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Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art

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Beach Museum of Art
Kansas State University
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Manhattan, KS 66506


Gone: Photographs of Abandonment on the High Plains by Steve Fitch

The Artist/Photographer

A photographer is an artist and like a painter a photographer is aware of elements of art and composition. The photographer makes choices including subject matter, composition and cropping, whether to use color or black and white film, and what type of lighting will work best.


Line: Lines can be drawn or implied (e.g. between two colors). Lines help to define space and shapes can be expressive, can form patterns and textures, and help you move through a picture.

Shape/Form: A shape can be a two-dimensional (height and width) representation on a flat surface or it can be three-dimensional (height, width and depth) as in sculpture. A shape or form takes up positive space and is surrounded by negative space.

Color: 1. Hues: Primary colors - red, yellow, blue. Secondary colors - orange, green, violet (purple). 2. Value - how light or dark a color is. 3. Intensity is how bright a color appears.

Texture: The quality of a surface as we see it or feel it. Visual texture is an illusion, although the medium may have a texture of its own. Tactile texture is three dimensional and can be felt. Dull or matte textures absorb light, while shiny surfaces reflect light. Smooth surfaces reflect light evenly, while rough surfaces reflect light unevenly.

Composition: A painter chooses the above elements to express what he/she wants to communicate to the viewer. An understanding of them helps us organize visual composition and provides criteria for appreciation and evaluation (aesthetics).

Repetition: Repetition of elements can be used to create rhythm and movement.

Variety/Contrast: Variety or contrast of elements (e.g. color) and between positive and negative space can be used to achieve emphasis and focus (what your eye notices first).

Balance: The arrangement of the elements within a work to create equilibrium. Can be symmetrical (same on both sides) asymmetrical (unequal parts appear balanced) or radial (focus is on the center with work radiating around).

Proportion: The size of one part of a work in relation to other parts; can be used to denote space/perspective. When we have something "in proportion" it means that we have achieved a balanced relationship of the parts to the whole.

Perspective or the Illusion of Space: An artist can achieve the illusion of three-dimensionality on a two-dimensional surface by using perspective. Objects in the front of the picture are closer to us and appear larger than those in the back. Objects in front overlap those in back. Things in the front of the picture are clearer. Parallel lines appear to converge or get closer together as they go back in the picture.

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Gone: Photographs of Abandonment on the High Plains by Steve Fitch
Beach Museum of Art, February 1-April 10, 2005

Programming supported by the 
Kansas Arts Commission and the Bramlage Family Foundation