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Elements of Art. EDTE 417 Visual Art Teresa Renaud-Rainville. Elements of Art. The elements of art serve as a framework for the structure of visual art and work together to form compositions.

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elements of art

Elements of Art

EDTE 417 Visual Art Teresa Renaud-Rainville

elements of art1
Elements of Art

The elements of art serve as a framework for the structure of visual art and work together to form compositions.

The elements are a common language that enables one to describe, analyze, appreciate, communicate thoughts and findings, and create pieces of art.

The elements of art are:

Colour - Value - Line - Shape –– Form – Space - Texture


v i o l e t v I t e l l a r y w a r m w h e e l y e l l o w z i n n o b e r

a e n e o u s b l e n d b l u e c o m p l e m e n t a r y c o n t r a s t c o o l g r e e n h u e

m i n i m u m m i x m u t e d o r a n g e p a l e t t e p r I m a r y


Colour is seen by the way rays of light reflect off a surface. There are three primary colours: red, yellow, and blue. The primary colours can be mixed to create all the colours of the rainbow. Colour relationships create the foundation of the colour wheel. The primary colours can be mixed to create the secondary colours of orange, green and violet. Mixing different amounts of a colour changes the colours hue. Contrast is the degree of difference between colours or tones in a piece of artwork. Blue, green, and violet are often labeled as cool colours, while yellow, orange, and red are called warm colours. Complimentary colours are pairs of colours that sit opposite one another on the colour wheel. Tertiary colours are created by mixing secondary colours

p r i s m r a i n b o w r e d s e c o n d a r y s p e c t r u m t e r t i a r y t o n e v a r i a t i o n

lesson colour elementary
Lesson : Colour Elementary
  • An excellent way for student s to learn about colour is to mix together paint in the primary colours to make secondary colours. When the paint has dried, have the students cut shapes and arrange in the form of a colour wheel.
  • The upper elementary students will enjoy drawing a favorite animal and painting the different parts of the animal in primary or secondary colours. The students may paint the silhouette of their animal with white paint on heavy black paper, allowing it to dry before filling in the parts with colour. Once the second coat of paint is dry the students may outline the details of their animal with a black permanent marker.
lesson colour secondary
Lesson : Colour Secondary
  • It is important as students move into the older grades that they better understand colour theory. The colour wheel is important but it can be a not so favorite exercise.
  • A Mandala is a way to teach about primary, secondary and tertiary colours while still using creativity. As each shape over laps with another the shapes are subsequently coloured as if the colours had been blended.
lesson secondary
Lesson: Secondary

Another different way to allow the students to represent the colour wheel is by putting together a collection of same objects.


v i o l e t v I t e l a r y w a r m w h e e l y e l l o w z i n n o b e r

a e n e o u s b l e n d b l u e c o m p l e m e n t a r y c o n t r a s t c o o l g r e e n h u e

m i n i m u m m i x m u t e d o r a n g e p a l e t t e p r I m a r y


  • Value refers to the changes in the base colour. This is determined by the lightness or darkness of any colour. Value means the various intensities of the tones or colours . When colours are mixed with white paint or water, they appear as muted lighter tones. When colours are mixed with black paint, they appear as darker tones or shades. These are the highlights, midtones and shadows of a composition. The creation of a light to dark value scale requires careful mixing of colours.

a e n e o u s b l e n d b l u e c o m p l e m e n t a r y c o n t r a s t c o o l g r e e n h u e

Lesson : Value Elementary

To teach value one can start with a worksheet, then step- by -step teach the students how colour can move from light to dark with shading, dots or cross hatching.

Choose a simple form to draw. The students can then use the techniques of value to turn a flat object into something three-dimensional.

lesson value secondary
Lesson : Value Secondary
  • Time to up the level of difficulty in secondary. Here are examples of drawings based on the work of Chuck Close. The light and dark of each square on the grid creates value.
  • The value of the drawing is dependent on the amount of lines, dots or shading in each square of the grid.

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a n g l e b r o k e n c o n t o u r c u r l y c u r v e d i a g o n a l e x t e r i o r

f l u i d h o r I z o n t a l h e a v y i n t e r I o r i n t e r e s t i n g


A line is the mark that is made on a surface. Lines have names that describe their place in space. They may be diagonal, vertical, or horizontal. Lines may be thick or thin, solid or broken. When two lines sit next to each other they become parallel lines. Lines can be bent into curves and broken into angles. In this way, lines can express different things in different ways in an infinite number of configurations.

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Lesson : Line Elementary
  • With Chinese Brush Painting each brush stroke is a defining move that produces a portion of the painting that is neither improved upon nor corrected.  No sketch is prepared and no model is used. From first to last stroke, the student learns that patience and purpose are a part of the technique. Each line is suggestive of the subject.
  • Students will follow along with the teacher in a step-by-step method, learning the various strokes. With practise the student may design their own picture, though many quietly work on perfecting each line. If ever there was a quiet art lesson, this is it!
lesson line secondary
Lesson : LineSecondary
  • Blind Contour drawing is a favourite with teachers to develop hand-eye communication. Contour drawing is essentially outline drawing, and blind contour drawing means drawing the outline of the subject without looking at the paper. The end result doesn't matter - what is important is carefully observing the subject.
  • Once the contour of a partner is complete , the student may then fill in the spaces with colour.

