Theory and Practice



The end result of the Connectivity project is to merge several individual designs by different students into one, comprehensive and complimentary composition. The beauty of this project, however, lies in its process of problem solving and creation of visual metaphors.


Brainstorming Letter to Future Self [Giampa]

By writing a letter to your future self, approximately five years into the future, you will be compiling ideas that can be categorized within personal, inter-personal and sociocultural classifications. Think of this process as the Case side of a Case In Point exercise.

Some questions to consider while deciding what you would say to your future self may include the following:

  • How would you like to see yourself in the future, personally, in your career, in your relationships with others?
  • What dreams and goals would you like to have accomplished or be actively working toward by then?
  • What status would you like to have achieved your education, career or personal life at that time?
  • Consider your career and business goals, education and studies, finances, family, love, friends, health, spirituality, recreation, personal growth and community contributions.

Letter to Danny

Dear Danny, I hope you’re doing well by now. It’s been five years since you’ve heard from me, as I am the old you, the past you, the part of you you’ve grown away from – and rightly so! Although I will always be a part of you, a path you had to tread to become the person that you now are, you should never look back or return to what I am. The new you is who you were meant to be and I hope this letter finds you healing.

I expect you’re healing and thriving by now. I’m glad you’ve learned some lessons, although it took you quite a while to do so, and I hope that your plan of forgiveness is working hard in your life – to those who have hurt you and, more importantly, to yourself.

You will have attended Tiffany’s college graduation by now. I can feel how proud you are of her and Téa, who is now attending the college of her choice. You have been so blessed to have two such wonderful girls! I guess you’ve done a couple of things right!

It’s been a while, so I hope you’re treating that woman right. She’s a queen and deserves to be treated as such! Give her what she needs, it isn’t difficult: your undivided attention, your overflowing love, and your never-ending respect. Honor her devotion to you with unfaltering devotion to her! She is your friend, your lover, your heart and your soul; and if you ever take her for granted, if you ever forget why you belong together, if you ever cease to acknowledge how much you cherish her, you will find her beyond your grasp and only by the grace of God will she return to your undeserving arms.

You should be moving your career closer to a design oriented vocation of which you’ve always enjoyed. I’m sure you’re still working with the same employer, as you’ve finally found a job you could call a career along with a group of people you can call friends out of the office and mentors within your field. You decided long ago that your education would never be complete, so I expect you are still attending classes, learning new technologies, development processes and design techniques.

As your wonderful daughters have started new paths of their own and have left the nest, so to speak, I hope that your plan of maintaining a safe and secure home and keeping plenty of room for them to visit anytime they wish and are able while living their busy, successful lives. I’m sure that no matter where you are right now they will be welcome but I know you desperately wanted to keep their rooms ready and waiting for them, and to that end, I hope you have gotten your wish. By now you should also be visiting your mother more often and spending time with family since I know you have finally realized the importance of family. There really is nothing more important in life and it took you much too long to appreciate this simple fact.

Lastly, and I know I’ve rambled on, I know that you have now become a kinder, gentler human being who is known by friends, family and strangers for his generosity and friendliness. You are now helping as many people as you can and you will always have a warm smile for everyone you meet. You are now what you always should have been and anyone that takes a chance on being in your life will be all the better for the experience.

Congratulations, Danny! You’ve finally grown up and taken responsibility for your actions and how you live your life affects others. Now – and better late than never – the world is a better place because you are a part of it.

Awareness Categorization [Giampa]

Using your letter as a guide, make a list of at least 15 to 45 adjectives, nouns, phrases and ideas that describe you in the three categories previously mentioned:

  1. Personal – the persisting entities particular to a given individual.
  2. Inter-personal – strong, deep, or close association/acquaintance between two or more people who may range in duration from brief to enduring.
  3. Sociocultural – immediate physical and social setting in which people live or in which something happens or develops. It includes the culture in which that individual was educated or lives, and the people and institutions with whom they interact.

Then choose the top 3 to 9 words, phrases or ideas that resonate with you or describe you.


Funneling Down [Giampa]

The next step in finding your subject, the essence of your design, is to identify the most important words, phrases and idea’s that made it into your three categories. Pick one from each classification or, if none of the listed items in a certain group stand out to you, choose a total of three words that mean the most to you, reflect you or jump out as your greatest significant ideas. Place these three words in their own bubbles.

Funneling Down

Now, simply choose the word that stands out above the other two and place it in a fourth bubble. Congratulations! You’ve just funneled down your ideas to a “nugget of truth”. This will be the basis of the following steps of this assignment which will continue its development resulting in your preliminary image you’ll be joining with your peers in the connectivity project.

Funneling Up [Giampa]

After your ideas are funneled down to a point, the “nugget” gets expanded upon. This is the funneling up process and consists of a series of questions based on the five senses. Once this sensory map is completed, you will be able to find your visual metaphor within the group of words produced from this exercise.

There are two ways of looking at your newly discovered subject and they are explored by looking at this idea from both the left and right side of your brain. In other words, “To Be” or “Not To Be”; to become or not to become. By utilizing the left side of your brain you will observe the idea from the outside in an analytical and objective fashion; alternatively, when you become the idea and employ an emotional, intuitive and subjective perspective, you are using the right side of your brain.

Left & Right Brain

Begin with the “Not To Be” questions and analyze your idea, your subject. Observe it and describe it. To answer the “To Be” questions, close your eyes and experience the sensations as you empathize with your idea and become your subject.

Healing Sensory Map [Giampa]

Dan’s Healing is fragile. It is delicate and brittle. It must be handled with care or the frail process will shatter and begin again. It has a distasteful aroma, a fragrance of pain and loss but beneath is a sweet, new beginning. The mixture creates a nauseating, honeyed bouquet that only time will amend as the stagnate stench of agony is replaced with the fresh breeze of forgiveness. Dan’s Healing is a bitter pill to swallow, a constant effort to chew and digest. The process can be neither quick nor easy and every bite of selfishness must be crushed, every drop of pride must be swallowed, before the healing can taste pleasant and the nectar of happiness can be relished once again. It sounds like a whimpering child and it grates upon the soul, but ever so slowly, the sobbing and groaning morph into a strong, resilient voice that will someday lead others through the darkness of pain into the light of grace. Dan’s Healing is sensitive and profound. It must be respected and cherished for the path is long and hard but the implications are great and humbling. It begins as a tender, raw, exposed wound but will grow into an affectionate, durable, everlasting strength that can and will be shared with anyone willing to journey along the long road of recovery to acceptance and peace.

Sensory Map Summary

I am Dan’s Healing. I see darkness all around me. I am afraid and alone but I am also determined to find my way to the light and goodness within him. I smell decay all around me. The pain he has caused others penetrates my nostrils and assaults me at every turn but as he accepts his wrong doings, as he admits his place in the world to date and consciously decides to change, I can feel the reek lift, little by little, until a hint of sweet growth, a bit of fragrant hope exists and one day the decay will be no more. I taste the poison within his life, the self-inflicted hurt, the sabotage to his happiness that has been created by him and him alone. As I expel this poison from his soul and cleanse his palate, the beauty of life and love will once again grace his appetite. I can hear regret all around me. It saturates the air he breathes and encompasses every sound that meets his ears. It embodies the voices within his head but I also hear his acceptance, he has taken responsibility for his actions and his words and his place in this world and as he moves forward upon a new path of peace and love the regret will not hold him back or stand in his way, but rather give him strength to share that love and peace with a well-deserving world. I am Dan’s Healing and I can feel the forgiveness. Forgiveness for others, offered to those who have hurt him, freely and without obligation. Most importantly, forgiveness for himself, for the him he used to be, for the him he vows to never be again. I am Dan’s Healing and I will never leave him, I will never falter and I will save him.Visual Metaphor

To complete the final steps toward your visual metaphor, the above sensory summary words are included into two overlapping bubbles to combine the left and right side of the brain into one, singular, comprehensive idea that will become your project’s subject.

Visual Metaphor

Sometimes, after the combination occurs, a clear idea does not present itself in a tangible, concrete subject that is easily depicted visually. To avoid this situation, nouns and adjectives are the best sensory words to utilize during the mapping stages; however, a group discussion about how your classmates perceive you and your sensory summary may produce very interesting results.

Visual Metaphor Interpretations

After reviewing these suggestions, along with the thought of a fragile, broken heart made of glass – shattered but bonded back together – the idea of a Mosaic Tome was decided upon.

Group Planning

Once a design is decided upon, a brief discussion with your classmates is needed to plan your intended connection between the projects. After your individual projects are almost completed, you will reconvene to combine your projects into one final composition.

Danny & the Veronicas

By combining three design ideas without actually starting the individual designs, we came up with the preliminary concept of joining the Mosaic Tome with Cotton Flowers and Balloon Wave. To begin, some initial concepts were discussed about composition drafts and how they might be merged.

Preliminary ConceptComposition Draft

Individual Design

To begin the Mosaic Tome piece, I first sketched the initial book on a pedestal concept on notebook paper during the group discussion. Later, I reproduced the idea in my sketchbook with a little more detail. Both sketches included a pedestal, book and shattered glass; however, in the second rough, the heart within the book transformed from a literal heart on the books pages to a symbolic heart hovering above the tome. In the second version, an arch of vines was added along with a cobblestone walkway and the type of pedestal was changed.

