The Elements of Art
The Elements of Art
Lesson Objectives:
1. Students will identify the seven elements of art.
2. Students will describe a piece of artwork using
the elements of art.
State Content Standard
1.0 Students perceive and respond to works of art, objects in nature, events,
and the environment. They also use the vocabulary of the visual arts to express
their observations. (9th-12th)
2.1 Solve a visual arts problem that involves the effective use of the elements of
art and the principles of design (9th-12th)
The Elements
of Art
The Elements of Art
are the visual building
blocks that the artist
puts together to create
a work of art. All works
of art will contain some
or all of these
Line is an element of
art that is the path of a
moving point through
space. Artists use line
to lead your eyes
through a work of art.
Lines lead your eyes
into, around, and out of
visual images.
Zig Zag
Piet Mondrian. Rhythm of Black Lines.
1935/42Oil on canvas72.2 x 69.5
Lines that are horizontal
(straight across) and
vertical (straight up and
down) suggest strength
and balance. Piet
Mondrian was an artist
who created strong
designs with vertical and
horizontal lines. His
works seem simple but
careful consideration and
effort was put into putting
each line in exactly the
right space.
Texture is the surface
quality of materials.
There are two types of
texture: real and
implied. Real textures
are those that we
actually see and touch
in our environment.
Implied textures are
Paper Bag
simulated or invented.
Vincent Van Gogh. Fifteen Sunflowers in
a Vase. Oil on canvas 93 x 73 cm
National Gallery, London.
Vincent Van Gogh is a great
example of an artist who used
texture in his artwork. In this
picture of Sunflowers the dying
flowers are built up with thick
brushstrokes. This evokes the
texture of the seed-heads. He has
implied texture through the use
of lines his brush strokes created.
He also has real texture because
the use of thick brush strokes
gave his paintings a rough
texture. You can actually feel the
brushstrokes in his painting.
Color is the visual
sensation dependent
on the reflection or
absorption of light from
a given surface. The
three characteristics of
color are hue, value,
and intensity.
Hue - The undiluted color in its purest intensity.
Refers to the name of a color.
Value - the lightness and darkness of the hue.
Intensity - the brightness or dullness of a
color. Intensity can be changed by adding
black, white, gray, or an opposite color on the
color wheel.
Primary Colors- refers to the colors red,
yellow, and blue. From these all other colors
are created.
Secondary Colors- colors created by mixing
two primary colors together.
Intermediate Colors- colors created by mixing
a primary color and a secondary color
together. Primary is first – ex. Yellow-green
Claude Monet.
Wheatstacks (End of
Summer). 1890-91Oil
on canvas, 60 X 100
cm, 23.625 X 39.375.
Art Institute of Chicago.
Monet was an Impressionist artist who
took paints and canvases outdoors. He
realized that the colors of the scene
changed as the time of the day changed,
so he carried several canvases. As the
light changed, he moved to another
Value is the lightness
or darkness of color.
Artwork utilizes color to
lend emphasis,
contrast, or balance to
the composition. Value
can be shown through
blending, crosshatching, hatching,
gradation, stippling and
Pablo Picasso.
Guernica. 1937.
Prado, Madrid
Guernica is a monumental painting by Pablo
Picasso, depicting the Nazi German bombing of
Guernica. The attack killed between 250 and
1,600 people, and many more were injured. The
Guernica bombing inspired Picasso. Within 15
days of the attack, Pablo Picasso began painting
this mural. Picasso uses dark values in Guernica
to epitomize the tragedies of war and the
suffering war inflicts upon individuals.
A shape is a twodimensional area that
is defined in some way.
All shapes can be
classified as either
geometric or free form.
Geometric Shape are precise shapes that can
be described using mathematical formulas.
Free Form Shapes are irregular and uneven
Biggers uses the women in this
work to represent the African
civilizations of Egypt, Benin, and
Dogon. The crowns are symbols
of these civilizations. The cloth
on their laps represents the
geometry that has brought order
to each culture.
John Biggers. Starry Crown. 1924-1987,
Acrylic on canvas, 59 1/2 x 47 1/2”.
Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League
Purchase Fund
Forms are objects
having three
dimensions. Like
shapes they have both
length and width, but
forms also have depth.
All forms can be
classified as either
geometric or free form.
Geometric forms are precise shapes that can
be described using mathematical formulas.
Free Forms are irregular and uneven shapes.
George W. Hart. Bathysphere.
As a sculptor of constructive
geometric forms, Hart’s work
deals with patterns and
relationships derived from
classical ideals of balance
and symmetry. Mathematical
yet organic, these abstract
forms invite the viewer to
partake of the geometric
aesthetic. He uses a variety
of media, including paper,
wood, plastic, metal, and
assemblages of common
household objects.
The emptiness or area
between, around,
above, below, or
contained within
objects. Shapes and
forms are defined by
the space around and
within them, just as
spaces are defined by
the shapes and forms
around and within them.
The Illusion of space is done in art by:
•Aerial Perspective - objects in the distance
become lighter
•Linear Perspective - vanishing point(s) show
accurate size changes
•Size Changes - objects in the distance
become smaller
•Detail - objects in the distance have less
•Overlapping - Objects that overlap other
objects are closer to you.
•Vertical Location - objects higher in a
painting are farther away
•Value Differences - sky and ground (or
water) nearer the horizon line are lighter
Botticelli. The
Adoration of the
Maji. Early 1480’s,
Botticelli carefully paced everything with the frame of
this scene. Botticelli uses aerial perspective, linear
perspective, size changes, overlapping, vertical location
and value differences to achieve the illusion of space in
this piece.