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Shape is an area enclosed by lines and curves. It can be geometric or organic. A shape always had two dimensions, length and width. Each time a line outlines a shape, it is really creating two images: the positive one that is outlined, and the negative one that is created outside the positive shape. Some shapes can be given a name: circles, ovals, crescents, squares, rectangles and trapezoids are named shapes. Some shapes are irregular and do not fit a definition. A paint spill might be an irregular shape that does not fit a definition.

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Lesson : Shape Elementary

For this lesson the teacher provides a variety of plastic shapes that the student can trace around with pencil on to paper.

The student then paints in the shapes with vibrant colours.

Once the paint is dry the student then retraces the larger shapes with a black marker and draws more shapes within those shapes.

Once complete ,the student has a masterful abstract painting to display.

lesson shape secondary
Lesson : Shape Secondary

Paul Klee was a natural draftsman, and developed a mastery of colour. Many of his works combine these skills. His works often have a child-like quality to them and are usually on a small scale. He often used geometric shapes as well as letters, numbers, and arrows, and combined them with figures of animals and people.

For this lesson , students draw a series of shapes and then intersect the shapes with lines that cross the page.

The altered shapes are then painted as shown.


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f l a t l o b u l a r o o i d a l p y r a m i d s c u l p t u r e


When a flat, two-dimensional shape is bent, a third dimension is created: height, width, length. Form has depth as well as height. The shape becomes a form. Artists use form when they create sculptures. Some forms commonly used are cylinders, cones, spheres, cubes, pyramids, and prisms.

a q u i f o r m b a r r e l b e l l c o n e c u b e c y l i n d e r d i m e n s i o n a l

lesson form elementary
Lesson : Form Elementary
  • Wire Sculpture makes a great lesson to teach with no examples, no photographs, and no demonstrations ..
  • Start with a time of play and experimentation. Invite students to do wire experimentation, manipulation and to think of wire as line.
  • The students will be making three-dimensional line drawings.
lesson form secondary
Lesson : Form Secondary

When a flat piece of cardboard is wet and then molded the 2D becomes 3D. The shape is now a form and in this case the form is a sculptural mask.

Once the paper mask is dry it is then painted. When the paint dries is can be varnished to hold its form.


b e h i n d c h a n g e c o m p o s i t i o n d i s t a n c e f r o n t o v e r l a p p i n g

n e g a t I v e p e r s p e c t I v e s I z e v a n I s h I n g p o I n t

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Space in artwork creates visual perspective, giving the illusion of depth, making a flat image look like it has form. There are two different types of space: negative and positive. Positive space is taken up by something in an area, and negative space is the space around something in an area. There are several ways an artist adds space to artwork:

Overlapping– placing an object in front of another object makes the object in front appear closer than the one behind.

Changing size – an object that is smaller looks like it is in the distance while and object that is larger looks like it is closer.

Using perspective – utilizing perspective, objects can be drawn on a flat surface to give an impression of their relative position and size.

b e h i n d c h a n g e c o m p o s i t i o n d i s t a n c e f r o n t o v e r l a p p i n g

lesson space elementary
Lesson : Space Elementary
  • Bob Ross hosted a TV series on painting, in which he broke paintings down into simple steps. By utilizing the technique of overlapping , he made the objects in front appear closer than the ones behind creating visual perspective, giving the illusion of depth.
  • On canvas boards with acrylic paint, the teacher can step-by step help the students replicate this technique creating a lovely landscape that any parent will cherish.
lesson space secondary
Lesson : Space Secondary
  • Here is an art exercise meant to reinforce the two different types of space: negative and positive.
  • Students will use black and white paper or complimentary colours of paper and cut out forms, placing them along side one another in a manner that emphasizes these two types of space. Students must be prepared to explain their compositions.

s a n d y s c a r r e d s i l k y s m o o t h s p l i n t e r e d w e t

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f I n e f l u f f y f u z z y g r a i n y h a r d i n l a I d


Texture is the quality of a surface or how a work of art is represented.

There are two types of texture:

Optical - texture that you see, and Tactile - texture that you touch.

The world is full of a variety of textures. Texture is the feeling or visual feeling of a composition. Texture can be created in pictures by using a repetition of lines and shapes. Lines and shading can be used to create different textures.

k n o b b e d l a c e y m a t t e m e t a l l i c p a t I n a p o l I s h e d pr i c k l y r u t t e d

lesson texture elementary
Lesson : Texture Elementary
  • Burlap is a loosely woven and rough fabric. Upon the removal of sections of the weave the students can then re-weave smooth ribbons, different types of fabric or strips of painted paper to create colourful pieces of textured art.
lesson texture secondary
Lesson : Texture Secondary
  • After the building their own frame, students will string yarn back and forth between two pieces of doweling or two branches of wood inserted into the frame.
  • Students are encouraged to be as creative and eclectic in their choice of materials to weave through the yarn in the making of this textured wall hanging.

Starting With… Grauer & Irwin 2005

Chapter 7 the elements of Art – Heather Pastro.


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