Sketch OneSketch Two

The pedestal, book and heart were then sketched to a size appropriate for the final design. Combined with a shattered glass image, the entire effect was transferred to tracing paper. By adjusting the placement of each shard of glass and the image contained within, the transferred segments produce the effect of the tome, heart and pedestal being viewed through the broken slivers while movement is simultaneously produced by creating the illusion that the image may still be in the process of shattering.

Pedestal Book & HeartShattered Transfer

Next, an arch of vines was added as a foreground element and each of the original four vines was slightly defined to prepare for the inclusion of the Cotton Flowers design that would merge from the left border and eventually scatter throughout the vines, diminishing in quantity until only a couple culminated on the right side of the arch.

Transferred SegmentsArch of Vines
Defining VinesVines

The cobblestone path was added to increase the sense of depth and divide the background and foreground areas of the composition. The shards of broken glass were then defined, the heart shaded and given dimensionality and definition was added to the pedestal, tome and cobblestones.

Cobblestone PathDefining Shards
ShadingCobblestone Dimensionality

The bottom cobblestones were left unfinished purposely to allow the Balloon Wave composition to morph between the designs. Lastly, kneaded and white erasers were utilized to clean up the edges, shards of glass and between the cobblestones. A tortillon, or blending stump, was used to smudge the areas behind the glass where there were no additional objects to intensify the contrast between areas.

Smudging & BlendingCleaned Up
Mosaic Tome

Group Assembly

Once the three compositions were brought together, the connectivity could begin. From the bottom-left of Mosaic Tome, the cobblestones were intended to morph into balloons existing in the top-right of Balloon Wave. From the top-left of Balloon Wave, the balloons were envisioned to morph into flowers prevalent within Cotton Flowers. From the right border of Cotton Flowers, said flowers were proposed to intertwine into the vines of Mosaic Tome.

Some preliminary sketches had been produced to visualize the basic idea developed by the group discussion on the connectivity aspect of the project.

Cotton Flowers SketchMosaic Tome Sketch
Balloon Wave Sketch

After beginning our initial plan of connecting the images as described above, Dr. Giampa was concerned with our lack of interconnection, both within our images and, perhaps more importantly, within our theme. By taking a step back and examining our original composition proposal and then taking a further stride within our project to determine our philosophical, emotional connection, we discovered that there were many levels of personality present. While our intention had been to depict friendship and the ability for different people with diverse ideas and varied interests to develop a bond that transcends commonalities and grows based on mutual respect and kindness, what we discovered went much deeper. Balloon Wave reflected a celebration of life and acceptance of ones innate personality traits and grounded the piece with strong, bold images; Cotton Flowers depicted a person’s contentedness, joy and happiness in a carefree, light and airy feel – free from overwhelming detail and complexity; alternatively, Mosaic Tome brought the work a darker depth by portraying the fragile emotions buried within the human heart while simultaneously representing our natural instinct to survive, heal and even thrive under tremendous stress and through horrendous trials. Instead of signifying how different people can become friends, the overall composition revealed that all of those traits lived within all of us and that fact alone may be why friendship and love is able to exist under any circumstances.

By consciously letting go of our individuality and allowing each other to dive into each separate image, we combined and connected and developed each other’s designs into a singular, comprehensive and complimentary composition.

Depth of Soul
Depth of Soul

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Visual Metaphor Mapping courtesy of Giampa, J. (2012). 
A conceptual tool for mapping visual metaphor.  (Doctoral dissertation).



The bio-toy project was designed to allow a student to create a three-dimensional work of art based on the limited impressions of another student’s autobiography.

The toy should not be bought. Any safe materials may be used to create the toy and resources or small objects may be purchased to complete the design. Creativity is highly encouraged.

Each student’s autobiography will be written in class, within a short, 15 to 20 minute time-frame. The statement should be two or three paragraphs, including some background information, likes and dislikes and future plans of desired places to go or things to do.


There’s a wolf spider living in the corner of my house. Whenever I draw near, she scuttles into the cracks of the siding and waits until I’m gone. I think we tend to get along well, if only because we have some things in common. Wolf spiders are the shyest of their species – they dislike being around others and will often escape quickly when approached. It’s like they have a social phobia. Oh, I’m familiar with that, more than I’d like to be. Spiders are wonderful creatures and I love them. I’ve often adored many things that others tend to fear. I sometimes consider myself a spider. Crafting an intricate web of a strong façade, a mask, and lying in wait, hiding in the corners, hoping a nice little fly may come to pay me a visit.

Of course, unlike the spider, I won’t wrap you up and save you for dinner.

Inspiration & Research

This autobiography instantly brought to mind a mask, both metaphorical and literal. I was torn between a couple of options for creating a mask of which my recipient could hide behind, remove or even a little of both. If I included a full mask with a securing band it may suggest that wearing the mask was preferable to facing your fears. A half-mask was strongly considered as its properties of only concealing a portion of the wearer’s face could suggest a partial hiding away or merely hiding from some fears, while facing others. I chose a full mask with no binding ties to indicate that, when needed, the mask could be worn for safety or avoidance but only temporarily. This mask would need to be consciously worn and would take effort, hopefully encouraging the wearer to wear it less as fears were faced and trials overcome. It would always be available, however, on those occasions when everything seemed too much and a shelter was required. With any luck, one day the mask would hang on a wall and be a gentle reminder of the strength the recipient would eventually find by both wearing the mask and, more importantly, removing it.

Obviously, the mask needed to resemble a wolf spider and there are many versions: some ugly and scary, some cute and fuzzy, some seem large and menacing while others are small and unassuming. I chose to go with soft and cuddly selection, even if no one would truly want to embrace a spider, a stuffed animal version came to mind. I gathered a few pictures of the variety I was interested in replicating from a couple of angles to visualize some aspects of the spider I wanted to incorporate into my design: legs, eyes, pelt, etc.

Wolf Spider 1Wolf Spider 2
Wolf Spider 3Wolf Spider 4

Creation Process

SuppliesI began by gathering supplies. I already owned some pipe-cleaners and pom-poms and a flimsy mask template but I knew I needed quite a few more things to complete the project. While browsing a craft store for additional materials, I ran across a perfect sample of fur in the fabric department and nearby I acquired a sturdy, hardier mask of paper-mâché. I knew I’d like to find a material to cover the eyes of the mask that was still transparent enough to see through so the mask would be functional, even though it was being designed as a decorative item. I searched for a stretchy, nylon material but was unsuccessful in finding something appropriate; but as I looked, I found a string of beads that would suite nicely for the eyes of the spider. A quick trip to a nearby fabric store presented me with a thin, mesh material that I felt could be layered until it was dark enough to provide the desired effect.

Mesh MaterialFirst, I needed to cover the mask with several layers of the mesh material to ensure the eye socket effect was produced. I cut my fabric into four equal squares, appropriately sized to encompass the entire surface of the mask. Next, I used rubber cement to affix each layer tightly across the eyes and pulled taut from the forehead to the chin.


Layer 1Layer 2
Layer 3
Layer 4

The legs were my next challenge. I wanted them to be flexible and pliable but they also needed to compliment the design and form of my project. To accomplish this feat, I combined four pipe-cleaners in a twisting fashion for each leg and then covered each leg in the pelt of fur I planned on utilizing for the majority of the face. I used rubber cement to fasten the pelt around the pipe-cleaners and secured them with binder clips until they dried, at which time I cut the excess material from each spider leg.

Pipe Cleaner LegsPelt Cover

Spider Eyes


I attached the eyes to the mask before any additional material was added. Trying rubber cement and fabric glue didn’t effectively fasten the beads permanently to the mesh material so super glue was needed to finally secure the spider’s eyes. Four large beads were used to mimic the images of the spiders I had selected, one pair near the mask’s eye sockets and another pair higher on the head. Four smaller eyes were added, two under each eye socket, to complete the effect.


Final ConstructionThe last stage of construction required covering the majority of the face of the mask with fur while simultaneously, attaching the legs to the outer edges of the piece. I added patches of the pelt, carefully trimmed to fit around the eyes, down the center of the mask. Each leg was attached to the sides of the mask by cutting a slit in the material with an X-acto knife, running the end of the pipe-cleaners through the hole and gluing the opened ends on the inside of the mask. A black pom-pom was added to each leg, effectively capping the leg and providing a simulated foot. The remaining exposed areas of the mask were subsequently covered with pelt as appropriate. Two brown pom-poms were included near the mouth area to resemble mandibles. As a final, compositional effect, the legs were adjusted into appropriate positions.

Wolf Spider Mask
Wolf Spider Mask

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Behind the Mask

She hid her face and turned away
A timid grin and gentle blush
Belied the strength behind her gaze
And power in her tender touch

She veiled her heart and built her walls
Of solitude and privacy
But deep within her secret lair
Longed a beast of dynasty

Her gates stood tall, her fences strong
A guise of faintness worn with pride
Controlling dread thru dominance
Negating what she’d cast aside

Her fear unfounded left me cold
I wondered but I dared not ask
Of beauty she refused to see
Concealed so far behind the mask

Then I saw plainly what she veiled
A smile shielding darker pain
A laugh, a shrug, a careful glance
I knew it well, it knew my name

The walls of shielding built by hands
Who hurt and bleed and scarred from years
Of giving, loving, taking naught
But disdain and forgotten tears

Her fright familiar, left me cold
Still I wondered but could not ask
Of beauty she refused to show
Concealed so far behind the mask

I viewed her mirror and what I saw
Was bold and true, divine and grave
Fierce and daring, gracious, strong
Loving, epic, pretty, brave

While I looked on, it warmed my soul
There was no longer need to ask
Of beauty she could never hide
Revealed from far behind a mask

Figure & Ground


The Figure/Ground assignment is designed to better understand how the former relates to the latter while utilizing variety, harmony and unity.

