in the leaves and several variations of red and purple in the orchid. These opposing colors create maximum contrast and maximum stability.


A color scheme based on nature. Nature provides a perfect departure point for colour harmony. In the illustration above, red yellow and green create a harmonious design, regardless of whether this combination fits into a technical formula for colour harmony.

Colour Context 

How color behaves in relation to other colors and shapes is a complex area of colour theory.
Different readings of the same colour


If your computer has sufficient colour stability and gamma correction you will see that the small purple rectangle on the left appears to have a red-purple tinge when compared to the small purple rectangle on the right. They are both the same colour as seen in the illustration below. This demonstrates how three colors can be perceived as four colours.


Observing the effects colours have on each other is the starting point for understanding the relativity of colour. The relationship of values, saturations and the warmth or coolness of respective hues can cause noticeable differences in our perception of colour.

James Turrell –

An artist who specifies some of his work amongst colour is James Turrell who is an American artist primarily concerned with Light, space and colour. In the 1960s, by manipulating light rather than paint or sculptural material, James Turrell introduced an art that was not an object but an experience in perception.

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His best piece of artwork in my opinion is ‘the colour inside’ Skyscape. The reason I like the colour inside Skyspace the best is because it focuses on colour the most. During sunset and sunrise, coloured lights illuminate the walls and contrast the natural skylight. This effects the way we see the sky and different produces, the experience of James Turrells art.

The colour inside is the eighty forth skycap designed by James Turrell, and one of twelve to open to the public in the United States. Each Skyspace is different and not all have the light sequences at sunrise and sunset.

Alberto Seveso

Alberto Seveso is an Italian artist specialising in illustration, graphic design and photography. Born in Milan, Seveso currently lives and works as a freelance artst from his hometown of Portoscuso, Sardinia, Italy. Alberto’s artistic passion grew from an early fascination with skateboard deck graphics and album artwork for metal bands. He has since developed his own unique style which you can explore on his personal website as well as Behance, where his projects have garnered almost 1.3 million views. In his ongoing exploration with high-speed photography and colour, Seveso drops plumes of various inks into water, capturing the organic shapes that form with a high-speed camera. The results are breathtaking and the ongoing series continues to amaze.

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Alberto also creates his own slow motion videos. In my opinion I think think what Alberto does is really create and out of the box, I love the different colour tones that have been merged and mixed together, I think each one of his designs give a really powerful tonal variated effect amongst his designs. This is the type of method I could possibly use in the future.

Here are two more Ink in water videos…

Below is my attempt at making one, this is a video I created similar to the ones above, obviously the quality isn’t great because I had a poor camera. But overall I am very happy with how the video has turned out.

This link shows a PDF of my presentation. Contextual Studies << Colour Presentation

I love how I’ve been inspired by an artist who experiments with colour, I think my video is a great answer to my personal approach, I mean you can do anything with colour, but I thought it would be more interesting to use this technique. Benefiting from this I have learned a few new skills, such as iMovie, and how to use a Nikon 300 camera. Overall I found Colour very alluring, its an area of graphics I will always be interested in.


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