BASIC DESIGN TEXTS (1)


224. Albers, Joseph. Search Versus Research. Hartford, CT: Trinity College

Press, 1969. 85 pp. B/W illus., color illus.

    Albers, known for his color courses at Black Mountain and Yale,

gave these three lectures at Trinity College in 1965 on general education and

art education issues. His discourse on specific art and design subjects such

as color, visual organization, and his less well known approach to drawing

emphasizes first-hand experience. Seven pages of color plates provide an

opportunity for readers to experience some of the characteristics of color he

describes. Readers interested in more complete information about Albers’

approach to the study and teaching of color should see his Interaction of

Color.


225. Anderson, Donald M. Elements of Design. New York: Holt,Rinehart and

Winston, 1961. 218 pp. Index, glossary, B/W illus

    This college-level design foundations text provides interesting

background information on design and perception as well as environmental

material. Separate chapters examine natural and man-made design sources

and analyze the elements of line, shape, form, texture, color, and motion.

Four chapters include discussions of color fundamentals, symbolism as

cultural source, and “color in action.”. While Anderson treats color in more

detail than some basic design texts and provides many black-and-white

illustrations, there are neither color illustrations nor references for further

reading. The author states that his intent is to provide a flexible guide with

discussion and motivating pictorial material rather than a rigid course of

study. Some readers may feel that the somewhat confusing organization of

this book -- for example, chapters on design sources alternate with chapters

on design elements -- detracts from its usefulness.


226. Bates, Kenneth F. Basic Design: Principles and Practice. New York:

Barnes and Noble, 1960. 175 pp. Index, bibl., B/W illus ISBN 0-69-

463497-3.

    The author, who taught enameling and design at the Cleveland

Institute for Art for 40 years and is known for his work in enamels,

presents an overview of basic design concepts. He describes a design

process that leads to practical application in sketching, painting and

sculpture as well as in the applied arts areas of ceramics, enamels, textiles,

and weaving. A chapter on design in sketching and painting includes a brief

color section that focuses on the Munsell system. The book is written in a

conversational style, as if between instructor and student. The dated

illustrations and the lack of color plates severely limit the appeal of this

book, although it does offer a historic perspective on basic design in the

1950s.


227. Behrens, Roy R. Design in the Visual Arts. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:

Prentice Hall, 1984. 136 pp. Index, bibl., glossary, B/W illus., color

illus. ISBN 0- 13-201947-7.

    “Visual aesthetic design,” as the appropriate combination of unity

and variety, and “context” are the major themes in this text on two- and

three-dimensional design. The “Color and Context ” chapter at the

beginning of the book contrasts the traditional treatment of visual elements

and principles with a more holistic, contextual approach. The author briefly

discusses color characteristics, color as accent, conventional color schemes,

and color relativity. The two main recommended means of modifying color

recommended are pigment mixture and simultaneous contrast. Since he

describes but does not explain the latter and dismisses successive contrast as

of little importance in art, readers who want explanations of color perception

will need to look elsewhere. The “context” of design history, theory, and

creativity is woven into “Composition and Gestalt,” “ Pictures and

Patterns,” and “Vision and Invention” chapters. The lively text is supported

by 20 sample exercises, which are presented as puzzles for students, and

many illustrations that include student work. Marginal notes and

quotations, and a 73-item bibliography with short annotations are other

interesting features.


228. Beitler, Ethel Jane, and Bill Lockhart. Design for You. New York: Wiley,

1969, 2nd ed. 247 pp. Index, bibl., glossary, B/W illus., color illus.

ISBN 471- 06337- 1.

This introductory design text begins with an overview of the

purposes of design. The chapter on organization takes a Gestalt-like

approach, without identifying it as such. Each design element is the focus

of a well-illustrated chapter, with examples drawn from the fine arts as well

as clothing, jewelry, and the built and natural environment, that concludes

with suggested exercises. The Prang Color System is explained

thoroughly, but the Munsell color system is merely mentioned. The authors

fail to attribute some theories, such as Schopenhauer’s Law of Areas, to the

proper source. Lockhart and Beitler’s 10 suggestions for pleasing color

harmonies go beyond the standard color schemes and may be of interest to

students and practitioners. This is a simple but useful text despite its age.


