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Chapter 11 Summary—English

Variety, Emphasis, Harmony, and Unity

Lesson 1: Variety, Emphasis, and Harmony
For an artwork to be successful, it should have variety, emphasis, and harmony. Variety is the principle of art concerned with difference or contrast. When a certain element predominates in a design, contrasting elements can be added. Another way to add variety is by adding emphasis. Emphasis is the principle of art that makes one part of a work dominant over the other parts. A focal point is the first part of a work to attract the attention of the viewer. An artist may choose to emphasize one element of a work. He or she may also choose to emphasize a specific area of a work, creating a focal point that attracts the viewer’s attention. There are five main techniques that artists use to create focal points: contrast, isolation, location, convergence, and the unusual. Artists must also strive for harmony. Harmony is the principle of art that creates unity by stressing the similarities of separate but related parts. Color can produce harmony as can repetitions of related shapes. Even space can create harmony when the spaces between shapes in an artwork are uniform.

Lesson 2: Unity
The final principle of art is unity, a quality of wholeness or oneness that is achieved through the effective use of the elements and principles of art. To create unity, an artist adjusts the parts of a work so they relate to one another and to the whole work. For example, a potter adjusts decorations on a bowl to complement the bowl’s shape, size, and purpose. Another way to create unity is through simplicity. By limiting the number of variations of an element, a design will seem more unified. Repetition of objects and elements is also an effective way to create unity. In a work where there are many different objects, the same elements can be used to represent them. Architects repeat the materials and textures of their buildings’ surroundings to create unity. Proximity, or closeness, is another way of unifying shapes in work. Limiting the negative space between unlike objects, and adding an area of negative space around a cluster of objects, suggests coherence. Artists must be careful to balance variety and emphasis with harmony and unity. Otherwise, the principles can destroy the unity of a visual work.


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