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The four elements are well-known - Fire, Water, Air and Earth

In Art they may be interpreted thus:- 

  • Fire - Desire, Heat, Re-birth, Torture, Inspiration
  • Water:- Emotion, Birth, Movement, Calm
  • Air:- Thought, Light, Peace, Turbulence
  • Earth:- Stability, Firmness, History, Growth

Using the elements in Art - we will use painting as our example on this occasion - is useful to provide a more meaningful component. The table above is not a full list, you could be inspired to think of your own additions. A thesaurus might  even help. If it helps you to create a painting of real depth, the elements will have been of use to you.

Van Gogh used turbulence in his beautiful blue skies where others may have tried to create a calm summer scene using a still panorama above the landscape. Wouldn't it have been a different effect if he had chosen the stillness, but still air, nevertheless. If you were looking for a different approach to your summer paintings you might try a turbulent air around your scenery or subject to provide movement.

The water in a painting decides the mood. Undisturbed it sparkles under the sky's light, brooding under the moonlight or lamplight. Tossed, it provides energy, threat to tossed boats, support to the floating debris.

Making fire an element of a painting can provide a background or more direct heat, light for faces against a dark background for chiaroscuro effect.  Fire provides a deeper meaning to the interaction between the subjects in the painting, a depth of feeling to enhance the expressions on faces. Use it as you will.

Finally, Earth:- Colour could be added to create meaning - a pale yellow, or dark brown for the austerity or richness of earth's place under everything. Green covering the earth representing its bounty and richer colours such as reds, purples for the royalty of its history and promise.

Use the elements to enrich your artworks. They provide abundant inspiration and give meaning to the work you never knew existed. See the response of viewers to the newness in your expressions of Art.

by Barbara Le Blanc. 




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