My Definition of a Primary Space:

When picture space is broken up it forms areas that are somewhat like puzzle pieces that fit together.

Primary spaces (the main break up of your picture)
are areas of your picture that can be identified by a shape.
These shapes can be abstract or descriptive.
Descriptive shapes are identifiable as things you can name - - like a cloud or a tree.
Abstract shapes are not things that can be named readily.

My Definition of a Secondary Space:

Secondary spatial areas are located within/inside the primary spaces.
These areas are usually not void (or empty) but are composed of numerous
kinds of descriptive detail - - visual information.
For example a leaf shape may be a part of your primary break up,
but the inner portions (secondary areas) are filled with details such as veins

When you begin to make a drawing or painting, the step one is thinking of your "primary breakup forms or objects".  You can think of this as the "What" part of the creative process. It is idea development. It is thinking through the image content in a  picture. Simple pictures (not always less interesting, pictures) will have a short list. 

Following is a sample of the idea building process where we actually think about what goes into a picture:

Developing an  Idea List:

Selection of Forms or Objects:
What will I choose for my theme?  You are now faced with an infinite set  of choices. You need to target one. What is current in your life? What do you like? What do you know something about? What is meaningful or expressive to an idea or attitude?  WHAT?? 
Here is one random example.

I choose "Garden Patch" as the subject or main idea of the picture.

Primary Breakup Form 1   foreground earth
(If we stop with that one watermelon it will be very boring.)

 Primary Breakup Form 2    Interesting tree -- others further away
 Primary Breakup Form 3    Flowers or Vines

 Primary Breakup Form 4    An interesting fence
 Primary Breakup Form 5    Bird on Fence
 Primary Breakup Form 6    Scarecrow
 Primary Breakup Form 7    Distant Hills
 Primary Breakup Form 8    An old tractor
 Primary Breakup Form 9    Skyline

 Primary Breakup Form 10  Clouds in Sky


After "brainstorming" the list above, we can think about how place and organize these forms in our picture. Each object listed will have its own space, size and qualities. The use of the space, the size and position of these objects, and detail.  This problem is focusing on PRIMARY BREAK UP. Therefore, do not worry too much about detail today.

The final part is the step of filling in the open areas of the primary breakup form. This phase can be called
development where you add your interpretations of color, tone, texture or detail so that your spaces
become rich and visually interesting.

If you look at a picture by Maxfield Parrish you will see the simplicity of the basic primary break up but the developed pictures are AMAZING because of the wonderful color, detail and textures that he uses inside of the primary outlines.


Make a list that is similar to the example above. List your main theme object, and then think of other objects which can fit in the environment of the theme object.

More About Art Ideas:

Art Subject Matter: Art Can Interpret a Theme:


About ideas: Any idea when transformed through a medium can become art. But --No idea, no art. Ideas are not hard to find. They come from our reactions to life.

The following list came from a single brainstorming session. When one brainstorms you come up with a whole lot of ideas, some will be useful others may just be discarded.

General Theme "Time"
Sub Themes:
Seasons as time: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer; A season to --- (plant, harvest, build, grow, suffer, destroy, want, plenty, trials;
Time as Age; age of innocence, golden age, in the prime, old age; Time the destroyer, victim of time, man's dilemma in the age of machines.

General Theme "Love": Self absorbing love, brotherly love; Love as lust;
Lust for --- (money, power, fame, blood)

Love unrequited love, unloving, love goddess; Love of --- (country, justice, peace, security, etc;

General Theme "Realms":
Realms as rooms; Old rooms, large rooms, small rooms, pool rooms, bar rooms, school rooms, light rooms, dark rooms;
Realms as worlds
; new world, old world, day world, night world, business world, other world, other worldly;
Outer space, Fairy land, Mother Goose land, --- Sea places, air places, rocky places, sandy places, glassy places, grassy places; mountains and seas, animal homes, the realm of dreams;

General Theme, "Feelings": Joy, Sorrow, Loneliness, Longing, Longing for --- ,
Feelings of Confusion, Frustration, Hatred of --

General Theme, "Social Concerns": Roles of people; Issues of life and death; Heaven and hell; Peace, Security, Being with people; Parties,
Wild or interesting characters, Caricatures;
Mothers, Fathers, Clergy, Human rights, Generation gap;

General Theme, "Institutions": Home scenes; Sport scenes; Entertainment industry; Hospitals, Politics, Religious themes;

General Theme, "Art Abstraction":
Abstract art can be of several kinds: (Abstract art is not easier; It is more complex!)
Expressionist Abstract: "expressionistic" a category of art that brings emotional expression through distortion and extreme colors. Color can become symbolic such as green for envy and red for passion or energy; At times expressionism appears distorted or chaotic and quite out of control. This kind frequently gets a response like, "My two year old kid could do better than that!" In cases like that the view is probably missing a lot of the visual content within the work. Another kind is intellectual abstraction that tries to develop a sense of relationship between lines, forms and color. Relationship can be such as small to large, dark to light, rough to smooth, curved to strait, etc. Sometimes this kind of art can be very precise but yet hard to interpret. Abstract Symbolic: Symbolism is another area allowing freedom of interpretation.
The actual content may use objects to represent other meanings than "reality."

Art Ideas: Viewing and Interpretation Reality

Real subjects taken from observation (or Nature) The artist looks, observes, captures the essence of things he is studying. Observation provides an unlimited source for drawings, paintings and design. Human beings have interpreted the natural world since before the Egyptians.
Approaches to interpreting reality can vary a lot. From photo realism to semi realism. Some artists use nature for a source of "motifs' which are then used in a decorative crafty way.
Design can be stylized from known forms: Clay designs with fish on them for example or clothing printed with flower patterns.

The ability to draw or paint realistically is not the only basis for 'good work' from nature. It is an even more important to bring out a personal viewpoint or interpretation than to make it look like a photo. Ordinary sights from everyday life would be a great treasure if we only had them from some observer who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago. Likewise your own every day life and environment would be a treasure to anyone who might wonder what life was like when you went to school as a young person.

Human subjects:
Working, Playing, Studying, Working out, Playing a sport; The very fact that the action is so common place usually makes it a very good candidate for a picture. But at the same time, because it is so common we think it is not a good idea. Treasures from everyday life might include your mom in the kitchen with an apron, your father on the tractor with his cap. Your little brother sprawled in front of the TV, your sister styling her hair with a blow dryer.

Outdoor Subjects (landscape scenes)
Places in the wild, out of doors; Buildings, Fields, Trees, Fence Rows; Rivers or Lakes; Natural park; Townscapes or Cityscapes are details of buildings and streets; Views of the streets and store fronts.

Indoor Subjects, (Interiors)
Interesting places seen from the inside; Living rooms, dining rooms, ball rooms, bedrooms, basements, bathrooms, studios, deserted rooms, malls.

Still life Subjects,  all sorts of objects, flowers, fruit, vegetables, non living forms, displayed for composition for paintings or drawings.

 Wheaton Minnesota High School
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