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Elements of Painting

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Elements of painting
Medium/Media Line Tone/ Value Texture

Color Purity Color Style Shape Perspective Volume/Space


This element answers: what of piece of painting. What is the painting about? The artist knows what his subject is.

This refers to the materials by the artist by his painting. Different types of paint are usually identified by the medium that the pigment is suspended or embedded in, which determines the general working characteristics of the paint, such as viscosity, miscibility, solubility, drying time, etc

Lines enclose forms, and mark either edges where two planes intersect, or the bounding contour of an object seen against a distant background. More than shapes, lines have an authority of their own, creating movement, integration and texture.

is the degree of light or dark in an element. Unless the work is a drawing, or employs only grays, tone also enters into the qualities of a color, along with hue and purity. Tone may create mood ( dark tones for threat or mystery), drama (wide tonal range) or emphasis (highlighting the object of interest).

is the visual patterning, and may be abstract (the fluidity of glazes or watercolor) or informative (a silk dress looks very different from one in satin). In the absence of other features, texture may help to create pleasing diversity, to focus interest, and/or impose a necessary unity on the work.

is the color itself, the specific wavelength. Colors create complex physiological and psychological effects in the viewer, and hues are therefore a primary means of obtaining or enhancing the emotional impact of a work.

Color Purity
refers to the vibrancy and intensity of a hue, its freedom from admixtures of other hues. Pure colors are colors of a single wavelength, and have the dazzling clarity of stained glass windows quite unreal, to be used with the greatest caution. But the infinite gradations possible, combined with tone and hue, makes color purity an expressive device in the hands of a sensitive and experienced painter.

In many styles and periods of painting, the functions of colour are primarily decorative and descriptive, often serving merely to reinforce the expression of an idea or subject communicated essentially in terms of line and tone. In much of modern painting, however, the full-spectrum range of pigments available has allowed colour to be the primary expressive element.

'Style' is used in two senses: It can refer to the distinctive visual elements, techniques and methods that typify an individual artist's work. It can also refer to the movement or school that an artist is associated with. This can stem from an actual group that the artist was consciously involved with or it can be a category in which art historians have placed the painter. The word 'style' in the latter sense has fallen out of favor in academic discussions about contemporary painting, though it continues to be used in popular contexts.

Areas closed off by line, or differences of tone, texture and color. Shapes have an abstract quality, and are often regarded as positive (enclosing recognizable objects in the painting) or negative (areas left between or around recognizable objects). Shapes interact, and independently evoke sensations of repose, agitation, purposeful energy, direction, etc.

The technique of linear perspective allows artists to simulate or construct the appearance of three dimensional space on a two dimensional surface. It is one of the major innovations of European art, with an extraordinary impact on western visual culture from the 15th to the 19th centuries.

The perceptual and conceptual methods of representing volume and space on the flat surface of a painting are related to the two levels of understanding spatial relationships in everyday life. Perceptual space is the view of things at a particular time and from a fixed position. Illusions of perceptual space are generally created by use of the linear perspectival system, based on the observations that objects appear to the eye to shrink and parallel lines and planes to converge as they approach the horizon, or viewers eye level.

illusionist: created with linear perspective, aerial perspective (distant objects lose contrast and detail), size (far away objects are smaller), overlap (near objects obscure those further away). two dimensional: objects are deformed into and modeled on the flat surface of the canvas: Cezanne and much modernist painting. flat patterning: objects are shown as decorative theater flats, without linear perspective: Persian miniatures and some medieval western painting. oriental: a palpable sense of emptiness, with objects as it were coalescing out of this emptiness: traditional Chinese landscapes. self-created: act of painting creates its own sense of space, which is localized and not predetermined: some modern art. primitive: objects are randomly distributed, with no immediately obvious controlling feature: primitive, naive and children's art.

