Elements of Design: The Piebald Horse | Artopia


Line: Artists often start out working with line. Look at the outline of the spotted horse. This is called a skeletal shape. The long hairs in the horse’s mane and tail are lines. Several horizontal lines cross the painting, dividing it into three parts. About one-fourth of the way up there is a baseline of earth for the horse to stand on. The mountains on the horizon make another line across the picture, and the clouds above are a third line. The piebald horse stands with his feet on the earth and his head in the clouds.

Color and Value: Blue and green are cool colors; red, yellow and orange are warm. The colors in this painting are mostly cool, giving a peaceful, misty feeling to the scene. The horse stands out because he is white with black spots. Value is the relative lightness and darkness of colors, which artists use to make things look realistic. When there is no change in the value of the colors objects appear flat.

Form and Shape: A painting is a two-dimensional thing, but artists often want to create the illusion of three dimensions. This is called form. Potter has used changes in the values of his colors to create the rounded forms of the horse and the clouds. Notice how the belly of the horse goes from a darker gray to white as it rounds up to his back. You can see a similar effect in the clouds. On the other hand, the house and the hunting party are flat shapes in the distance.

Space: Space is the distance between things. One way artists create a feeling of space is by making objects different sizes. The mountains on the horizon are small, making them appear far away. The hunting party and the house are tiny, so that they look far away too. The piebald horse is very big compared to everything else. He seems close to us, and nearly alone in a wide-open space.

Texture: Texture is the way things feel or look like they would feel. Potter has created a smooth, glossy texture for the horse’s coat and mane. You can almost touch the softness of his speckled coat. He looks like a contented, well cared-for animal, as round and gleaming as a pearl or a cloud. His soft texture contrasts with the rough, rocky field he is standing on.