By selecting one sketch from the Symbol Grid project, a series of abstracted images will be created that will reflect similar design traits while completing an overall design in a grid pattern.

The relationship between the figure and the ground refers to a viewer’s ability to distinguish an object from its general surroundings. Comparisons between figure and ground share the following generalities:

  • Ground is usually larger and simpler than figure
  • Figure usually appears on top of or in front of ground
  • Convex shapes tend to be figures and concave shapes tend to be ground
  • Unbroken shapes tend to become figures and segmented shapes tend to become ground
  • Figures are considered dominate
  • Darker colors tend to form figures
  • Figure and ground of the same shape become ambiguous
  • Strong figure/ground relationships exude simplicity
  • Weak figure/ground relationships convey ambiguity

The final composition will fill a 12”x12” grid, divided by 4” squares in three rows and three columns centered within a 3” border on Bristol board. Tools needed include a ruler, a soft pencil, an X-acto knife, various erasers and permanent markers.

PreparationSymbol Grid

My first step in this project was to decide upon one of the twenty-three symbols from the Symbol Grid assignment to abstract into nine different images. After careful consideration, I choose my icon for transparency.


Next, I sketched several preliminary design concepts for the final figure/ground composition. My plan was to use the inherent created shapes within the cubed design to generate non-figurative contours without deviating from the original object.

Preliminary Design ConceptsQuantified Segments

Draft VizualizationAfter producing a series of acceptable shapes based on my transparent cube, I wanted to ensure I was evenly distributing the preëxisting components into my new forms. To accomplish this task, I numbered each segmented shape and quantified them, in turn, resulting in seven distinct parts of my cube. This method afforded me with the knowledge that I had initially used an in proportionate amount of my seventh portion and too few of my second and third. By modifying a couple of shapes, I easily rectified the inaccuracy.

The last step in my preparation was to organize my new forms into appropriate and complimentary locations within the predetermined grid formation. I then quickly sketched a draft to visualize the final layout.


To prepare my Bristol board, I measured the exterior dimensions and marked a one inch section to remove from the horizontal edge and a six-inch section from the vertical, resulting in a perfectly square surface to divide into my composition’s grid of 4” squares. By including three rows and three columns, the final design would equal twelve inches squared.

I then removed the pencil marks from the 3” border of my grid with a kneaded eraser and cut the previously marked excess material from the sides of my Bristol board.

Preparing Bristol BoardCleaning BordersTrimming Edges

To ensure I would have a size-appropriate original image from which to produce accurate transfers, I recreated my transparency cube within a 4”x4” square in my sketchbook. Using tracing paper, I transferred exact replications of my pre-planned forms based on the specifically combined segments of my transparency cube.

4x4 inch CubeTracing TransferCube Segments

Inking Figures & GroundsTo finalize my composition, I outlined each new form with a permanent marker, taped off the negative areas and filled in the figure with permanent marker. In every other square of my grid, I reversed the method to tape off the positive space and filled in the ground with permanent marker. In each case, the figure stood out from the ground as a smaller, more detailed shape appearing on top of the ground.

On a side note, every new form is created, not only exactly from the original shape, but in the exact position within its respective square in which it would reside if the complete cube were recreated, in whole.

Case In Point

Chapter eight of Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice by Ocvirk, Stinson, Wigg, Bone and Cayton dove into many aspects of Space, beginning with spatial perception and the major types of space. Spatial indicators, spatial properties of elements and structured ambiguity were also covered in great detail. The chapter rounded out with three-dimensional applications of space.

Case: Space – Near & Far

Space can be actual or illusionary and refers to the interval, or measurable distance, between points or images. When images are created with a singular point of view they are said to be presented in a two-dimensional format; however, in physical works of art, when actual space exists and is treated as an element, the three-dimensionality is more than an illusion or manufactured point of view.

There are two major types of space: decorative and plastic. Decorative space has a height and width but very little depth; in contrast, plastic space refers to the environment in which objects appear. There are two sub-categories of plastic space and deep, infinite space. Shallow space limits the viewer’s penetration into the pictorial space but deep and infinite space creates a spatial perception that extends well beyond the immediate pictorial surface and contains atmospheric perspective.

There are many spatial indicators to represent space and our comprehension to its depth: detail – both sharp and diminishing, size, position, overlapping, transparency, interpenetration, fractional representation, converging parallels, linear parallels and intuitive space.

Elements have spatial properties and the variations are endless but some of the basics include how space relates to line, shape, value, texture and color.

Structured ambiguity refers to space generated by elements and shapes that are vague and appear to fluctuate between being positive, or figures, and negative, or grounds.

Low relief, or bas-relief, sculptures have spatial limitations; whereas, installations, or architectural settings, beckon the viewer to see the artwork from all angles. These are both examples of three-dimensional applications of space. Four-dimensional space integrates time and motion into the experience of a work of art.

In Point

As chapter eight was expansive, Dr. Giampa required five bullet points be developed and I chose to utilize her empathy method to explore the unique characteristics of the types of space, spatial indicators, elemental spatial properties, structured ambiguity and three-dimensional space.

Types of Space

I’m space. Sometimes I’m very shallow and decorative and become flat and contain little depth but other times I seem much more three-dimensional and am considered plastic. When I feel like showing this deeper side of my personality I don’t always show it all at once. I can reveal just a little depth and limit your view into my pictorial space. When I do this I am showing my shallowness and can be compared to a stage with sides and a back wall. If I’m feeling even more generous with my depth, I may become deep or even infinite, letting you see far into an illusionary distance, far beyond my pictorial plane.

Spatial Indicators

My spatial indicators are many and varied. If I want you to see things that appear close to you I make their detail extremely sharp, or I can make them blurry and obscure their details creating the illusion that they are farther away from you. I can also use size to indicate an objects closeness or distance. The smaller the object, the further away it seems; alternatively, the larger an object, the closer you may think it is. If I show you a point of reference, such as a horizon line, and then position objects accordingly, I can provide you with the illusion of my depth based on your real world experiences. I can also overlap objects, obscuring parts of the objects that seem to behind another and I might even use transparency, when you seem to be seeing an object through a closer item, to create various illusions of distance. If you need more help establishing a sense of depth, I can utilize interpenetration, where two objects pass through each other, to produce either an illusion of how shallow or deep I may want to appear. I’ve also been known to do some strange things with fraction representation, in which I combine several spatial aspects in one object or scene. If I use converging parallels to indicate my properties, I angle away from you and one pair of my parallel lines appear to eventually meet. I can also use linear perspective in which I utilize imaginary sight-lines, called guidelines, and extend to a vanishing point, normally at eye level along the horizon line. Below this line there is a ground plane and above it resides a sky plane. The angle from which you view me is considered your location point and is indicated by an imaginary vertical line.

Elemental Spatial Properties

I have many relationships with the elements of design and when I interact with line, or vice versa, movement is implied either toward you, the viewer, or away from you. The types of lines utilized within a composition can also change your perception of me. I work similarly with shapes and how they relate to each other and the environment in which they exist. Value is also an important controlling element for creating illusions of my depth. Light and shadow from the real world are every day experiences, so replicating these values within a pictorial surface will result in similar foreground/background relationships. If I contain sharp, clear or bold textures they may seem to advance while fuzzy, dull and minuscule textures seem to recede. Likewise, contrasting colors can create an illusion of closeness or distance based on warmth, coolness and analogous intensity and hues.

Structured Ambiguity

If I become vague or unreadable or the objects within me cannot be determined as figures or ground, I am considered ambiguous and uncertain, or structured ambiguity. Usually, this is an undesirable state and is caused by equivalency where too many elements are so similar there is little or no contrast. To avoid this, size of objects should be varied, the types of values should contrast appropriately, shape types should not all equal each other and a variety of texture, colors and intensities should define positive and negative areas.

Three-dimensional Space

I am an illusion in pictorial art; however, in the three-dimensional arts, I actually exist and must be treated as an element. I can be restricted in a linear, decorative manner or represented with great spatial independence. An example of each could be bas-relief sculptures and architectural installations, respectively. If you add time and motion into a work of art I become four-dimensional and evolve as the viewer experiences a design of this type.

Final Composition

Transparent Cube
Transparent Cube

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Case In Point Mapping based on research by
Dr. Joan Giampa

Texture Rubbing


The Texture Rubbing project is designed to learn and understand more about different textures and how they might make a viewer describe them by how they visually “feel”.

The final composition will fill a 12”x12” grid, divided by 3” squares in four rows and four columns centered within a 3” border on sketch/drawing paper. Other tools needed include a ruler, a soft pencil, various erasers and a graphite pencil.