Examples of Media
Acrylic Dry pastel Enamel paint Encaustic (wax) Fresco Gouache Ink Light Oil Oil pastel Spray paint (Graffiti) Tempera Water miscible oil paint Watercolor

-is fast-drying paint containing pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints can be diluted with water, but become water-resistant when dry. Depending on how much the paint is diluted (with water) or modified with acrylic gels, mediums, or pastes, the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolor or an oil painting, or have its own unique characteristics not attainable with other media.

Dry pastel
-is an art medium in the form of a stick, consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all colored art media, including oil paints; the binder is of a neutral hue and low saturation.

Enamel paint
-is a paint that air dries to a hard, usually glossy, finish. In reality, most commerciallyavailable enamel paints are significantly softer than either vitreous enamel or stoved synthetic resins.
-Some enamel paints have been made by adding varnish to oil-based paint.

Encaustic (wax)
-also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. The liquid/paste is then applied to a surface usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are often used.
-The simplest encaustic mixture can be made from adding pigments to beeswax, but there are several other recipes that can be used some containing other types of waxes, damar resin, linseed oil, or other ingredients. Pure, powdered pigments can be purchased and used, though some mixtures use oil paints or other forms of pigment.

-(plural either frescos or frescoes) is any of several related painting types, done on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Italian word affresco which derives from the adjective fresco ("fresh"), which has Latin origins. Frescoes were often made during the Renaissance and other early time periods.

-the name of which derives from the Italian guazzo, water paint, splash or bodycolor (the term preferred by art historians) is a type of paint consisting of pigment suspended in water. Gouache differs from watercolor in that the particles are larger, the ratio of pigment to water is much higher, and an additional, inert, white pigment such as chalk is also present. Like all watermedia, it is diluted with water. (Gum Arabic is also present as a binding agent, just as in water color.) This makes gouache heavier and more opaque, with greater reflective qualities.

-is an East Asian type of brush painting also known as wash painting or by its Japanese name sumi-e (). Ink and wash painting is also known by its Chinese name shui-mo hua ( , Japanese suibokuga ( ?), Korean sumukhwa).
-Only black ink the same as used in East Asian calligraphy is used, in various concentrations. -In Western art works on paper in similar techniques are generally classified with drawings.

-also known as light drawing or light graffiti is a photographic technique in which exposures are made usually at night or in a darkened room by moving a hand-held light source or by moving the camera. In many cases the light source itself does not have to appear in the image. The term light painting also encompasses images lit from outside the frame with hand-held light sources.

-is the process of painting with pigments that are bound with a medium of drying oil especially in early modern Europe, linseed oil. Often an oil such as linseed was boiled with a resin such as pine resin or even frankincense; these were called 'varnishes' and were prized for their body and gloss. Other oils occasionally used include poppyseed oil, walnut oil, and safflower oil. These oils confer various properties to the oil paint, such as less yellowing or different drying times. Certain differences are also visible in the sheen of the paints depending on the oil. Painters often use different oils in the same painting depending on specific pigments and effects desired. The paints themselves also develop a particular feel depending on the medium.

Oil pastel
-is a painting and drawing medium with characteristics similar to pastels and wax crayons. Unlike "soft" or "French" pastel sticks, which are made with a gum or methyl cellulose binder, oil pastels consist of pigment mixed with a non-drying oil and wax binder. The surface of an oil pastel painting is therefore less powdery, but more difficult to protect with a fixative.

Spray paint (Graffiti)

is a painting technique where a device sprays a coating (paint, ink, varnish etc.) through the air onto a surface. The most common types employ compressed gas usually air compressed by an air compressor to atomize and direct the paint particles. Spray guns developed from airbrushes and the two are usually distinguished by their size and the size of the spray pattern they produce. Airbrushes are hand held and used instead of a brush for detailed work such as photo retouching, painting nails or fine art. Air gun spraying uses equipment that is generally larger. It is typically used for covering large surfaces with an even coating of liquid. Spray guns can be either automated or hand-held and have interchangeable heads to allow for different spray patterns.

