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This essay looks at the artwork by William Bouguereau in the painting The Elder Sister. It examines the design elements and principles applied in the artwork. Further, this essay evaluates the appropriate use of the elements and the effects that they have on the overall interpretation of the painting. According to this piece of work, the artist has been almost idealistic in his paintings. He has placed a perfect background as well as perfect balance of the painted photo. This marks the cause of the original popularity of this painting, which appears to be picking up lately. (Kilmer R and Kilmer W, 1992)

The painting exemplifies a near perfect use of the 3F’s as elements of art. This basically represents “Form Follows Function” where form is the physical appearance and function is what the painting serves to do. Looking at the picture one gets an impression that the painter meant to portray a picture of a young lady who is obsessed with her little sibling. This therefore comes out clearly from the use of the idyllic background that certainly creates the mood of affection. Furthermore, the magical smile in the face of the young girl tells all about just how happy she is to be holding the little baby. As a matter of fact, the painter has achieved a lot concerning the use of the elements of 3F’s in this painting. The image looks exactly like what it was meant to portray. (Pile, 2007)

The idyllic representation of the background and by extension the foreground shows a perfect use of the artistic element of space. The distance of the foreground was well chosen for this painting. This is because the two kids are not too close to the viewer as to exaggerate their physical appearance nor too far away in the background as to hide certain features that would be important in portraying the intended message. Besides, the distance of coverage of the background is just enough to convey a message of simplicity and comfort that is manifested in the faces of the images. Two dimensional representation of the painting seems to befit the intended purpose. That is, the relative lengths of the little girl and the baby are perfectly representative of their ages. Indeed, it would look disproportional if the lengths used here were exaggerated. For instance, a case of the smaller kid carrying the older girl would not only look unrealistic, but also artistically vague. Besides this, the painter has included only relevant things in the negative space. This is the space around and about the actual image of concern. The use of green growing grass is a perfect manifest of hope and happiness. This serves to lay emphasis on the prevalent mood. (Kilmer R. & Kilmer W, 1992)

The artistic art of line also appears to have been used conspicuously. This is contained in the continuity of the movements along the surface as well as the image itself. As a matter of fact, the lines used in these images are too thin to even notice that they were drawn by hand. This fine art element used by the painter brings the aspect of live representation. It’s arguable that one would easily confuse the images for an actual photograph rather than a piece of painting. Furthermore, the lengths and curves used on the background, particularly on the clouds clearly befit a two dimensional image. Although the viewer of this painting would appreciate that it may not be a perfect representation of an image due to the fact that it looks ideal without any imperfections, what comes out clear is that the typical outfit is appealing. The wavy patterns on the sky as well as the zig-zag lines representing the folding lines of their clothes appropriately fit the image. (Nielson and Taylor, 2002)

The coloring aspect of the painting clearly does not betray the artistic prowess of the painter. Ideally, coloring of any painting is looked at from the aspect of how light reflects from a surface. The color that appears on the skins of the little girl as well as the baby shows a good use of the element of light. Indeed, it serves to naturally speak about the actual color of their skin and extension of their race. In this respect, the viewer has no reason to doubt the race of the people in the painting as the coloring tells it all. Furthermore, the contrasting of colors has also been used to lay emphasis on certain particular parts of the image. For instance, the use of a dull color for the negative space as well as the background gives an impression that the painter meant to draw particularly more attention to certain things other than the background. Indeed, the focus of the painting is the image of the two children. This is clear from the bright coloring that has been used in it. In addition, the use of monochromatic colors on the background especially on the clouds brings the impression of a prevailing harmony. (Kilmer R. & Kilmer W, 1992)

Shape as an element used in the painting implies the region that stands out from the surrounding space bordering the painting due to the use of colors or textures of different descriptions. For instance, the differential coloring that exists between the image of the girl and the clouds above her head clearly manifests a perfect use of space. Further, the principle comes out very clearly between the coloring of their body and that of their attire. This has been achieved by a near absolute pattern of the colors overlapping one another. In this respect, it may be rightly deduced that this appealing representation of shapes was meant to add some more interest to the main subject of the painting. Furthermore, the use of landscape like the small trees and the immediate grounds brings a perfect contrast with the “live” images and greatly serves to make them stick out conspicuously. This cannot be missed by the attention of the viewer as it forms the basic interrelation between the two. (Kilmer R. & Kilmer W, 1992)

This artistic work applies to a great extent the principle of implied texture. This appears on the background as well as on the actual image. This is the phenomenon in painting whereby the texture of an image looks exactly how it feels in real life. For instance, the painter depicts the skins of the little kids as being near ideally smooth and without marks. This in some way adds to his impression of perfectionism that he intended to portray in the paintings from the beginning. Moreover, the clearly rough texture of the foreground where the ground is situated fits the situation. It would have obviously looked unrealistic had he put some other kind of texture especially a smooth one. This is because it is impractical to have a natural surface existing in a smooth form. This is a good application of the element and shows his mastery of the subject. Although he intended to create a perfect image without any imperfections, he is awake to the fact that extreme perfectionism is clearly unrealistic. (Nielson & Taylor, 2002)

The element of form also appears in the painting works. This is the aspect of representation of geometric appearance as well as the natural looks of the images. In this painting, the element of form has been implemented by the use texture and color. For instance, the bright coloring of the actual image and the relative dull coloring of the background has been used to give form to the image. Due to this, a three-dimensional appearance of the image can be elucidated in spite of the fact that the image is a typical two-dimensional structure. Furthermore, the form has been enhanced by the value that is created by the absolute relations between the light and dark parts of the objects within the painting. This has not only served to give depth to these images, but also enhanced their artistic perceptions. (Kilmer R. & Kilmer W, 1992)

Apart from the elements of design, the painting also manifests of certain aspects of the principles of design. These include the principles of unity, emphasis and balance. For instance, unity in this piece of work has been achieved mostly by the continuation and closure. The relative continuity of the image as well as the background does not at all betray the artistic skills of the painter. Besides, the choice of the closure and the inclusion of only the relevant images in the background as well as on the principal images seem to have been intentional. In addition, the painter is quite very clear as to what the focal point of the painting is. The relative brightness of the two children together with their central location on the painting work leaves no question as to what the main idea behind the painting was. It’s very clear that the viewer must have in mind the kids as the main point of focus. This is a good implementation of this principle considering that these images are perfectly balanced and no doubt perfectly appealing to the eye. The overall painting in The Elder Sister is a typical artistic work of perfectionism. (Nielson & Taylor, 2002)

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