Rubbings are produced by placing the paper on top of a textured surface and gently rubbing the graphite pencil across the paper, thus allowing the texture below to transfer its pattern to the paper. Each rubbing must fill as much of the appropriate square as possible and only one texture should be used in each square. Each square should also be filled from a unique texture source.

To complete the project, assign an adjective to each texture square and include it as a compositional element.


I began preparing my sketch paper by measuring an 18”x18” surface area and dividing the square into sixteen 3” squares using my ruler and a soft pencil. Next, I went on a texture scavenger hunt.

ConcreteAsphaltTree BarkRoot
MulchLandscape TimberManhole CoverFence Panel
Wicker ChairTire TreadWrought Iron SeatSewer Pipe
Brick WallBolderWooden GrateTile

Rough Draft

Rough DraftAs I found each texture I was interested in, I took an initial rubbing with a 6B graphite pencil. I did this for two reasons: first, I wanted to make sure the surface I thought would produce a nice transfer actually produced a unique effect. In some cases I found the surface didn’t stand out or even transfer so I moved on. My second reason for the rough draft was to visual organize the patterns in my mind before deciding where within my grid I’d like the final rubbing to exist.

Texture Design

Once I decided which textures I wanted to use in my final design, I had to take the sheet with my prepared grid to each texture source and get a new rubbing. For this I used a harder HB graphite pencil than previously utilized. I found that the soft 6B pencil left too much graphite on the page to distinguish between the texture underneath and the normal graphite rubbed on the paper.

Texture Collection

Collection Process

As I took each rubbing, it was necessary to erase some overlap from square to square to ensure the adjacent textures were properly displayed. Since most of my textures were outside, I took my grid sheet, a kneaded rubber eraser and my graphite pencil with me on my second texture journey. When I returned to the house, I used a mars plastic eraser to clean the edges and some harder to remove marks from my design and its frame.

Clean Up


The next step in the texture project was to describe each texture with an appropriate adjective. To accomplish this, I blew up a picture of the final texture rubbings and considered many types of adjectives such as tastes and tactile adjectives, appearance adjectives, positive and negative sensation adjectives and shape, size and sound adjectives. I chose the most appropriate for each texture pattern I had collected but did not stick to the predictable tactile descriptions. I purposefully ignored the source of each rubbing and focused purely on the design created by the transfer.

Descriptive Adjectives


After deciding on descriptions and a font that would complement my design, I needed to transfer the text to the composition. To accomplish this I used the simple tracing paper method. By printing my labels the appropriate size to fit my work, I simply traced the positive image of each, reversed my trace on the negative image and then transferred the descriptive text to my graphite rubbing. I later darkened each adjective with a permanent marker.

Positive Labels Negative Labels Label Transfers


One of the last steps was to trim the excess paper from the final composition and clean the edges and frame of the design with my kneaded and plastic erasers.

TrimmingLabel Contrast
While I thought this version was pretty close to complete, as I reviewed the overall design I wanted more contrast between the descriptions and the rubbings. I first thought about purchasing a white marker to accent the dark, black text but decided instead to lighten the area directly behind each label with a kneaded eraser, thus allowing the descriptive adjective to stand out from each pattern.

Feeling Feelings

Case In Point

Chapter Six of Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice by Ocvirk, Stinson, Wigg, Bone and Cayton focused on Texture. The nature of texture was broached in this chapter along with types of texture, patterns, composition and space as related to texture. Its expressive content and some three-dimensional applications of texture rounded out the chapter.

Case: Texture and its Types

Experiencing texture can be subconscious or obvious, inviting or repellent, visual or physical. When texture is more than an illusion it is considered tactile. There are several types of textures: actual, simulated, abstract and invented. Actual texture is a tangible, concrete, physical texture. Some examples of actual textures include thick uses of paint, enhanced by the quality of the paint utilized, and papier collé, the origin of the modern collage, which makes use of actual objects within a planer design. Simulated texture looks real but is an illusion. Many genre paintings of the Dutch and Flemish produced amazing effects often associated with trompe l’oeil paintings so convincing in their detail they could be mistaken for the real thing. Modified textures that display a hint of an original texture are known as abstract textures whereas invented textures are without precedent; in other words, these textures do not simulate nor abstract from reality, they are created from the artist’s imagination. Patterns are often derived from textures and decorative in purpose. Textures can provide movement within a composition and manipulate space by appearing blurred or sharp depending on the artists’ intent. The lines between two-dimensional and three-dimensional art blurs even more as texture building becomes assemblage where the artist constructs large, protruding objects – either free-standing or hanging – and mixes surface textures with the assembled objects’ textures.

In Point

Focusing on the four texture types as my bullet points allowed me to utilize Dr. Giampa’s personification method to explore the unique characteristics of each type and how they could be perceived by a viewer.

Actual Texture

As an actual texture you can consider me the “real thing”! I can be inherently found in natural materials, although I may be manipulated from my natural form. I change the surface of planer designs when an artist builds their materials upon that surface, subtly or obviously.  Papier collé is one way to accomplish such a collage effect of objects within a design, thus offering my viewer’s many different tactile experiences.

Simulated Texture

When I merely create an illusion of a texture I’m described as a simulated texture. A talented and skilled artist can make such an illusion so real the viewer feels compelled to reach out and touch me. Trompe l’oeil paintings are perfect examples of my ability to fool the eye with photographic detail. Although I may look like I contain tangible textures, you can trust me when I tell you I’m lying.

Abstract Texture

Sometimes I simply hint at another texture and in these cases I’m considered an abstract texture.  Normally, I become a simplified version of the original texture and I often emphasize patterns and designs. I am usually used decoratively to accent or diminish areas of the composition as well as control eye movement. I’m just here to compliment other areas of a design, or even tame dominant features, to improve the balance or focus of a composition.

Invented Texture

I can also be an interesting invented texture that is without precedent! At these times I’m neither simulated nor do I abstract from reality. As an invented texture my main purpose is sometimes to surprise or shock my viewers and I share similar decorative and compositional tasks just like when I’m an abstract texture. Be careful when using me in this manner because I should not distract the viewer from the true purpose of the design. The subject and meaning of a work can be lost in the swirl and excitement of imaginative and unique textures like me!


For curiosities sake, I’ve included a graph describing which source textures produced which patterns.


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Case In Point Mapping based on research by
Dr. Joan Giampa

Value & Intensity

Value Scale

The first step to the Value and Intensity project was to create an 11 step value scale, from pure white to pure black, with even incremental shades of gray in-between. Each value would occupy a 2”x2” square with a 1” border around the entire scale resulting in a 24”x4” composition on Bristol board. Acrylic paint, brushes, painters tape and an X-acto knife would be needed to complete the assignment.


To visualize my process, I charted the percentages of black and white paint I would need to produce each value square. Obviously, Value 1 would be 100% white and Value 11 would be 100% black, so no mixing would be required for these two squares. Value 6 would be exactly 50% black and 50% white, resulting in a perfect mid-tone gray (in relation to the acrylic paint utilized).

Value Percentages

Just for trivia’s sake, I included the RGB and hexadecimal color values. CMYK would only vary in its K, or black key plate. For example: White = 0, Gray = 50 and Black = 100. They are also referenced by percentage.

I started my surface preparation by cutting my Bristol board to size.  I taped off the vertical sides first, to ensure the sides of each value square would line up evenly when all the squares were completed. Next, I taped off the top square for Value 1, the bottom square for Value 11 and the middle square for Value 6.

Cutting Bristol Board Blank Slate Taped Off Squares

I wanted to come up with a reproducible method of mixing my paint that could be easily recreated, quickly and efficiently. To this end, I experimented with a couple different approaches: first, I tried adding drops of paint based on the percentage of gray I wanted to create. Unsure if this would generate a consistent value each time, I tried a second technique by measuring an exact amount of paint using measuring utensils. This attempt took much longer, was unreliable to be precise and resulted in an almost identical shade that my first method produced. After trying different attempts of more accurate measuring, I returned to my original approach. I knew that a common method was to mix black into white until a visually acceptable shade could be reached but I was unhappy with the inconsistency such a system would form.

Painting Value Squares

To mix my first shade of grey, Value 6 – 50% white, 50% black –  I added 5 similar drops of white paint and 5 drops of black paint to my palette. I continued this pattern for Values 4 and 8 and Values 2 and 10.

50% Paint MixValue 6Values 4 and 8

   Values 2 and 10 Value 3 and 9 Values 5 and 7

By allowing these squares to dry, I could move the tape and continue my process with Value 3 and 9, leaving only Values 5 and 7 to complete the value scale.

I had to use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process to allow me to tape off the last two squares. After finishing Value 4 and 8, I double checked each square by removing the horizontal tape one strip at a time, ensuring each square was touching and even. Any discrepancies required remixing the value needed – which was easy due to my drop-method – and fixing the errors found. A kneaded eraser and gum eraser were both used to remove guide lines and measurement marks. An X-acto knife was also utilized to scratch off a few random paint spots that mistakenly crossed their taped-off areas.

Value Scale

Case In Point

Chapter Five of Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice by Ocvirk, Stinson, Wigg, Bone and Cayton was dedicated to Value. Some relationships of value were covered in this chapter along with art media, techniques of plastic value, decorative value and patterns within compositions. Three-dimensional applications of value were also addressed.