-also known as egg tempera, is a permanent fast drying painting medium consisting of colored pigment mixed with a water-soluble binder medium (usually a glutinous material such as egg yolk or some other size). Tempera also refers to the paintings done in this medium. Tempera paintings are very long lasting, and examples from the first centuries AD still exist. Egg tempera was a primary method of painting until after 1500 when it was superseded by the invention of oil painting. -A version of tempera consisting of pigment and glue size is commonly used and referred to by some manufacturers in America as poster paint.

Water miscible oil paint

-is a modern variety of oil paint which is engineered to be thinned and cleaned up with water, rather than having to use chemicals such as turpentine. It can be mixed and applied using the same techniques as traditional oil-based paint, but while still wet it can be effectively removed from brushes, palettes, and rags with ordinary soap and water. -Its water solubility comes from the use of an oil medium in which one end of the molecule has been altered to bind loosely to water molecules, as in a solution.

-is a painting method. A watercolor is the medium or the resulting artwork, in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water soluble vehicle. The traditional and most common support for watercolor paintings is paper; other supports include papyrus, bark papers, plastics, vellum or leather, fabric, wood, and canvas. In East Asia, watercolor painting with inks is referred to as brush painting or scroll painting. -In Chinese, Korean, and Japanese painting it has been the dominant medium, often in monochrome black or browns. India, Ethiopia and other countries also have long traditions. Fingerpainting with watercolor paints originated in China.

Examples of Style

-uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.

Abstract Expressionism
-was an American post World War II art movement. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence and put New York City at the center of the western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris.

Art Brut
-a label created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture; Dubuffet focused particularly on art by insane-asylum inmates.

Art Deco
-was a popular international art design movement from 1925 until the 1940s, affecting the decorative arts such as architecture, interior design, and industrial design, as well as the visual arts such as fashion, painting, the graphic arts, and film. At the time, this style was seen as elegant, glamorous, functional, and modern.

-is an artistic style prevalent from the late 16th century to the early 18th century. -The popularity and success of the Baroque style was encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church, which had decided at the time of the Council of Trent that the arts should communicate religious themes in direct and emotional involvement. The aristocracy also saw the dramatic style of Baroque architecture and art as a means of impressing visitors and expressing triumphant power and control. Baroque palaces are built around an entrance of courts, grand staircases and reception rooms of sequentially increasing opulence.

Body painting
-is a form of body art, considered by some as the most ancient form of art. Unlike tattoo and other forms of body art, body painting is temporary, painted onto the human skin, and lasts for only several hours, or at most (in the case of Mehndi or "henna tattoo") a couple of weeks. Body painting that is limited to the face is known as face painting. Body painting is also referred to as (a form of) temporary tattoos; large scale or full-body painting is more commonly referred to as body painting, while smaller or more detailed work is generally referred to as temporary tattoos.

Color field
-is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to Abstract Expressionism, while many of its notable early proponents were among the pioneering Abstract Expressionists.

-was an artistic and architectural movement that originated in Russia from 1919 onward which rejected the idea of "art for art's sake" in favour of art as a practice directed towards social purposes. Constructivism as an active force lasted until around 1934, having a great deal of effect on developments in the art of the Weimar Republic and elsewhere, before being replaced by Socialist Realism. Its motifs have sporadically recurred in other art movements since.

Contemporary art
-can be defined variously as art produced at this present point in time or art produced since World War II. The definition of the word contemporary would support the first view, but museums of contemporary art commonly define their collections as consisting of art produced since World War II.

-was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music and literature. The first branch of cubism, known as "Analytic Cubism", was both radical and influential as a short but highly significant art movement between 1907 and 1911 in France. In its second phase, Synthetic Cubism, the movement spread and remained vital until around 1919, when the Surrealist movement gained popularity.

