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  • Marc Primo Warren


This is an article “The Art of Communicating Without Words” by Marc Warren

They say nothing is original anymore these days and that we’ve already seen everything there is to see in the world of art. Not to discredit young artists, some of whom utilize the magic of digital technology to produce high-level visuals, but somehow traditional artistic expression nowadays is harder to come by with the birth of Photoshop and other graphic-enhancing apps. The question most of us would like to ask is this: does art still communicate without words these days? In an era when storytelling is as vital as advertising, it should.

People are mostly persuaded by words and powerful headlines but nothing beats a good old piece of art that effectively conveys its message. Modern artists such as the England-based Bansky took the world by storm with his straight to the point murals that tell stories of politics and social satire, stirring our imagination and influencing our beliefs. But while Banksy mostly resorts to monochromes for his artworks, there are more elements to how we can create pieces that can effectively communicate our message.


Great art composes color based on three elements which are hue, value, and intensity. Hue is your usual primary and secondary color spectrums that give life to your piece and make it as close to reality as possible. Value is how you produce shadows by considering lightness and darkness, while intensity is what gives your graphic art brightness or dullness depending on what mood you want to project. These elements are also what you might encounter in countless photo-filtering apps out there, but true art captures the natural vision through the lens or brushstroke, being as faithful to the real-life colors as possible.


Imagining a one-directional line that moves through your image and determines width and length also factors in how you can effectively communicate your message without words. It grids your image by defining the edges whether horizontal, vertical, diagonal, straight, or curved. It should lead the viewer’s eye in a way you want to tell your story as if detailing character and direction in a flowing manner.

A horizontal line is more attuned to a viewer’s emotion about peace and tranquility, while a vertical line connotes height and prominence as what you would usually see in establishing photos or artworks of churches.

Meanwhile, drawing a line diagonally directs the eyes in a motion of sight that suggests movement, while a curved line emanates energy by how it appeals to our sensual nature in the same way a human body would.

Shape and form

In defining space, the element of shape provides contours that are meant to dominate your whole art composition. Form, on the other hand, gives off an illusion of depth making visual art more realistic and giving off a certain 3D quality that we often see in sculptures. Geometric shapes such as triangles, rectangles, and squares complement your design while the asymmetrical shapes of organic objects enhance your simulated picture of reality.


Much like how form provides depth on a flat canvas, space does the same by giving the artist some room within the picture grid to play around with. Positive space refers to the areas in which primary objects occupy, which leaves the space around it as your negative space. Positioning your subject and allotting ample room for your negative space can help you tell a great story as it accentuates your subject’s mood and disposition within the picture.

For some 3D illusion effects, study perspective art, technique, and proper shading to emboss your subjects from the flat canvass. This way, your viewers can tell what important details to look at in your artwork and how visuals in your negative space can further enhance your message.

Art as a tool of expression can offer us a number of benefits and can even be considered as a form of therapy for many. It rouses our moods and influences our behavior usually in a way that helps us cope with the daily struggles of reality, while also improving our thought process. Today, visual art still is one of the best forms of communication regardless of how prominent digital technology is.

The reality is simply this-- you can’t fake good art.

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