Romare Bearden

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Analysis of the Visual Elements in Romare Bearden

Good works of art need best designers, and best designers of art incorporate the use of visual elements in their work to create an intended impression in the mind of viewers (Stecker, 1996).  In Romare Bearden’s work, both visual and design elements are employed to create a certain impression on the observers and they are discussed in this essay.

 In the painting, the designer uses actual lines and geometric shapes to draw the walls of the house, heads of people, traffic lights and other features. Most of the lines used in the artwork are linear in shape so as to decorate features like walls and human face. They are also used to create hatching. The mass in the painting is implied. It is an illusion of both weight and volume since it is not actual and measurable (Stecker, 1996).

The artist has created space by drawing overlapping objects. For instance, the walls of the house, windows, and traffic lights appear on top of people’s heads. The shading adds marks of gradation to the walls of the house, which causes them to appear three dimensional. There is also a creation of a linear perspective which makes some objects, like the cat on top of the roof, appear small in the atmospheric perspective.

 In this particular painting, motion is evident by the moving cat on the roof and the movement of human fingers/hands. Implied motion is depicted in the artwork by the cat and the human faces, which are leaning to one direction of movement. For instance, the cat on the roof leans to the left, which is its direction of movement at that moment. While actual motion is depicted by the movement of the lips (opening of the mouth), fingers and hand by the people in the foreground.

The painting has an illusion of light, which is created using bright colors (Fichner-Rathus, 2011). In trying to capture the penetrating light color in the middle ground streaming through the walls of the buildings, the artist left the color of the cloud and some buildings in the background bare, thereby allowing the color brightness of the following paint layers in the foreground. The particular element exemplifying this strategy are the front walls of the house heightened to levels that are extreme, thus creating the light illusion. This light is seen by its value on the objects. In the painting, the artist uses implied light. The observer is unable to see the light source simply because the waves crash against the walls of the buildings making them highlighted with minimal value contrast. However, the artwork has a strong value contrast between the clouds and the buildings. Other objects like the people and the building share medium light. This makes the observer assume that the light rays are emanating from the white person in the middle ground.

The artist mixed different colors in the painting to assist him in organizing his work as well as to create emphasis on the object hierarchy. For instance, he uses black color of people in the foreground, followed by some bright colors like orange in middle ground, while the background is painted with a bit dark colors like blue. The texture of the canvas is implied. The objects in the painting look rough or bumpy. They appear in a disorderly manner, edging and overlapping each other.

Design Principals in Romare Bearden

Visual unity is achieved in the painting by the relevance of objects (Fichner-Rathus, 2011). No object is perceived more useful than the whole design. In this design, a variety of comfortable objects are employed. For instance, the location of the people is in unity with the buildings, the cat, the traffic right etc. Every object has a non-competing space with the other, thereby creating asymmetry between the objects.

Emphasis in the design is created by the use of colors. This makes the foreground and the background focal point. There is a big contrast between the two elements, the structure and the people. In foreground, structures are poor compared to those in the background. People in foreground are many, unhappy, black in color and somehow crying compared to those in the background. Thus, the emphasis is on the people in the foreground, while the subordination is on the one person in the background

The repeated lines between the objects in the painting create a path followed by the eyes (Fichner-Rathus, 2011). For instance, the lines between the walls of the house and the traffic light create a direction for the eyes to see the seated person in the background. The variation of color between the background and the foreground also creates contrast. The foreground is dark colored, which can be assumed as the color of the people in the angry mood, while the background has bright colors with one person seated. There is the repetition of visual elements like color - the orange color on the walls, black color on the people in the foreground. There is also repetition with lines and texture - the bumpy fore, middle and back grounds which create the rhythm in the painting. Scale and proportion employed is relative to the object size. In the foreground, one person has relatively big head than the rest of people. There are also four people in foreground while one is seen in the middle ground. The buildings in the middle ground appears taller and descent than those in the foreground. All this is used to emphasize the focal point (Stecker, 1996).

 The art piece by Romare Bearden contains a message of disparity between different people in the society. There are those who are angry, hungry, stressed and poor in the societies. They are many in number. They appear in the foreground with poor house structures and painted in black to show that they are suffering. There are also the rich, who are a few in number, less stressed and living in good houses in the background. 

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