When God looked at all the stuff He had created and said it was all good, what was He seeing? Remember, nothing had any names yet. Things didn’t get their names until Adam got his first assignment. I am offering these photos to allow you to experience what it must have been like for Adam to see things that he could not yet identify.
Remember that the ability to identify and categorize is a left brain activity. So my question is: When God brought all the things to Adam for him to name, and they didn’t yet have a name, could he still see them?
The answer is, of course he could see them but not by their name. He didn’t see an elephant, a giraffe, a monkey, etc. That would have been a left brain way of looking at them. Instead he saw them from the right side of his brain. He saw their various shapes. He saw all their unique coloring. He noticed that some had smooth textures, others wavy, and others had spiky or coarse textures. He noticed that the lines that made up their outlines, tails, and legs were all slightly different. They certainly took up different amounts of space since some were small and others large. And of course some had bulky forms and other forms were slender and svelte. Finally, with the way that the light revealed each one meant that the shading or value on each was unique. In other words, every single animal was made up of those seven visually perceived elements, but each category of animals had their own unique similarities. Switching from the right to the left side of his brain, Adam was able to group them according to their unique similarities (all giraffe’s had long oblong shaped necks and long lines for legs), but all the animals visually were made up of some combination of colors, textures, lines, forms, shape, space, and shading (value). Those are the basic elements of art that we still use today.
Isn’t it amazing to stop and think that visually every single thing that we see is made up of those same seven elements? Now the scientists tell us that all matter is made up of the same set of chemical elements as well, but in the visual arts we restrict ourselves to contemplating the endless combination of the visual elements. Only an awesome God could take seven basic visual elements and expand their nuances and combinations to create an infinite variety of things to see.
In my book, The Genesis Approach to Art, we look at these basic elements in the endless variety that makes up the natural world and how each reveals some mystery about God. In the on-line art classes that I offer, you can also expand your ability to capture and present that variety as we explore the wonderful art materials that are available to us.
Remember that God did not want to leave mankind clueless about Him. He wanted us to have a way of discovering Him so that we might know Him, love Him, and serve Him. Let us explore the seven elements of art with an awareness that they are God’s fingerprint on the visual world.