Elementary Art Lessons, back to the basics.

How to show form, shape, modeling of your subject in oil painting.

Home > More painting lessons. > Elementary Art Lessons on form, shape.

In representational art, realism, or classical, all depend on showing the objects form, and shape to achieve what is considered a "real looking" three dimensional object onto a two dimension piece of canvas.

This elementary bit of art knowledge is called form, or modeling.  It's what is done on the canvas to mimic what the viewer is seeing.  It is something that is an integral part of realism.

Without form and modeling, you are creating other styles of painting, abstract, cubism or some forms of folk art.  It is the modeling that fools the eye into what appears to be three dimensional.  And when done correctly, you really can fool someone into thinking the image is a real object. 

At art shows, I've had folks have to touch my paintings to see if the dew drops were not hot glued on! 

In Trompe Le' oil (fool the eye) painting, where the subject matter is painted with a very short focal plane, it can be extremely effective when the modeling is executed well. 

illusionistic form elements

The following examples give the major components of objects painted and what each part is referred to when painting them.

Form and shape elementary art lesson

As time permits, I'll be adding more to this section of the site to help in showing some of the basic things we do as artist's that will become second nature to you in the future.  This elementary art lesson is necessary in order to understand when a person speaks about how a painting is constructed.

By showing you graphically (in pictures) what a half shadow, a reflection, or a cast shadow is, you will understand in the future what is meant by it.

Shadow in a painting

A few things to remember also.  The texture and finish of an object will also help you in showing form.  A hard shiny surface will have hard reflections and brilliant highlights.  A mat or soft surface will have muted highlights and shadows. 

Compare the differences found between the pear surface and the glossy pepper surface. These 2 round objects have slightly different characteristics that help define what their shape is, (both are round) but the texture of their surface must be handled differently.  Mat verses glossy.

Just remember this also.  Paint what you see, not what you think the item should look like. 

Best wishes, until next time............

Back to the top of elementary art lessons on form and shape.

Did you enjoy, or learn something from this page?  Why not create some good Karma, and pass it on? Face book like us, Pin the images you love, or Google + and let others feel the warmth!

Care to see more of my work?  Click here to head over to my fine art site at delmusphelps.com

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Looking for something?

(opens a new window)

More Lessons Related Pages

Sign up below for your free informative Easy Oils Blast! A news alert that keeps you informed of up-to-date changes, new demo's, and other juicy tid-bits about us here at Easy Oil Painting Techniques!

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Easy Oils BLAST!.

Still Life Instruction

learn oil painting, oil painting techniques

Flower Painting DVD
learn oil painting, oil painting techniques

Landscape Painting
oil painting demonstration

Highly Recommended

Insightful, and reinforces techniques and theories discussed here. What are you waiting for, go see for yourself! Read my complete review.

Mastering Color - Click here for more info.