What is background in art?

Background in art refers to the background space or setting that an image is placed within. This background can include different objects and textures and can be used to create interesting visual effects.

Key points

  • Importance of backgrounds: Backgrounds in art play a crucial role in setting the scene and adding depth to the composition, allowing artists to create a specific mood or context for their work.
  • Enhancing the focal point: Varied textures, patterns, and contrasting colors in backgrounds can draw attention and lead viewers' eyes toward the focal point, enhancing the main subject's impact.
  • Complementing the main subject: Careful consideration of background elements, from natural scenery to abstract designs, supports and complements the main subject, contributing to a cohesive and compelling artwork.

Introduction to the concept of background in art

From drawings to paintings to photographs there is one key element in most of the images made in these mediums: the background.

Much like the foreground in art, the background in art plays a key role in any composition.

There are many different ways that background in art can be used by you in your art.

You can use the background as a way of setting the scene for their work, and incorporating different objects or textures into the background can help to establish the story or mood of their piece.

You can also use background more abstractly, creating exciting visual effects by using contrasting colors or other techniques to create interest and draw the viewer's eye.

Whether you're looking for a realistic background or something more experimental, background in art can help you create the perfect composition for your work.

Why is background important in art?

When creating a work of art, it's easy to focus all of our attention on the foreground, or main subjects and elements in the piece.

However, background is also crucial for setting the scene and adding depth to the composition.

Without a background, foreground elements can feel flat and unanchored.

A well-chosen background can also add layers of meaning to a piece by including symbolic elements or hinting at the context in which the foreground subjects exist.

In some cases, such as with abstract or impressionist works, the background may also be where much of the visual interest lies.

What are foreground and background in art?

When creating a work of art, you must consider the placement and focus of various elements in the composition.

The foreground refers to the elements that are closest to the viewer and appear larger or more prominent, while the background includes distant elements that are smaller or less distinct.

The foreground can be used to draw attention and create depth in the piece, while the background often serves as a setting or context for the foreground subject.

Because foreground elements are more dominant, they typically include important aspects of the story or focus of the piece.

However, careful consideration of both foreground and background is necessary for a composition to feel balanced and complete.

Understanding and utilizing foreground and background can greatly enhance an artist's ability to convey their message or evoke emotion in their audience.

Why are foreground and background important?

Foreground and background are important elements in any visual composition, whether it be a painting, photograph, or film.

The background helps to set the scene and provide context for the characters or objects in the foreground.

It can add depth to the image and create visual interest.

In art, artists often use perspective and object placement to emphasize the subject in the foreground and make them stand out from their background surroundings.

A well-chosen background can also enhance the mood or message of a piece, while a poorly chosen background can distract from or even clash with the main subject.

What is the difference between background and foreground color?

The background color refers to the hue and shade used in that area, while the foreground color pertains to the color used for the main subject.

In some cases, artists may choose to use contrasting background colors to make their subjects stand out even more.

However, both background and foreground colors play an important role in creating a visually compelling composition.

While background color might not always be noticed right away, it can contribute greatly to setting a mood or tone for the piece as a whole.

What does foreground mean?

In art and photography, the foreground refers to the portion of a scene that is closest to the viewer.

It often has more detail and may appear larger than objects in the background.

The use of foreground can add depth and definition to a composition, drawing the eye towards certain elements within the image.

In addition, artists may choose to incorporate elements of the foreground into their subject matter, such as a person standing in front of a landscape or objects scattered across a table.

Understanding how to effectively utilize foreground helps artists create interesting and dynamic compositions.

However, it is important to consider background elements as well; these can add context or balance to a piece and should not be neglected in the planning process. 

How does background affect an image?

In drawings, paintings, and photographs, background plays a crucial role in setting the tone and mood of an image.

For example, a background filled with bright colors and busy patterns can convey energy and liveliness, while a more subdued background can create a sense of calmness and serenity.

The background can also affect the focus of the image – a simplistic background allows the viewer's eye to be drawn toward the subject, while a busy background can make it more difficult for the subject to stand out.

Additionally, the background can also provide context for the subject – a rural background may bring to mind ideas of simplicity and nature, while an urban background may suggest modernity and progress.

Tips for making compelling backgrounds in art

When it comes to creating a background in art, it's important to remember that the background should support and enhance the focal point of the piece.

One tip for creating a compelling background is to vary your textures and patterns.

Incorporating a variety of textures can add depth and interest while repeating patterns can help lead the viewer's eye toward the focal point.

It's also important to pay attention to lighting and color when designing a background.

Using contrasting hues or different values can create visual tension, drawing attention to certain elements in the composition.

Additionally, incorporating lines and shapes into the design can aid in creating overall balance and harmony.

Many artists choose to include natural scenery, like fields, mountains, or rivers.

Others may opt for a cityscape or architectural background.

Still, others may choose a completely abstract background, using shapes and colors to enhance the focal point of their piece.

No matter what background is chosen, it should always enhance and complement the main subject.

A background shouldn't overpower or distract from the central subject, but rather support it and provide context.

Great background choices can make a painting or drawing come alive and transport the viewer to a new world. 

The background in a drawing or painting can often be overlooked, but it is just as important as the main subject. 

Examples of great backgrounds in art

Some famous works of art showcase background elements that are just as stunning as the focal point. 

One example is Vincent Van Gogh's “Starry Night,” where the background equally captures the viewer's attention with its swirling stars and sweeping hills. 

Other powerful examples of backgrounds in the art include the backgrounds in some of the original Disney animated movies.

Such as the backgrounds in Bambi by background artist Tyrus Wong, which create a sense of peace and grandeur through their whispy trees and sweeping meadows.

The backgrounds in Sleeping Beauty are another of my favorites.

These backgrounds were done by background artist Eyvind Earle and captured the magical and exotic feel of an enchanted forest.

The backgrounds and overall design of Alice in Wonderland are also incredibly well done, with concept artist Mary Blair bringing to life the imaginative and dreamlike nature of Wonderland.

So whether you're designing a background for an illustration, painting, or photograph, it's important to consider the background as carefully as you do your main subject.

Claude Monet's “Water Lilies” series features dreamy backgrounds that draw the viewer into tranquility and contemplation. 

Moreover, background elements can also play a crucial role in setting the mood and providing context for a work of art. 

These examples show that carefully considering background elements can elevate a work of art to new heights.

Overall, background elements play an important role in setting the tone and context of an image.

Whether it's a natural background or a more abstract design, the background should always be considered part of the whole picture when creating art.

So if you're looking to create compelling background elements in your artwork, keep these tips in mind and experiment with different textures, colors, and shapes to see what works best for you.