229. Bevlin, Marjorie Elliot. Design through Discovery. 5th ed.

New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1989. 388 pp. Index, bibl.,

glossary, B/w inns., color illus. ISBN (IQO3-026303-4.

    This much-revised design classic is organized into sections on the

elements and principles of design, tools and expressive forms, visual

communication in fine and applied arts, and design applications for apparel,

industrial design, architecture, and interiors. The color chapter covers color

origins, properties, perception, theories, psychological aspects and history.

The abundance and quality of illustrations, glossary entries, bibliographic

citations, and comprehensive scope make this a useful resource, especially

for the beginning student. This fifth edition adds suggestions for class

projects. A brief edition is available without the sections on application,

design history, and appreciation as Design through Discovery: The

Elements and Principles.


230. Bloomer, Carolyn. Visual Perception. New York: Van Nostrand

Reinhold, 1976. 148 pp. Index, bibl., endnotes/footnotes, B/W illus.,

color illus. ISBN 0-442-20825-1.

    The author’s visual perception emphasis results in excellent chapters

on vision, the brain, Gestalt principles, space, depth, motion and color.

The brief but clearly written 14-page chapter on color begins with a

discussion of color perception, the traditional 12-hue color wheel, and the

hue, value, and intensity characteristics of color. Conventional color

schemes are briefly explained, as are successive and simultaneous contrast,

fluting, vibrating boundaries, transparency, and optical color mixture.

Information on the psychological dimensions and associations of color and

on color usage in art concludes the chapter. Many illustrations derived

mainly from fine arts, exercises for students, chapter notes, and a 76-item

briefly annotated bibliography complete this fine effort to integrate art and

psychology.


231. De Sausmarez, Maurice. Basic Design: The Dynamics of Visual Form.

London: Studio Vista, 1964. 96 pp. B/W illus., color illus.

    This writer discusses design process, enumerates and illustrates

some elements of design, and shares Kepes’s Gestalt inspired view of

visual forces. The chapters on the two-dimensional field, spatial forces,

and analytical drawing are mainly illustrated with black-and-white examples

of student work. Two brief chapters on color deal with the constructive

aspect of color and the energy or inner force of color, which Itten calls the

contrast of extension.. The first presents a 12-hue circle, black-and-white

diagrams for students to fill in, and a discussion of objective principles.

Color space and subjective color are treated in the second chapter along with

a list of' nine color contrasts reminiscent of Itten’s seven contrasts. Except

for its value as a record of English foundations courses in the 1960s, the

information and the limited illustrations pale in comparison to the many

more comprehensive and detailed basic texts now available.


232. Dondis, Donis A. A Primer of Visual Literacy. Cambridge: Massachusetts

Institute of Technology Press, 1973. 194 pp. Index, bibl. B/W illus.,

    Written from a visual communication perspective, this “primer”

recommends design guidelines based on Gestalt perception theories. The

author lists dot, line, direction, tone, color, texture, scale, dimension, and

movement as basic visual elements. A list of “communication strategies”

presents 18 pairs of contrasting terms, such as unity and fragmentation, that

are well illustrated by a simple diagram and five graphic images such as

posters or photographs, and accompanied by a brief explanation. However,

in the rest of the book verbal explanations dominate. Black-and-white

illustrations are the rule, except for two color plates that show a

conventional 12-hue color wheel and simultaneous contrast, the latter

accompanied by a discussion of afterimage. Further examinations of style,

function, and message are related to photography, film, and television as

well as to graphic design, painting, sculpture, and architecture. While the

limited visual material makes the book seem dated, the explanation of the

perceptual basis of design is of enduring value.


