Visual Art 101

The Elements of Art
Line- the path of a moving point. A line may define the edge of a shape, it can create texture or
value. It may be thick or thin, rough or smooth, short or long, light or dark. The 5 types of line
are vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, and zig-zag.
Value- How light or dark a color is. A value scale shows the gradual change of a color from it’s
lightest to darkest value. Value may be created by simple shading, hatching, crosshatching, or
Texture- The surface quality or feel of an object. Texture may be actual (rough or smooth, hard
or soft, dull or shiny) or implied visually. The names for the two types of texture are actual and
Shape- A 2-Dimensional is defined by an outline or change in color. Shapes can be either
geometric or organic. Geometric shapes are things such as circles, squares, and triangles, while
organic shapes can be free-form from the imagination or found in nature.
Form- A 3-Dimensional object with the qualities of height, width, and depth. Forms may be
organic or geometric; examples of geometric forms include cone, sphere, and cylinder.
Space- Area within, around, between, above, or below objects and shapes. Space or distance
may be suggested in visual art through linear perspective, atmospheric perspective, or
overlapping. Space may be positive (the actual object) or negative (the extra space occupied by
the object, such as below a chair.
Color- Produced by the reflection of light off objects and into the eye. White light contains all
colors and reflects the hue (name of the color), value (light or dark), and intensity (brightness or
dullness), but black (darkness) is the absence of color. Primary colors are the three colors from
which all other colors are created.
The Principles of Design
Balance- The arrangement of the elements of art in a composition. The 3 types of balance are
symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial.
Symmetrical Balance: the same on both sides. Example: a butterfly, a vase…
Asymmetrical Balance: difference on each side but still gives the feeling of balance.
Radial Balance: coming from a central point. Examples: a target, a spiral…
Rhythm- Regular repetitions of lines, colors, shapes, or patterns. Has a beat. Example: a line of
evenly spaced telephone poles.
Movement- Use of lines, shapes, or colors to lead the eye of the viewer from one direction to
another. Example: lines, pointing arms….
Center of interest (emphasis, focal point)- The accent or important area used to attract the
viewers attention. Example: a black and white portrait with a red scarf.
Contrast- Significant degrees of difference between lines, colors, shapes, values, or textures.
Example: White has a lot of contrast again black, but not much against yellow.
Variety- The different elements of art used at one time to create interest or in a work of art.
Example: a painting using lots of line, contrast, color, and value.
Unity- A sense of oneness in a work of art. There isn’t anything that doesn’t belong to the
group. Example: a bowl of fruit.
Repetition/Pattern- The repeated use of an element of art within a work of art. Can create a
definite pattern or random. Example: polka dots, a flock of birds, a dumped out box of paper
Proportion- Objects relate to each other as the correct size. Proportion is used in drawing people
to make sure the arms or other body parts are the correct size. Proportion is sometimes called
scale. Example: using the right size of people standing in front of a car, neither one is too big or
too small just like you had taken a photo.