Digital painting
-is an emerging art form in which traditional painting techniques such as watercolor, oils, impasto, etc. are applied using digital tools by means of a computer, a digitizing tablet and stylus, and software. Traditional painting is painting with a physical medium as opposed to a more modern style like digital.

-was a cultural movement originating in Germany at the start of the 20th-century as a reaction to positivism and other artistic movements such as naturalism and impressionism. It sought to express the meaning of "being alive and emotional experience rather than physical reality. It is the tendency of an artist to distort reality for an emotional effect; it is a subjective art form.

-were a short-lived and loose grouping of early 20th century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism.

Figuration libre
-is a French art movement of the 1980s. It is the French equivalent of Bad Painting and Neoexpressionism in America and Europe, Junge Wilde in Germany and Transvanguardia in Italy.

-encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic.

-was an art movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It was largely an Italian phenomenon, though there were parallel movements in Russia, England and elsewhere.

-is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property. Graffiti is sometimes regarded as a form of art and other times regarded as unsightly damage or unwanted.
-Graffiti is any type of public markings that may appear in the forms of simple written words to elaborate wall paintings.

-is painting in which abrupt transitions are found between color areas. Color areas are often of one unvarying color. Color transitions often take place along straight lines, though curvilinear edges of color areas are also common. The Hard-edge painting style is related to Geometric abstraction, Op Art, Postpainterly Abstraction, and Color Field painting.

-is a genre of painting and sculpture resembling a high resolution photograph. Hyperrealism is a fully-fledged school of art and can be considered as an advancement of Photorealism by the methods used to create the resulting photorealistic paintings or sculptures.

-was a 19th-century art movement that began as a loose association of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence in the 1870s and 1880s.
-Characteristics of Impressionist paintings include visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles.

Lyrical abstraction
-is an American art movement that emerged in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and then Toronto and London during the 1960s - 1970s. Characterized by intuitive and loose paint handling, spontaneous expression, illusionist space, acrylic staining, process, occasional imagery, and other painterly and newer technological techniques.

-is a period of European art that emerged from the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520. It lasted until about 1580 in Italy, when a more Baroque style began to replace it, but Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century throughout much of Europe. Stylistically, Mannerism encompasses a variety of approaches influenced by, and reacting to, the harmonious ideals and restrained naturalism associated with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and early Michelangelo. Mannerism is notable for its intellectual sophistication as well as its artificial (as opposed to naturalistic) qualities.

-describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is stripped down to its most fundamental features. As a specific movement in the arts it is identified with developments in postWorld War II Western Art, most strongly with American visual arts in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

-is a term that refers to artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s through the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of experimentation. Modern artists experimented with new ways of seeing, and with fresh ideas about the nature of materials and functions of art. A tendency toward abstraction is characteristic of much modern art. More recent artistic production is often called Contemporary art or Postmodern art.

Nave art
-is characterized by a childlike simplicity. It is a gross oversimplification to assume that nave art is created by people with little or no formal art training.

-is the name given to quite distinct movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw upon Western classical art and culture (usually that of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome). These movements were dominant during the mid 18th to the end of the 19th century.

Op art
-also known as optical art, is a genre of visual art that makes use of optical illusions. -"Optical Art is a method of painting concerning the interaction between illusion and picture plane, between understanding and seeing. Op art works are abstract, with many of the better known pieces made in only black and white.

-refers to the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists. An "Orientalist" may be a person engaged in these activities, but it is also the traditional term for any scholar of Oriental studies.

- Orphism aimed to gradually dispense with recognisable subject matter and to rely on form and colour alone to communicate meaning. The movement also aimed to express the ideals of Simultanism-the existence of an infinitude of interrelated states of being.

-Outsider art has emerged as a successful art marketing category (an annual Outsider Art Fair has taken place in New York since 1992). The term is sometimes misapplied as a catch-all marketing label for art created by people outside the mainstream "art world," regardless of their circumstances or the content of their work

-The opposite character is linear, plastic or formal linear design. The term "painterly" serves to illuminate one aspect of painting when the viewer wants to begin to deepen h' understanding of art. Painterliness in itself is insignificant and as such does not contribute to the quality of a work.