233. Dow, Arthur Wesley. Composition: A Series of Exercises in Art Structure

for the Use of Students and Teachers. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1914.

128 pp. B/W illus., color illus.

    As suggested in the title, this book takes the form of progressive

lessons that are illustrated with examples. The author’s central thesis is that

composition or the “building up of harmony” is the fundamental process in

art. He approaches composition by analyzing its main elements as line,

value -- which he calls by the Japanese term notan -- and color. He

considers each in turn and concludes with exercises that combine the three

elements in unified harmonies. His well-reasoned lessons on the elements

of color progressively increase in complexity of effect. This enduring

guide to color as an integrated element in composition authored by a master

teacher will reward the interested reader.


234.Goldstein, Harriet and Vetta Goldstein. Art in Everyday Life. 4th ed.

New York: Macmillan, 1954. 515 pp. Index, B/W illus. color illus.

    This book is a study of the application of the fundamental principles

of design and color by two University of Minnesota professors who

fostered the non-elitist art in daily life movement in America from the 1920s

through the 1950s. Readers with an interest in the history of design

education and the development of design texts will enjoy the Goldsteins as

they discuss everything from selecting and arranging pictures and flowers to

the requirements for proper clothing and a good house plan. The authors

focus on harmony, proportion, balance, rhythm, emphasis, and “good

taste,” particularly in the realms of dress, interior design, and housing. The

two color chapters, one dealing with theory and the other with application,

explain the Prang and Munsell color systems, color characteristics, and the

psychologists’ and physicists’ primaries. They also discuss color use with

reference to balance, repetition, “keying” to one hue, and the standard color

harmonies. The value of this book now is mainly as an innovative example

and record of the interests and concerns of its time. Photographs, many by

the authors, supplement the text.


235. Graves, Maitland. The Art of Color and Design. 2nd ed.New York:

McGraw Hill, 1951. 439 pp. Index, endnotes/footnotes, glossary, B/W

illus., color illus.

    This revision and expansion of the 1941 edition of the same title

presents a course of study for the beginning student based on the design

elements of line, direction, shape, size, texture, value, and color. The

section on color, based on Munsell, includes a “color chord” method for

creating unified color schemes. Only brief references are made to the use of

color in interiors and in art. The author explains his unstandardized “Graves

Design Judgment Test,” which illustrates design principles that he claims are

as basic and natural as balance or gravity, and also briefly describes the

standardized version of the test, which he devised to measure aptitude for

appreciation or production of art. While the datedness of the content and the

illustrations limit the usefulness of this book, it presents an interesting

record of the author’s approach to teaching design and color in the 1940s

and his work on art aptitude.


236. Hageney, Wolfgang, ed. Design and Light: Three - Dimensional Color

Effects and Patterns in Abstract Design: Designer’s Notebook 28. Rome:

Belvedere, 1988. 96 pp. ISBN 88-7070-063-1

    This guide to pattern design demonstrates how to use the “object and

its shadow and then lose the identities of the two with overlays or

superimpositions together with intervening spaces, creating a full page of a

field pattern.” Pattern motifs for a full page of patterns are based on the

shapes and cast shadows of ordinary manufactured objects such as an ink

bottle, lamp bulb, electric iron, and woman’s shoe. Each pattern is shown

in a series: first as a line drawing; in flat value with three grays and black; in

three grays and black; and in alternative color ways accompanied by CYMK

percentages for matching in printing inks. Seventeen pages scattered

through the text (which is given in English, Italian, German, Spanish and

French) explain the method. Although this seems to intended for the

beginning designers and the quality of the color printing is mediocre, the

repeat patterns may interest surface designers and textile artists.


237. Hale, Nathan Cabot. Abstraction in Art and Nature: A

Program of Study for Artists, Teachers, and Students. New

York: Watson-Guptill, 1972. 301 pp. Index, bibl., B/W illus., color illus

ISBN 0-8230-0049-4.