Case: Value – dark to light (and back again)

An area’s relative lightness and darkness is referred to as its value and achromatic values consist of black, white and the limitless degrees of gray between. Alternatively, the same scale applied to color is known as chromatic values. The darker end of these scales is referred to as low-key values and the lighter end contains high-key values.

Highlights include the portion of an object that, from the viewer’s point of view, receives the greatest amount of light while shadows are the darker values on the surface of an object that suggest that a portion of it is turned away from or obscured by the source of light. Without additional lighting, an object’s surface has a natural local value. Plastic values create the appearance of depth and Cast Shadows are dark areas that occur when another shape is placed between a light source and an object or surface.

Chiaroscuro is the technique of gradually blending contrasting lights and darks to develop an illusion of mass. By extremely exaggerating this technique, tenebrism is created. This great contrast is utilized for emphasis and indicating importance.

The illusion of limited depth known as Shallow Space and decorative values, which stress the essential flatness of a surface, both ignore conventional light. Conversely, organized areas of light and dark create value patterns which can be readily recognized in closed-value compositions where values are contained within the contours of defined shapes. On the other hand, open-value compositions allow values to cross over shape boundaries. The area between the contours of an object as defined by a contrast of value is a shape’s silhouette.

In Point

Becoming value to cover three bullets of interest provided insight into the effect that value has upon shapes, elements and the patterns created within compositions.


I have many moods, and at my most placid I might even be considered boring; but fret not, I wear many accessories that will keep your attention. My highlights can draw your eye toward important elements by illumination, both direct and indirect, while my shadows beckon you to explore unknown depths within my darkest corners. While my local value is often accented, if I lighten my humor, I’m considered “high-key”. This could suggest that I’m excited but normally it merely means I’m a bit happier: bright and optimistic; however, if you see me in my “low-key” state, you might want to look more closely. I might be hard to see but it’s easy to tell my temperament may have turned dark and mysterious and even depressed. Don’t get comfortable! I can shift these relationships quickly with alterations to my composition.


If I feel structured and defined, I’m known as a closed-value, which basically means my values are contained within the contours of my shapes, each distinct and separate; conversely, when I’m labeled as an open-value, my values (and often colors) cross shapes and areas to abstractly combine normally isolated elements. Additional means of elemental distinction is needed in these situations. In either case, I produce patterns by organizing my areas of light and dark and many times my silhouette is easily recognizable.


Some techniques worth mentioning have been developed to deal with my boundless degrees of subtlety – some less subtle than others. Chiaroscuro makes use of the ability to gradually blend my contrasting darks and lights to develop an illusion of solidity. This is very helpful when I occupy the two-dimensional world. Before this technique was common, most of my values would have been considered decorative, stressing the essential flatness of my surfaces, or merely utilizing shallow space, which only took advantage of producing an illusion of limited depth – moving only slightly away from the picture plane. Tenebrism, in extreme contrast, exaggerates my contrasting highlights and shadows to emphasis elements within a composition. Of course, there are many, many more techniques to consider if you want to tame my unlimited values!

Value Painting

The second step to the Value and Intensity project was to transfer this newly discovered knowledge of values to a design and represent highlights and shadows within a chosen range, or key. The composition would be produced on a 14”x16” Bristol board with a 3” undefined border. Acrylic paint, brushes, tracing paper, a soft pencil and an X-acto knife would be needed to complete the assignment.


For this painting a still life was selected by Dr. Giampa, so the first task was to transfer the image to the final medium. By utilizing tracing paper, I traced the positive image with a number 8B pencil.

Still LifePositive Trace

I started my surface preparation by cutting my Bristol board to size.  I also measured the border and marked it, lightly, with a soft pencil to ensure my design would ultimately be centered within the composition.

Cutting Board to Size Measure Border

Next, I needed to trace the negative image so that it would be transferable as a positive design. By flipping the tracing paper over and tracing the negative lines, the image was ready to be transferred to the prepared Bristol board.

Negative TraceTransfer Image
 Checking Transfer Completed Transfer

Value VisualizationTo visualize my value patterns and determine how many values I would need to represent the image appropriately while still economizing my palette, I decided to color code the design with pastel pencils. I started by identifying highlights with yellow and cast shadows as purple. This method isolated my lightest and darkest areas within the composition. By utilizing the same technique, I was able to ascertain my reflective light (orange) and crest shadows (blue). This left me with a dilemma, because I originally wanted to keep my natural value at one additional shade; however, there were too many adjacent shapes needing a natural value, so I chose a light (green) and dark (red) base value.

Painting Value Still-life

An important aspect of the value painting, regardless of the number of values involved, is the decision to create a low-key or a high-key composition. I chose a low-key value scale for several reasons: I wanted my design to stand out from its naturally occurring border of white; I thought a darker image would contrast with the subject matter, which reminded me of a cheerful, bright kitchen scene; and I wanted to experiment with creating highlights and reflective light within a darker value range.

To complete the preparation phase of my value painting, I assigned percentages to my low-key gray-scale categories. By primarily utilizing the lower end of the value spectrum, I began by allocating my two natural values 50 to 60 percent black. I wanted my shadows to hover near the very end of the scale at 80 and 90 percent black. At the opposite end of my range, I gave the highlights a mere 30 percent black while the reflective light received a 40 percent black value.

One last decision was made, good or bad, to freehand the painting portion of the project instead of blocking off each area or creating stencils. The reason behind this choice was to hopefully produce a more fluid and natural movement within the design.

Natural Values

The first value mixed and applied was the lighter main value meant for areas without significant light or shadow: namely, the 50 percent areas (green). Second, the darker main value was mixed at 60 percent black and applied to the remaining natural areas (red).

50 Percent 60 Percent


The next value added to the composition was primarily mixed as a crest shadow value at 80 percent black and added to the appropriate shapes (blue). Some areas assigned to this shade resided within areas already painted, so I took advantage of the opaque qualities of acrylic paint and painted directly over the spaces necessary. First, the correct shapes needed to be transferred on top to the design in progress. A 90 percent cast shadow value was mixed to be included in the darkest areas (purple) as my last shade to complete the composition.

80 Percent Shadow Transfers

90 Percent Sifter Details Rolling Pin Details


By utilizing the same method, I transferred reflective light outlines to the design and mixed a 40 percent black value for the appropriate areas (orange). The highlights were mixed next at a 30 percent black value and augmented as accents to the lightest areas (yellow) of the design.

Highlight Transfers 40 Percent

30 Percent All Values


The finishing touch was to add the lettering to the butter and sugar packages. I choose to use pure white to compliment the background while simultaneously adding contrast against the global darkness of the composition.

Dark Kitchen

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Case In Point Mapping based on research by
Dr. Joan Giampa

Parts of the Puzzle


The Parts of the Puzzle exercise is a shape based project that requires imaginative problem solving within strict limitations.

Four 6”x8” compositions must be created while utilizing only three types of shapes: a circle, a line and a simple rectilinear shape.

Black construction paper, white Bristol board and painted gray paper should be used to employ an achromatic design. (Black paper may be made by painting Bristol board, similar to the gray paper.) Construction of the project will utilize rubber cement, acrylic paint (white and black), an X-acto knife, a ruler and a rubber cement eraser.

  1. No study may have more than six positive shapes.
  2. The same components must appear in each study.
  3. Any component may be repeated, as necessary.
  4. Any component may be enlarged or reduced in any study.
  5. If a shape extends beyond the boundary of a study, it should be cropped.

Trim Bristol Board


Knowing that I needed to create gray paper by painting white Bristol board, I started this process first. I cut approximately half of a large sheet of Bristol board for gray paper and left the remainder for my white shapes I would cut out later. Next, I took a large sample of white acrylic paint and a much smaller amount to black – approximately a 90/10 split – and started mixing the colors a little at a time with an old brush until I was happy with the shade of gray produced.

White & Black AcrylicMixing PaintGray Acrylic

Cross-paintingBy utilizing a technique introduced by Dr. Giampa of painting vertically and then horizontally and cross-painting several layers in this manner a fairly solid gray was created. By brushing water into the mix and alternating the directional strokes, layer by layer, the actual brush marks were eliminated, little by little. I actually repeated this process a dozen times to smooth the surface of my gray paper as much as possible.

Halfway through my process, I noticed some inconsistencies in the paint. I wanted to eradicate these imperfections and rough areas before using the paper in my project so I smoothed the flaws with fine sandpaper before continuing with my layers of gray. One last attempt at removing brush lines was attempted by completing my last few repetitions with a sponge brush.


 Layers 1 - 3Layers 4 - 6Sanding Imperfections

Layers 7 - 9Wet-washingLayers 10 - 12

Case In Point

Chapter Four of Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice by Ocvirk, Stinson, Wigg, Bone and Cayton was assigned to set the groundwork for this project as a study in shape. This chapter covered types, dimensions and expressive content of shapes as well as several compositional principles that apply to shape, such as harmony and variety, dominance, movement, balance, proportion and economy. Three-dimensional applications of shape were also mentioned.


Depending on placement, shapes can create illusions of depth and dimensionality. Shapes are very expressive.

During the creative process, certain shapes can be planned and expected or develop themselves as the design evolves. Abstract shapes may morph into defined and recognizable shapes. Even negative space may become obvious shapes. All shapes have an outer edge – either implied or explicit.