-is the genre of painting based on making a painting from a photograph. The term is primarily applied to paintings from the United States photorealism art movement that began in the late 1960s, early 1970s.

-is the application of a very thin line of paint or other material called a pin stripe, and is generally used for decoration. Freehand pin stripers use a specialty brush known as a pinstriping brush. Fine lines in textiles are also called pin stripes.

-is used, often in different ways, across a wide range of topics to denote a diversity of views, and stands in opposition to one single approach or method of interpretation

-is a style of painting in which small distinct dots of color create the impression of a wide selection of other colors and blending. Aside from color "mixing" phenomena, there is the simpler graphic phenomenon of depicted imagery emerging from disparate points. Historically, Pointillism has been a figurative mode of executing a painting, as opposed to an abstract modality of expression.

Pop art
-is a visual art movement that emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art challenged tradition by asserting that an artist's use of the massproduced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art.

Post-painterly abstraction
-which had obtained some currency in the 1960s, was gradually supplanted by Minimalism, Hard-edge painting, Lyrical Abstraction and Color Field painting.

-literally means 'after the modernist movement'. While "modern" itself refers to something "related to the present", the movement of modernism and the following reaction of postmodernism are defined by a set of perspectives. It is used in critical theory to refer to a point of departure for works of literature, drama, architecture, cinema, and design, as well as in marketing and business and in the interpretation of history, law, culture and religion in the late 20th century.

-also known as Cubist Realism, was an artistic movement that emerged in the United States after World War I and was at its height during the interWar period. The term itself was first coined in the early 1920s.


-is characterized by a childlike simplicity. It is a gross oversimplification to assume that nave art is created by people with little or no formal art training.

-in the visual arts and literature is the depiction of subjects as they appear in everyday life, without embellishment or interpretation. The term also describes works of art which, in revealing a truth, may emphasize the ugly or sordid.

-is an American realist modern art movement that was popular during the 1930s. The artistic focus was from artists who shunned city life, and rapidly developing technological advances, to create scenes of rural life.

-is a style of 18th century French art and interior design. Rococo rooms were designed as total works of art with elegant and ornate furniture, small sculptures, ornamental mirrors, and tapestry complementing architecture, reliefs, and wall paintings. It was largely supplanted by the Neoclassic style.

Romantic realism
-is an aesthetic term that usually refers to art combines elements of both romanticism and realism. Although the terms "romanticism" and "realism" have been used in varied ways, they are typically seen as opposed to one another. Romantic realists combine elements from each tradition.

-is a complex artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Western Europe, and gained strength during the Industrial Revolution. It was partly a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature, and was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature.

Socialist realism
-is a teleologically-oriented style of realistic art which has as its purpose the furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism. Although related, it should not be confused with social realism, a type of art that realistically depicts subjects of social concern.

Street art
-is any art developed in public spaces that is, "in the streets" though the term usually refers to unsanctioned art, as opposed to government sponsored initiatives. The term can include traditional graffiti artwork, stencil graffiti, sticker art, wheatpasting and street poster art, video projection, art intervention, guerrilla art, flash mobbing and street installations. Typically, the term street art or the more specific post-graffiti is used to distinguish contemporary publicspace artwork from territorial graffiti, vandalism, and corporate art.

-is an international art movement that was founded in 1999 in Britain by Billy Childish (who left in 2001) and Charles Thomson to promote figurative painting in opposition to conceptual art.

-is a postmodern art movement, founded by the artist Takashi Murakami, which is influenced by manga and anime. It is also the name of a 2001 art exhibition, curated by Murakami, that toured West Hollywood, Minneapolis and Seattle. The term is used by Murakami to refer to various flattened forms in Japanese graphic art, animation, pop culture and fine arts, as well as the "shallow emptiness of Japanese consumer culture. A self-proclaimed art movement, it was a successful piece of niche marketing, a branded art phenomenon designed for Western audiences.