    The author’s wonderfully fresh viewpoint shows the reader art and

design elements of line, form, mass, shape, pattern, space, and color can

relate to or derive from natural sources, structures and phenomena. The

author’s program for study of natural forces such as weather and

atmosphere, patterns in living creatures and earth forms, and lines of

growth and erosion offers a fascinating source of design ideas and projects

for students. The many illustrations, dramatic photographs, and works by

artists including Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Diirer are well integrated

into the text. In keeping with Hale’s focus on human perception of color,

the color chapter contains interesting descriptions of “inner color” and

illustrations of afterimage experiments.


238. Harlan, Calvin. Vision & Invention: An Introduction to Art

Fundamentals. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986. 214 pp.

Index, endnotes/footnotes, B/W illus., color illus. ISBN 0-l3-942228-5-

    The author nicely balances conceptual and practical material in this

innovative basic design text,which devotes a quarter of its excellent content

to color in design. An unusual feature is the author’s 14-hue circle based on

the psychophysiological phenomenon of the negative afterimage. Here a

hue’s complement is its afterimage. The gradated hue circle, arranged

according to the “natural order of color” that he credits to H. Barrett

Carpenter, locates yellows at the top, reds on the right side, and blues on

the left, which converge on violet, the darkest value, at the bottom. In his

survey of color systems and theories, which includes Chevreul, Munsell,

and Rood, Harlan notes that because color systems are designed to serve

several functions, they are both too complex and too simple for use by

artists. He also discusses color perception and interaction, cites Itten’s

seven contrasts and provides exercises for students for each major topic.

The very thorough chapter on “elements of color” is well presented and

includes helpful documentation and marginal notes.


239. Itten, Johannes. Design and Form: The Basic Course at the Bauhaus. Rev.ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1975. 136 pp. Index, B/W illus.,

color illus. ISBN 0-442-24044-9.

    This book records the basic foundation course Itten introduced at the

Bauhaus in 1919 and the work of his students in that course. Nine

sections, each supported by a page or two of discussion and many

illustrations, depict light-dark, color, material and texture, form, rhythm,

expressive forms, and subjective forms. Most of the illustrations of student

work are accompanied by brief explanatory captions. The color section is

limited to a presentation of Itten’s much copied 12-hue circle and summaries

of his seven color contrasts. Not intended as a course of study for students,

this book is more useful to instructors or those interested in Itten’s

concepts. Itten’s color ideas and student exercises are fully covered in his

comprehensive Art of Color (1961.)


240. Johnson, Mary Frisbee. Visual Workouts: A Collection of Art-Making

Problems. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1983. 145 pp. Bibl.,

glossary, B/W illus., color illus. ISBN 0-13-942664-7.

    The collection of 77 two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and color

design exercises from the author’s design foundation classes rely entirely on

a problem-solving and hands-on approach. All of the exercises follow the

same format in an easy-to-read style. The problem is stated briefly,

suggestions are made on how to get started, and, references are made to

artists who do related work. The color section includes 22 color problems

that explore color through painting, photography, video, game-making, and

pop-up books. This approach may suit readers and instructors who share

the author’s practical orientation and good humor, but others may be

frustrated by the deliberate omission of a general overview of design

elements and principles. Readers with a basic design background or

instructors looking for inspiration may find imaginative ideas here.


241. Kepes, Gyorgy. Language of Vision. Chicago: Paul Theobald, 1944. 228

pp. B/W illus., color illus.

    This pioneering work introduced generations of American design

students to Gestalt concepts related to art and design. As he describes the

development of visual representation and the evolution of design in the 20th

century, Kepes simultaneously formulates a new vocabulary for art

education and leads the viewer to experience new modes of perception.

Discussions of design, color, and perception principles are integrated

throughout this design classic authored by this master of the light workshop

at the new Bauhaus in Chicago who later went on to the Massachusetts

Institute of Technology.