Objective shapes are representational and more concrete than subjective shapes which appear much more abstract. Geometric shapes are very structured and defined – mainly consisting of a curvilinear and rectilinear contour. Biomorphic shapes, in contrast, are living, breathing forms; often they are thought of as natural and organic. The idea of implied, or amorphous, shapes is strongly connected to the principle of closure and indicates a shape that is not yet a shape – although, the human mind would argue otherwise.

Two dimensional shapes exist in any pictorial composition, although, through the use of the principles of organization, the illusion of three-dimensional mass may be created. Volume is the measurable space, or void, that will offset this mass and can also be implied in two-dimensional art. Planar shapes, however, are perceived as flat and have height and width but not depth. Equivocal space refers to the optical illusion of a shape seeming to change as the viewer’s perspective changes.

Shapes within a form will either work with the compositional layout or stand out from the design. Harmony may be achieved by producing shapes with similar characteristics while variety can be created with accents and changes to elements within a shape. Contrasting qualities of shapes suggest dominance and determine a viewer’s duration of attention. Subconscious association can also influence dominance. The angle or positioning of shapes (and other elements) can suggest movement. This movement can be toward the viewer, away from the viewer or simply within the image, from one area to another. The rhythm of movement can be smooth or jarring, quick or slow. Balance of one sort or another is almost always desired and may be achieved by the inclusion or absence of any elements and the development of many of the principles. By breaking down a subject of art into simple planer shapes, proportion and economy can become more manageable during the developmental stages of a composition. Objects in relationship to each other and their surroundings are more easily managed when containing less detail.

Artists may intentionally use certain shapes to invoke inevitable emotions from viewers. A spectator’s perception, imagination and sensitivity to form will all influence their appreciation of a piece of art.

Within three-dimensional artwork, mass is physical and measurable, as is volume, or areas within the piece that recede and hold space. Contours describe the shapes edges and the silhouette is a major example of a shapes boundaries. Secondary contours move the viewer’s eye around the work and join major contours together. The negative space of a three-dimensional sculpture is sometimes as important, if not more important, than the positive space as it moves the eye to opposite sides of an object and implores the viewer to experience the entire work.

In Point

By developing the bullets point of view, I’ve found deeper understand of each subject and happen to enjoy the process of personification. To that end, I employed that empathy to shape and three aspects of Chapter Four I found most important.


As a shape, I can be defined or implied, abstract or representational, geometric or biomorphic. The beauty of being me lies in my ability to not only be all these things; I can also be several at one time! I may allow you to see my true nature or I may hide my contours and make you wonder if I am what I say I am. I can be rigid and mathematical or I can move and breathe just like you. I can even be both simultaneously or change right before your eyes!


However, you may want to be careful how you use me, who you put me next to and how often you duplicate me. My relationships are delicate and I can be quite temperamental. For example, if you want me to get along with all your elemental cliques, I suggest you keep some of us together. We like to mingle with family and friends; but if you start to clone us we can easily become bored and refuse to play nice. Some of us are dominant by being different but there is a balance to be found within this variety. My friends and I all have rhythm but it may not please everyone all the time. Like I said, be careful!


If you upset me, I may not be predictable; then again, often times I am and you can use this knowledge to your advantage. Know your enemy! Scratch that. Know your observer (if you think you can). Their imagination, perception and emotions are influenceable, but only to a certain extent. To thine own self, be true!


After reviewing the requirements, limitations and examples of this assignment, I had a vague idea of some personal elements I wanted to include and thought they would be instrumental in making my final design unique while staying within the guidelines. I was certain I would include circles of various sizes in each study, squares in alternating positions and sizes and straight lines, both horizontal and vertical, all the same width but of varying lengths.

I decided I would include exactly six shapes in each study but I used a random method of assigning how many repetitions of each would occur in which study by laying out a grid with the shapes on the left and the study number on top.

Random Assignment Method

By assigning one circle, two lines and three squares to Study One, I started a pattern that indicated Study Two would include four circles; however, since no study could have more than four shapes while still including a minimum of one of the two remaining shapes, Study Two could only include one line and one square.

Beginning Grid

This began a simple game of Sudoku, because Study Three and Study Four could only have two circles each. With three being the next logical number, Study Two was assigned three lines and left with one square. To round out the study varieties, Study Four was allocated two lines and two squares.

Final Grid

The resulting grid contained a happy coincidence of seven squares, eight lines and nine circles; thus satisfying an obsessive compulsive need for numeric order.

Thumbnail Sketch

One of my initial desires for this project was to complete the four studies in such a manner that I could create one complete composition out of the four individual designs. To this end, I started reverse engineering by sketching the completed, combined image and breaking the design into four separate panels during the process. However, I didn’t simply sketch a composition and divide it into four pieces.

First I reduced the entire sketch to exactly half of the required project size. By designing in this manner, I made my sketch a manageable unit that fit within one piece of notebook paper and could be edited and experimented with to scale.

I started with a square that would share space with all four studies and, just to add a unique twist (literally), I rotated this square 45 degrees. Continuing with shared shapes in mind, I added lines that would cross panels. This allowed me to connect Study One with Study Two and Study Three with one horizontal line and one vertical line; likewise, Study Three connected with Study Four with two horizontal lines. This finalized the self-imposed line requirements. The last shared element needed to be a circle, thus ensuring at least one example of each shape would cross panels within the final design. This was accomplished between Study Three and Study Four.

Design SketchTo balance the lack of lines on the left side of my overall image, I added a square to Study Four precisely where the vertical line existed in Study Three. The last shape needed in Study Four was a circle and an empty area in the lower right-hand corner lent itself perfectly for a medium-sized shape to extend outside the bounds of the panel. Similarly, I added a smaller circle to Study Three in a position that not only balanced the individual panel but offset the small square in Study Four, thus completing a second study.

Next, I added an extremely large circle to Study One in the upper left-hand corner, which was intended to contrast with the many smaller shapes already included within the composition, harmonize with the overlapping circle in Study Three and Study Four and balance the opposing circle in Study Four. Two squares were needed to complete Study One and the first was included in the upper left-hand corner to extend off the panel and break up the large, flat area created by the gigantic circle. The remaining square was purposely reduced to arguably the smallest shape of all the studies and ironically shared space with the largest shape of all the studies. Set between the horizontal and vertical lines and diagonally between the conventional and rotated squares, this last element of Study One resided comfortably on top to the large circle and close to the center of the panel.

Study Two was left with a need to elegantly include four circles, the most shapes of one kind in any panel, while simultaneously maintaining a balance within the overall composition and executing an impartial image, strong enough to stand alone. Luckily, I had an idea for these four circles as soon as I noticed the numbers in my planning grid. While almost every shape in the other three studies were intertwined by means of overlapping shapes – the offsetting square and circle in Study Three and Study Four, respectively – Study Two would allow it’s four circles to float off the top of the panel from a free-standing position near the center of the design. The circles themselves overlap but are not connected to the other shapes nor are they allied with any other elements in the combined image. However, by wrapping around the line on the left side of the study and seeming to originate from the implied square in the lower left-hand corner, an economy and domination are produced concurrently.

Normally, I would never begin finalizing a project without attempting several variations, sketches and ideas. However, I was so inspired by the effortlessness with which this design presented itself and the simple complexity of which it was comprised, that I had no choice but to proceed.


Sample ShapesOnce all the shapes were included in each study and arranged in their appropriate locations, it was time to visualize the values and their contrasting and harmonizing properties. To determine which shapes should be black, white or gray I needed a sample of each shape in each color. I basically measured my sketch, cut out one black shape from construction paper and two white shapes from scrap paper. To simulate gray, I colored in one of the duplicate shapes for each individual component. Then it was a simple matter of moving the samples around over simulated backgrounds. It’s important at this point to mention that I planned on utilizing two black, one white and one gray background. This decision was based on a practical need to economize my limited gray Bristol board.

If the shape arrangements within each panel while simultaneously appeasing a combined composition was a balancing act, then the value distribution of each study was the tight-rope in the center ring! To begin, I placed my gray background and one black background in the lower corners of my overall design because together they would weigh more than the black and white backgrounds in the upper corners.

Starting with Study One which was assigned a black background, the large circle was decidedly white for contrast. The line from Study One to Study two would become black to connect the panels and the background in Study One, since it overlapped the large white circle. The rotated square was made white to balance the study and the square in the upper left-hand corner was allocated gray, both to contrast with the white circle while tying the vertical line into the composition, as it was assigned gray as well. The tiny square was made black to stand out from the large white circle and harmonize with the black horizontal line.

Following the gray line into Study Three allowed me to change the value to black since it would overlap the gray background. The horizontal line in the lower portion of the study was white and stayed white as it crossed into Study Four. The white square from Study One was continued into Study Three and remained white while overlapping a black circle. Also overlapping this circle would be a gray line which crossed into Study Four above the white line. Lastly, the circle on the left of the panel was assigned a white value to stand out against the gray background.Prototype

Two things happened when Study Three combined with Study Four: first, the black circle became a white circle to contrast against the suddenly black background; second, the square on top of the white circle become black, for the same reason. The white square on the right-hand side of the study was made white to stand out against the black background and to compliment the other lone shape in Study Three: the white circle. Lastly, the circle in the lower right-hand corner was given a gray value to add variety to this panel while at the same time tying into the adjacent panels and to contrast with the overlapping white line.

