The painting, Arkansas Barley Fields, by Louis Freund is illustrated with a landscape, covered in greenish, brown grass, barleys, dark green trees, sky blue water and mountains. The sky above the mountains is blue with a few clouds, which may indicate that the time of day is evening or afternoon. This painting was made in 1939 and its medium is oil on a board. It is currently being shown at the Arkansas Art Center and measures approximately 18 inches by 24 inches. Arkansas Barley Fields illustrates multiple visual elements of art and also principles of design.
The visual elements employed consists of space, time and motion, and line. Multiple lines are shown in this painting; regular and irregular lines, implied line and communicative lines. Freud uses natural and organic lines for the landscape of this artwork. The grass located in the front of the barley and the barley itself illustrates irregular lines. Irregular lines at first, may seem chaotic and maybe even scribbled, which is exactly what seems to be the issue in the illustration of the barley. Though the lines seem scribbled, the painting as a whole is controlled and easy to view and comprehend.
Irregular lines can be described as free and unrestrained and are defined as the reflection of the wildness of nature, chaos and accident, unlike regular lines, which express control and planning. Regular lines are illustrated in the bark of the trees. The lineup of the trees not only express regular lines, but also implied line. In this artwork, implied line is shown in the lineup of the trees and also in the lineup of the barley. There is not an actual line portrayed but the way that the trees and barley are positioned causes an implied line.
Since Freud uses irregular lines in the illustration of the barley, the “chaos” would also be conveyed by using communicative diagonal lines, which express action; the barley blowing in the wind. This is also true in the illustration of the grass. The barley and the trees look of movement can be described as implied motion. The trees and barley aren’t actually moving, but the author’s lines suggest to the audience that they are definitely in motion. The communicative lines along with implied motion of the barley also gives the viewer a sense of the texture of the barley.
With the diagonal barley strands sticking out from the sides of the bushels, the viewer could comprehend that the texture of the barley is similar to that of hay; straw-like, smooth or rough, possible brittle. The barley is so detailed that it looks as if you pulled one of the strands hanging off of the side, you would see the whole grain. Not only does the author use diagonal lines, he also uses horizontal lines in the illustration of the water which conveys to the viewer the peacefulness of the artwork. Atmospheric perspective creates the illusion of depth.
The distant objects (the trees, barley and mountains) lack contrast, detail, sharpness and focus. The barley in the very front of this painting seems to be closer to the viewer because it’s shape is more defined and detailed, unlike the barley farther in the background, which lacks details, making it seem farther away. The principles of design, illustrated throughout this artwork are balance, unity and rhythm. This artwork depicts asymmetrical balance. When split down the middle, both sides are not identical or the same, but are still balanced due to similarities.
This concept is what makes this work asymmetrically balanced. The similarities in this artwork can also be conveyed as repetitiveness, which contributes to the principle, rhythm. Freud uses simple repeatative rhythm by using the same elements which sets up a visual rhythm to the viewers. Both large rhythmic progressions and micro rhythms work together to provide rhythm in this mountains, water and also in the use of color. The large rhythmic progressions guide our eyes all around the work as a whole. According to Elvis Presley, rhythm is either something you have or you don’t.
Arkansas Barley Fields definitely has it! Due to the repetition used in this painting, unity is also shown. Freud uses unity by organizing repetitions of shape, color and texture to create a visual harmony. Gestalt unity is also used to show the greatness of the work as a whole. This painting as a whole is much greater than “certain parts. ” The landscape, or field, surrounding the much detailed barley also has so much detail that without each other, the work would be less appealing. Without the visual elements and principles of design, Arkansas Barley Fields would have a much less effect to the viewer.
This painting gives the viewer a feeling of peace, regardless of certain elements used. This feeling is felt due to the artist’s use of motion and strong colors. The strong, dark colors provide the viewer with a personal feel of the field, as if the wind which moves the barley and grass from side to side is also giving you a gentle sway. The principles, unity and rhythm play a big part in this personal feeling. Without these principles, Arkansas Barley Fields would have a completely different meaning and would also give off a different feeling to the viewer.
Courtney from Study Moose
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