One thing has always rung true in art, whether you’re talking modern art or historical: art is designed to evoke a feeling. Whether it’s putting a toilet on display in a gallery to evoke anger or rebelliousness, or a subdued sunset that makes you feel peaceful, art is supposed to make you feel something. In some ways, the modern website editor platform
can be used as a sort of artist of its own, using ideas and concepts from fine art to create a website that will evoke something akin to the same awe. To find out what these concepts are, read our guide.
Color theory is a part of just about everything we do. On a design level it influences what we were, what we live in, what informs our art, even our website design, all for the same reason: the feelings colors evoke.
Color theory, in a nutshell, is the use of colors, or combinations of colors to evoke a feeling. A good example would be the hit series Euphoria, which demonstrates it’s not for adults with its neon Color palette which evokes chaos and fun, whereas Bake Off uses pastels to create a peaceful atmosphere.
In the fine art world, color is used to create a mood or make a statement. The Girl with the Pearl Earring
is a good example of making a statement. Her black background is forgotten as you focus on the vibrancy of her headscarf, her eyes, and of course her pearl earring. Another example is Edvard Munch’s The Scream
, which is famed for, like Euphoria, evoking chaos with warbling, uncontrolled, vibrant but clashing colors.
Color theory then, is very important to branding, and by extension, web design. What colors you use in your branding will allow your consumers to glance at your logo, website, etc. and know instantly what you’re all about.
The difference right now is that web design trends go in a lot faster than fine art trends, and being a new industry, they have a lot of inspiration to draw from. A gaming blog might thrive off of the vibrancy of black backgrounds that show off the vibrant neon colors that evoke the idea of youth and chaos that typically comes with gaming marketing, where a recipe blog might want to evoke a more complimentary color palette, like the opposing pastels that create peace in Monet’s great works.
Light and shadow
Light and shadow, as anyone with an abundance of lamps in their home will know, is all about setting a mood. You turn the overhead light off when you want a more romantic setting and go for low light options like candles and lamps, right?
That theory is well applied through fine art in history. The master of this was undoubtedly Caravaggio. His works typically use light to guide your eyes through the narrative. A good example is The Calling of St Matthew
, where Jesus, on the far right, only partially lit, his hand pointing to Matthew, both entirely lit. The painting is an exercise in using light to draw the attention where it is needed.
Today, there is a design trend called “neomorphism” which uses light and shadow for emphasis. The design trend deals with varying degrees of white, typically, using shadow to determine depth and fill the otherwise empty space. To get an idea of what is being described, imagine Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Yellow on yellow, but the light and shadow determine form and mood. But, in contrast, this design is very simple, which means your eyes are instantly drawn to the text that isn’t a part of the design. It offers something pleasing while not taking away from what is important, perhaps even pointing to the focal point of the design.
Depth is deeply informed by light and shadow and has a powerful effect. It turns a flat canvas into an immersive experience. Landscapes and still life in fine art are particularly influenced by depth. For example, the works of Caspar David Friedrich
and other examples of the German Romanticism movement. The vast landscapes of his work evoke feelings with nature, often in winter seasons, so the snow and frost add depth to the barren trees in the foreground and the various hills in the background.
Web designers are definitely coming around to the idea that depth adds something to the design of a website. Rather than a flat surface to run your eyes over, websites are becoming interactive. 3D images come to life when your pointer scans over them, scrolling causes an interactive effect on the page, and clicking onto another page might cause a transition that evokes the idea of swirling into another world.
Fine art can teach a web designer a lot about creating the right feeling for their users. Web design is, after all, a part of marketing, and like art in all forms, marketing is about evoking a feeling. By using some of the techniques of the great artists of the past, a web designer can create a website that no one would ever want to leave.