In Study Two, the square was continued from Study Four as black that contrasts perfectly with the white background. Alternating gray and black circles gradually grow and float off the study starting with gray and ending with black. This allows the largest black circle to offset the black square and be divided by the black horizontal line. The gray circles provide unity and variety at the same time while the white background provides the illusion of space and atmosphere.

Color Grid


I measured a quarter inch border to cut shapes from the gray painted paper and used the same procedure to extract my gray background panel. For each straight-edged shape, namely the squares and lines, I used an X-acto knife and a ruler. Gray PaperFor each circle I cut the shape out with a pair of scissors, leaving a quarter-inch margin and then carefully cutting closer until an exact circle was removed. A 6”x8” section of Bristol board was cut as the background of each study, even the white panel.

Because I started my sketch and sample to a 1:2 scale, all I had to do to create perfectly sized shapes was multiple my sample shapes by two. For each circle, the diameter of the sample was measured and then divided by two to find the radius. Creating CirclesThe radius was multiplied by two and a compass was used on a scratch piece of paper to test the visual impact of the new shape. After confirming the new size was appropriate, the compass was used on the white, gray or black paper to create the final shape. (It may not seem important to go through the process of finding the radius as the new radius is simply the diameter of the sample shape; however, if I were to need to triple or quadruple the sample size, this procedure would be vital.) All the rectilinear shapes, squares and lines (which are essentially rectangles), were simply doubled in width and length. This method allowed my final composition to be a scale representation of its sketch.

Study 4 LayoutStudy 3 LayoutStudy 2 LayoutStudy 1 Layout

Documented GuidlinesOnce I had all of the appropriate shapes cut out of the black construction paper, white Bristol board and gray painted board, I arranged them together to visualize the final designs. To ensure each component was aligned correctly, I measured and documented guidelines to appropriately place each shape within its study.

Employing the technique of applying rubber cement in a scoring method demonstrated by Dr. Giampa, horizontally on one element and vertical on the component to which it would adhere, each background, circle, square and line was affixed to each study until all four panels were complete. Smoothing the shapes to each other by covering the area with tracing paper and utilizing a drafting triangle to press from the center to the edges allowed each shape to be perfectly flat. Cropping shapes that extended beyond the limits of its panel occurred as necessary.


Applying Rubber CementScoring Rubber CementSmoothing Adhesive

Completed Project

Puzzle Pieces

The final individual studies are each compositionally stable, interesting and independently successful.

Study 4 Study 3

Study 2 Study 1

Single Study

Additionally, the four studies can be combined to indicate a new, single design.

Single Study

Complete Separation

My personal preference is to view the combined panels with some white space between each study.

Complete Separation

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Case In Point Mapping based on research by
Dr. Joan Giampa

200 Lines


200 Lines is an exercise in utilizing straight lines, and straight lines only, to create an abstract design that shows space. Materials needed to complete the project included pencils, erasers, a ruler, permanent markers and an 18”x24” Bristol board. The composition could be horizontal or vertical but no border would be employed. The end result was expected to show a development of each student’s line variety.


Series of LinesI started this project by creating a series of lines based on the physical characteristics of line: measure, type, direction, location and character. Where measure refers to the length and width of a line, it implies much, much more. For instance, thick lines can communicate a sense of stability and thin lines may suggest movement.

Some examples of different types include straight lines, curved lines and angular lines – each having distinct characteristics. Straight lines may seem rigid or stiff while curved lines are often stimulating and exciting. Angular lines might be confusing or interesting, depending on their implementation.

The direction and location of a line can change its emotion and psychological response from the viewer. Slanting a line upward may inspire a sense of strength while slanting it down could diminish its vitality. Lines high in a design could appear to soar while those same lines lower within an image may seem to plunge. Horizontal lines may indicate serenity while vertical lines can be interpreted as ambitious.

The character of a line can be implied by both the medium and surface utilized during the creation of a design. In this project both were chosen beforehand but care was taken to understand the difference between the sketches and preliminary designs on notebook and sketch paper verses the final composition on Bristol board.

Sketchbook Sketchbook inked

After my initial sketches on notebook paper, I transferred some of my line experimentation’s to a sketchbook in pencil and then tested the change in look and feel when outlined in permanent marker. I took the same approach in sketching preliminary design ideas, starting on notebook paper, transferring to my sketchbook and finally adding marker to emulate the final project materials.

Notebook DesignSketchbook Design Design Inked

Straight-line SketchTo ensure the final design was in compliance with the basic instruction regarding using only straight lines, a few revisions of the composition were created and a completely straight-lined version was sketched. Ultimately, this sketch would be the basis of the final project.

Sneak Preview
Sneak Preview

Case In Point

Chapter Three of Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice by Ocvirk, Stinson, Wigg, Bone and Cayton was assigned in preparation of this assignment as a study in line. In addition to the physical characteristics of line previously mentioned, the relationship between line and shape, value, texture and color were discussed as well as the spatial characteristics of line, line as representation and expression and three-dimensional applications of line.


Line is the most basic, yet arguably the most utilized, element of design. Whether physical or implied, two-dimensional or three, the line provides movement, structure, description and definition to an image or sculpture. The measure of a line refers to the physical dimensions of a line – the width and length: measurable proportions. When describing types of line, one can be referring to the direction, or multiple directions, of a line. A line can be straight, curved, graceful or abrupt. Each of these directions, combined with differing measures, has the potential to produce many different emotions and feelings within a viewer. To expand upon direction, there are different implications regarding the course of a line: horizontal lines may indicate stability while vertical lines might suggest poise. Diagonal lines are more likely to imply movement or anxiety and a line may contradict its basic nature by the overall direction of its course. Another element of line is its location within a composition. While heavy lines high in an image may suggest to the viewer a sense of imbalance and a contradictory representation may cause the viewer to reject the objects location within the design, serene lines in appropriate and expected locations within a work of art may exude a peacefulness and calmness in the viewer. There are also many illusions that may be created by an artist depending on the location of specific lines. A line, every line, has character. Many times this character is defined by the medium used regarding the artist’s instruments and surface as well as the method by which the artist utilizes their implementation. Shapes are created by their outer edges and defined by the lines which produce those edges, or contours; in addition, cross-contours indicate the rise and fall of a shapes surface. The value of a line refers to the lightness and darkness of a line in contrast to its background. Close, thin lines may represent a darker area even better than thick lines or completely darkened ranges of a surface. Hatching and cross-hatching are popular methods of indicating shading by varying the quantity, direction and intimacy of lines. Texture may also be inferred via line by producing a rough or smooth look by the artist’s use of surface and instrument regarding medium choice. The color of lines within a composition can create the illusion of receding or advancing images based on the choice of warm or cool colors just as thick and thin lines may indicate advancing or retreating shapes. Calligraphic lines may be considered specific to fancy writing techniques; however, more often than not, these lines are fluid, implied – even abstract – lines that visually represent the artist’s intent and produce the desired effect within a design. Gestural drawing, on the other hand, is very free and quick sketch-like lines which can characterize movement and flexibility within an arrangement.

In Point

I chose to further develop my Case In Point map on Line by utilizing the empathy strategy pointed out by Dr. Giampa in which I discussed three bullets from the Case above by exploiting the line’s point of view.


As a line, my direction decides the feeling a viewer senses by looking at the shapes I produce. If I stand tall and straight, I imply a sense of composure, ambition or hope while when I move level and horizontally I exude tranquility and constancy. By changing my mind and moving diagonally, the viewer may feel nervous, a sense of motion or impulsive tendencies. If I slant upward, I radiate strength, suspense and positivity; in contrast, if I slant downward, I issue a sense of decreasing energy.


My location is important to a viewer because my visual weight changes in the eye of the beholder. Expectation makes up a large part of this visual suspense and I can generate serenity out of commotion just by altering my location within a composition. High in a design, my diagonal lines can appear to climb while lower in the design they may appear to dive.


By changing my value, I transform from dark to light and based on my background I can increase and decrease the contrast of the shapes and lines I define. Utilizing wide lines, I appear to have a dark value while thin lines make my value lighter; similarly, many lines close together make my value darker and generously spaced lines will appear light.


Once I decided on a starting point, it was time to draw my initial design on Bristol board with a ruler and an 8H pencil (the softer, the better). I painstakingly spaced certain lines at specific intervals to ensure proper repetition, thus allowing certain patterns to develop. Adding permanent marker to the image permitted me to see where my value choices needed development and how my use of straight lines could produce an illusion of curved images. Some connected lines indicated shapes that other individual lines reproduced, thus proving similar effects could be made with diverse techniques. Implied lines were used to indicate the interpenetration of inferred shapes.

Pencil LayoutMarker Layout

By varying the thickness of the lines in my design, I balanced the overall composition and created harmony within distinct areas as well as contrast with surrounding elements. While some thin lines were meant to seem farther away from the viewer, others were intended to create a sense of weight and value. Specific lines and their implied counterparts were added to disrupt the assumed location of imaginary shapes depending on the focus of the viewer. Instead of threading adjacent elements, these lines purposely throw the same area of the composition forward in one perspective and backwards in another. Movement is created, not only by the direction of these lines but by the demand upon the viewer’s eye to constantly move in an attempt to disentangle the illusion. Continuous, angular lines were utilized to subtly draw the more curious and scrutinizing viewer into neighboring regions of the image. In one case, a single uninterrupted line angles 45 times (technically becoming 45 separate lines) to cross three distinct parts of the design. Other lines are a meager centimeter long but are vital to the overall impression of a distinct shape.

