SAQA Seminar 2022 - Unit 3: Visual Design

For our third unit of the 2022 SAQA Seminar, we will revisit the 2018 Seminar: Visual Design. Revisit two of the videos and several articles from 2018. Participate in the activities to help you hone your design and critique skills.  Whether you need a refresher on the Elements and Principles of Design or are interested in critique, this unit has something for everyone!

View Unit 3 Gallery

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SAQA Seminar (Video Conversation)
Margaret Abramshe is an art quilter with a background in teaching art to students of all ages. Margaret offers a great explanation of design concepts and shows how she uses them in her artwork - the process she follows and how she evaluates her work along the way.
SAQA Seminar (Video Conversation)
Working primarily in a series, Canadian artist Heather Dubreuil is known for her beautiful cityscapes and colorful collages. Heather shares with Deborah Boschert how she utilizes the principles of design as a framework in creating her artwork.
Dust off your portfolio. In this two-part activity, you get a chance to review your own work.


7 Principles of Art and Design by ThoughtCo is a quick refresher on Balance, Contrast, Emphasis, Movement, Pattern, Rhythm, and Unity/Variety. 

Print out this handy visual representation of Design Basics and Design Elements

Learning to Critique Effectively by Jane Dunnewold gives a summary of the design elements and principles she uses as critique criteria and how to give a critique.


These short entertaining YouTube videos give many examples of the Basic Elements of Art, including Line, Shape, Form, Texture, Value, Color and Space.


Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang

Easy to read and understand, this book will help with evaluating your work. It explains how the elements of artwork express a story and evoke emotions.

Design!: A Lively Guide to Design Basics for Artists & Craftspeople by Steven Aimone

An interesting book that explains the foundation of good design. By using examples from a wide range of disciplines (even sushi!), it is a fun and informative way to learn about design.

Color Third Edition: A workshop for artists and designers by David Hornung

David Hornung has been teaching art students about color theory for decades. His exercises and examples are thoughtful ways to learn about colors and how they interact with each other. The book to refer to over and over again when you’re stumped about color!

Line by Gemma Guasch walks you through in detail the various applications of line in art.  Other titles in the series are Color, Form, and Space.

Critical Response Process by Liz Lerman

Liz Lerman is known as a choreographer and dancer but her book addresses critiquing for all creatives. It's a great resource for self-critique or more collaborative interactions.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott 

Though the title says this book is about writing, it is full of amazing ideas and insights for all kinds of artists.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp

Get the secrets for developing and honing your creative talent. All it takes to make creativity a part of your life is the willingness to make it a habit.

Organizations with more materials on visual design

The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation

Artlandish Aboriginal Art Gallery

Smart History is a collaborative that allows resources to be searched based on periods in art history; example Modernism 1900-1980

Artist Websites to Visit

Carolyn Nelson, Colorado, USA

Karen Schulz, District of Columbia, USA

Paula Kovarik, Tennessee, USA

Sara Impey, Colchester, United Kingdom

Viewpoints 9

Do you want to keep exploring?  Scroll down to Additional Information if you would like to see more Visual Design. 

Additional Information

Can't get enough Visual Design?  Check out these optional articles and videos.

10 Basic Elements of Design by Creative Market is geared towards graphic design but includes graphics and links to additional resources for all artists. 

Try these 21 pro tips from a digital artist about creating strong compositions.

An inspiring collection of architectural photographs that include many interpretations of the principles of design.

Ann Roth explores pattern and rhythm in her contemporary weavings. 

Creating texture and pattern with stitch from including beautiful detail images from several artists.

How Self-Critiquing Your Artwork Makes You Grow by Clara Nartey

Painter John MacDonald discusses the importance of embracing our “mistakes” and suggests several questions for the artist to ask in the critique process.

Enter the world of Computer Graphics for a different medium for Understanding Composition and Understanding Color.

Enjoy an explosion of color and texture with Gerhard Richter: The Painter Without a Brush

Focus on Design with Bauhaus at 100 – Celebrating a Century of Art and Design

Through the lens of photography, Sam Abell details exploring seemingly minute changes can make or break a composition.  A lengthy presentation but worth the wait The Life of a Photograph with Sam Abell.

Two short video clips of architect Frank Gehry expressing his passion for movement in design: Paris's Foundation Louis Vuitton and a trailer for his masterclass.


Love or Hate Tech?  Take a peek at some easy tech websites and App options for design. 

Shutterstock's blog offers a color scheme selector and color combinations that is easy to use for basic ideas.

A more complex color selection is free through Adobe Color.  Upload your photo to get the color theme or color gradient.

For the most fun, try the free Adobe Capture app.  Use your photo to get color theme, textures, patterns and more.  Available for Apple and Android. 

Procreate for IPAD is an affordable app for artists to sketch and create with lots of online videos and how-tos.

See Value app offers the option to see in value percentages with iPad or iPhone.

Need a laugh? Try the Instant Art Critique Generator.


Remember these are just the highlights.  More resources are still available in the SAQA Seminar from 2018.

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