  1. 242.Landa, Robin. An Introduction to Design: Basic Ideas and Applications

for Paintings or the Printed Page. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1983.

192 pp. Index, glossary, B/W illus., color illus. ISBN 0-13-480616-6.

    Design and color are given equal coverage in this well-organized art

foundations course text. Each of the eleven chapters begins with a short

discussion of a topic, followed with concise instructions for student

projects, and concludes with helpful summaries of “knowledge gained.”

The introductory chapter on color presents a “geometric color wheel” with

24 pigment colors, discusses hue, value, and chroma, and briefly runs

through Albers’ explanation of simultaneous contrast. References to color

in the context of basic design distinguish this design text. Color

discussions and projects for students that explore color are well integrated

into half of the book. Another special feature of this lively work is its

orientation to application in both painting and the printed page, through

inclusion of many exercises and examples from graphic design in addition

to fine arts examples. Although it includes many black-and-white

illustrations, this book deserves more than four pages of color plates.


243. Larkin, Eugene. Design: The Search for Unity. Dubuque, IA: Wm. C.

Brown, 1988. 288 pp. Index, bibl., glossary, B/W illus., color illus.

ISBN 0-697-01499-01.

    This perception based design foundations text describes,

demonstrates and illustrates integration strategies based on Gestalt grouping

principles that are intended to lead to design unity. While the discussions

and studio experiences for students focus on two- and three-dimensional

design and drawing, connections are made to interior design, architecture,

and graphic design. Many handsome examples of paintings, brayer prints,

weaving, quilting, and computer-generated designs by artists and students

enhance this book. Discussion of color appears in the final “Color as

Design” chapter where color is treated as “one of the elements of design

rather than as a separate thing in itself.” The brief information on color

focuses on Munsell.


244. Lauer, David A. Design Basics. 3rd rev.ed. New York: Holt,

Rinehart & Winston, 1990. 246 pp. Index, bibl., B/W illus., color illus.

ISBN 0-O3-030422-9.

    This introduction to design basics offers 13 well-organized modular

chapters. The 31-page color chapter is well illustrated with instructive

diagrams and mainly 20th-century paintings. Included are discussions of

properties of color, optical color mixing, the spreading effect, warm/cool

contrast, basic color schemes and harmonies, color discord, and color

meaning and symbolism. Considerable emphasis is placed on the “value”

characteristic of color. The author discusses color applications and

examples using design concepts and vocabulary presented earlier in the

book. Although information is presented briefly, this book provides an

excellent introduction to color within a general design context.


245. Lazzari, Margaret R. , and Clayton Lee. Art and Design

Fundamentals. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990. 248 pp.

Index, bibl., glossary, appendices, B.W illus., color illus. ISBN 0-442-

3943 -6.

     In place of the usual art elements and principles or skills-oriented

approach, Lazzari and Lee’s approach aims at developing cultural literacy

and a heightened awareness of visual ideology. They define visual

production as “the interaction of culture, objects, individuals, and

institutions, in addition to the fabrication of objects.” Essentially, their

narration follows a day in the life of a West Coast college student,

presumably to appeal to the target audience. Within this scenario is an

amazing play on sets of five in this tightly structured text. Each of the five

chapters focuses on one of five major topics: perception, pattern,

proportion, production, and power. Within each chapter are five sections

“that reflect again the main topics of the book.” Five appendix sections

cover topics that usually form the body of mainstream design books -- the

visual system, composition, color, linear perspective, and drawing -- and

also reflect the five major topics. For example, the color appendix briefly

addresses: color and perception; the Munsell and CIE color systems;

proportion; production and reproduction issues including computer and video;

and the power of color. Conversely, the five main chapters also address the five

appendix topics and include five assignments for students. The holistic

approach combines theory, history, perception, and practice, which in turn are

related to architecture, landscape, industrial and interior design, and

traditional media.  This ambitious text may be effectively used for a year-long

foundations program.


CLICK FOR NEXT PAGE