-is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members.
-Surrealist works feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur; however, many Surrealist artists and writers regard their work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost, with the works being an artifact.

-was a French style of abstract painting in the 1940s and 1950s. It is often considered to be the European equivalent to abstract expressionism. Other names for this movement are L'Art Informel (similar to action painting) and abstraction lyrique (related to American Lyrical Abstraction).

-is an artistic style that emerged in the 1880s when American artists began to paint landscape forms with an overall tone of colored atmosphere or mist. Dark, neutral hues, such as gray, brown or blue, would usually dominate such compositions. During the late 1890s American art critics began to use the term "tonal" to describe these works.

Components of colors

Color wheel

Is the material that changes the color of light it reflects as the result of selective color absorption. This physical process differs from fluorescence, phosphorescence, and other forms of luminescence, in which the material itself emits light. Many materials selectively absorb certain wavelengths of light. Materials that humans have chosen and developed for use as pigments usually have special properties that make them ideal for coloring other materials. A pigment must have a high tinting strength relative to the materials it colors. It must be stable in solid form at ambient temperatures. Pigments are granular solids incorporated into the paint to contribute color, toughness, texture or simply to reduce the cost of the paint. Alternatively, some paints contain dyes instead of or in combination with pigments.

The binder, commonly referred to as the vehicle, is the actual film forming component of paint. It is the only component that must be present; other components listed below are included optionally, depending on the desired properties of the cured film. The binder imparts adhesion, binds the pigments together, and strongly influences such properties as gloss potential, exterior durability, flexibility, and toughness. Binders include synthetic or natural resins such as acrylics, polyurethanes, polyesters, melamine resins, epoxy, or oils. Binders can be categorized according to drying, or curing mechanism. The four most common are simple solvent evaporation, oxidative crosslinking, catalyzed polymerization, and coalescence. There are others.

The main purposes of the solvent are to adjust the curing properties and viscosity of the paint. It is volatile and does not become part of the paint film. It also controls flow and application properties, and affects the stability of the paint while in liquid state. Its main function is as the carrier for the non volatile components. In order to spread heavier oils (i.e. linseed) as in oil-based interior housepaint, a thinner oil is required. These volatile substances impart their properties temporarilyonce the solvent has evaporated or disintegrated, the remaining paint is fixed to the surface.

ingredients, paint can have a wide variety of miscellaneous additives, which are usually added in very small amounts and yet give a very significant effect on the product. Some examples include additives to modify surface tension, improve flow properties, improve the finished appearance, increase wet edge, improve pigment stability, impart antifreeze properties, control foaming, control skinning, etc. Other types of additives include catalysts, thickeners, stabilizers, emulsifiers, texturizers, adhesion promoters, UV stabilizers, flatteners (de-glossing agents), biocides to fight bacterial growth, and the like. Additives normally do not alter the percentages of individual components in a formulation

Color changing paint

Various technologies exist for making paints that change color. Thermochromic paints and coatings contain materials that change conformation when heat is applied, and so they change color. Liquid crystals have been used in such paints, such as in the thermometer strips and tapes used in fishtanks. Photochromic paints and coatings contain dyes that change conformation when the film is exposed to UV light, and so they change color. These materials are used to make eyeglasses.

Linear Perspective
The horizon line runs across the canvas at the eye level of the viewer. The horizon line is where the sky appears to meet the ground. The vanishing point should be located somewhere on the horizon line. The vanishing point is where all parallel lines (orthogonals) that run towards the horizon line appear to come together. Orthogonal lines are "visual imaginary rays" helping the viewer's eye to connect points around the canvas to the vanishing point. An artist uses them to align the edges of all elements.