Variety and DepthEnhanced Movement

Overlapping lines were incorporated into the design to provide variety and depth while also adding scale and proportion and interest levels to the interpenetrated shapes. By balancing the contrast between light and dark, several lines were deepened and thickened and additional components were included to enhance movement.

Within this project, all of the basic elements have been utilized, specifically shape – mostly implied – contrast – dark versus light, curved verse angular lines, connected verses suspended shapes – and, of course, line in all its glory. Color is used in its purest sense of black and white and texture, although subtle, is included in several areas. By combining all of the Elements of Art and using the Principles of Organization, an innovative, cohesive piece of artwork has been fashioned out of one plain sheet of Bristol board and various permanent markers.

Bigger On The Inside
Bigger On The Inside

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Case In Point Mapping based on research by
Dr. Joan Giampa

The Symbol Grid

Research the 7 Principles and 16 Sub-principles of Design

  1. Harmony
    • 1.1.    Repetition
    • 1.2.    Rhythm
    • 1.3.    Pattern
    • 1.4.    Closure
    • 1.5.    Shared Edges
    • 1.6.    Overlapping
    • 1.7.    Transparency
    • 1.8.    Interpenetration
  2. Variety
    • 2.1.    Contrast
    • 2.2.    Elaboration
  3. Balance
    • 3.1.    Symmetrical Balance
    • 3.2.    Approximate Symmetrical Balance
    • 3.3.    Asymmetrical Balance
    • 3.4.    Radial Balance
  4. Proportion
    • 4.1.    Scale
    • 4.2.    Golden Mean
  5. Dominance
  6. Movement
  7. Economy

Sketch 9 Thumbnails for each Principle

First I quickly sketched each Principle with an ordinary number two pencil on lined notebook paper.

First 11 Principles  Second 11 Principles

Once I had a general idea of the 9 ideas for each symbol, I drew quality versions in my Sketchbook and made each the approximate size of the finished product. I sketched the first layer with a 4B pencil (I prefer this weight for general sketching and drawing) but went back over each sketch with a 6B pencil (a slightly softer graphite produces a nice dark edge and shades quickly and effectively).

RepetitionRhythmPatternClosureShared EdgesOverlappingTransparencyInterpenetrationVarietyContrastElaborationBalanceSymmetrical BalanceApproximate Symmetrical BalanceScaleDominance MovementAsymmetrical BalanceRadial BalanceProportionEconomyHarmonyGolden MeanBlank Grid
Every other page is covered by a piece of tracing paper to protect both pages from smearing graphite and accidental image transfer.

Transfer Preparation

After sketching and re-sketching 9 versions of each Principle, a favorite was chosen of each. I then quickly sketched each favorite symbol on one sheet of notebook paper – grouped by complexity, similarity and balance – to decide where in the final composition each symbol would reside. Next, I sketched a quick mock grid to place each symbol in an appropriate cell.

 Symbol Grouping Symbol Placement

I based my positioning of each symbol on the approximate weight, position, movement and assumed modifications I might make while transferring the symbols. The twenty-fourth cell was reserved for my signature icon.

Grid Creation

Trimming an inch from the long edge of a 19”x24” sheet of Bristol paper with an X-acto knife provided me with a 6×4 grid of 3” squares with a 3” border. A ruler, T-square and drafting triangle were used to measure and outline the grid.

Image Transfers

Because of the extra work completed in week one – producing quality and to-scale sketches – the transfer process was simplified for most of the symbols and required no, or very little, modification. A piece of tracing paper and an 8B pencil allowed me to copy each symbol to my 18”x24” Bristol sheet.

Transfer Symbols

Each image was traced from my sketchbook to tracing paper. The tracing paper was flipped over and the negative was traced (to add graphite to the negative image). The tracing paper was then placed in the appropriate position on the Bristol grid, positive side facing up, and traced once more; thus, transferring the exact image desired in the appropriate location within the composition.

Once all the images were transferred from my sketchbook to my Bristol board, I traced over my draft version of the layout with permanent marker to visualize how the final project would look.

Symbol Visualization

After finalizing each image with permanent marker and adjusting the weight of specific images to balance the overall composition, all the grid pencil marks and visible marks within each individual image were completely erased and the completed image was checked for stray marks and blemishes.

Symbol Grid

Documentation of the entire process was completed at each stage of the composition development.

Learning Process

In preparation for this project, Dr. Giampa expected the class to read two Chapters of Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice by Ocvirk, Stinson, Wigg, Bone and Cayton and then develop a Case In Point map for each to dissect and scrutinize what we learned.

Case In Point – Form, Design, Composition

The first assignment was to summarize Chapter Two which was based on Form but included the Elements of Art, the Principles of Organization and covered the creation of Space and Visual Unity. I found the exercise very helpful in understanding the specifics of not only the individual elements but the principles, as well. For example, while I originally included the elements in my Case, stating that they included line, shape, value, texture and color, I expanded upon this very general declaration as a bullet in my Point by specifying that not all the elements are always used together but many of them are automatically combined within a design and organized to establish good form. By summarizing the information contained in the textbook and then expanding upon it by engaging in deeper thinking about each main point I found most important, my thoughts were focused and succinct and I then applied this new perspective to my design in progress. I found it extremely helpful while choosing the location of the symbols within my grid based on harmony and variety. Movement and economy were also strongly considered centered on my recent investigation into the Principles of Organization.

Case In Point – Fundamentals of Art

After learning about Space and Visual Unity, the Elements of Art and the Principles of Organization, the same process was applied to Chapter One and the three Components of Art: Subject, Form and Content. Again, I started with a general encapsulation of the chapter, briefly covering the evolving nature of art, Organic Unity and Abstraction. The main points I wanted to discuss, however, were the components themselves and how Subject is essentially the topic or “what” of a design, Form is the “how” or development of a piece and Content is the intention, meaning or “why” of the art. By drilling down into each component I explained how the subject of art may be representational or nonrepresentational and the more abstract the representation becomes, the less identifiable the subject becomes until it reaches a nonobjective state. I described Form as an overall union of the elements of art utilizing the principles of organization and indicated that the message, emotion or mood of a work of art is considered its content.  Each of these investigations into the deeper meanings of what was explained in the textbook helped me comprehend the essence of art and with this foundation I could move on to the creation stages of my projects.


The symbol grid is a visual manifestation of the 23 principles and sub-principles of design. Each icon is representational of a separate and distinct idea or method utilized while planning a composition. The overall subject is a key to design and a guide to development. By approaching the component of “what” as a representational subject, the symbols are physically characterized as individual icons. Even in cases where the principles are more abstract, a physical manifestation is utilized as each symbol is developed. Line, shape and value are obvious while texture and color are not generally employed (other than basic black and white, of course).

While many of the elements of design were employed in each symbol, the principles of organization were needed to combine the icons into a single composition. Balance and proportion were utilized to arrange the symbols into various locations on the grid and some icons needed extra weight, or value, to balance their corresponding images while others needed directional adjustments to ensure fluid movement was achieved within the design. To address the “how”, or organization, component of the piece directly indicates the principles of organization and how they were used to place each icon in its specific location within the grid. Round objects were offset by sharp, jagged icons while darker symbols were placed within the composition based on lighter designs surrounding that area. The direction of some icons was adjusted to indicate internal movement. Balance, economy, proportion and contrast were all apparent in the organization of the piece.

When completed, the overall design felt cold and mechanical. While personally meaningful, the distance between objects resulted in an impersonal and detached product. The thought and effort poured into the project was neither apparent nor represented which left the piece hard and empty. Analyzing the “why” component of the work revealed this disappointment. Energy and soul were a large part of the creation of the composition but the fact that the end result was devoid of feeling made the piece emotionless and isolated. The remoteness of each symbol emitted an automated, rigid, measured sensation. Some movement was apparent within the design but as a whole the image became very static and hollow.


Not happy to leave my Symbol Grid in its current, disconnected state, I experimented with some compositional additions that kept to the spirit of the project. To that extent, I decided to go with some of the basic building block shapes that every symbol within my project contained: the square and the circle. I simply printed photographed copies of my project and drew my ideas on the prints.

Design ExperimentationsDesign Four

After four prints and about 10 design experimentation’s, I chose an idea based on print number four.

Symbol Grid Redesigned

As you can see, even the final version is slightly different from the chosen print experimentation. After adding the initial shapes to tie the piece together, the broken square – previously placed in the background as the farthest element from the viewer – was moved forward to reside within the middle ground of the piece. The circles were also darkened in contrast to the central square but nowhere near the thickness of the aforementioned broken square. The contrast in value between the four additional elements and the opposition to their traditional, assumed behavior regarding perspective – darker shapes advance while lighter shapes recede – leveled the image, once again, to a flat surface; however, with the modifications in place, the overall design became fluid, stimulating and sincere.

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Case In Point Mapping based on research by
Dr. Joan Giampa