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Shape is the enclosed space of line or color.

The shape of something tells us what it is. The eye tends to follow the outside of a shape, and we can tell what a subject is based entirely on the outside shape (think of sillouettes). Shapes with smooth edges will tend to grab your eye and your eye will follow the edge. This is a feature that can be used to lead the viewer's eye around a composition. Smooth edges on shapes feel calm, modern, man-made and controlled. Ragged edges stop the eye, create texture and cause the shape to blend in with the background. Ragged edges have energy and feel old, natural, and exciting.

Shapes can be positive (the actual thing that is drawn) or negative (the outside shape, or interior empty spaces, like the hole of a donut). Overlapping shapes can create the illusion of space and depth in your art.

Shapes have weight and their weight depends on their size, color, and value. Large, bright, hot colored shapes will grab the eye and pop forward. Small, dull, dark, cool-colored shapes will recede. Use this feature to arrange your composition and determine your focal point.

Here are two works by a Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhaze. Look at how the shapes repeat in composition, creating unity. Yet, she varies the color and texture inside the shapes. Color is used to unify the busy composition by how she places the color across the piece to lead your eye around the space. The shapes overlap and are of difference sizes, creating depth to the artwork.


         Alice Taylor, Instructor .:. school email.:. 254-336-0800 .:. © 2010. ver2