Introducing Art: The Elements of Art

The Elements of Art
There are basically 7 elements of Art
which are:
Everything has elements.
The elements of art are sort of like atoms, in that both serve as "building
blocks". Atoms combine and form other things. Sometimes they'll make a simple
molecule, as when hydrogen and oxygen form water (H2O). Or they might form
something more complex, like a molecule of sucrose (sugar) (C12H22O11).
• A similar activity happens
when the elements of art
are combined. Instead of
hydrogen, oxygen, carbon,
etc., in art you've got line,
shape, form, space, value,
texture and color. Artists
manipulate these
elements, mix them in
with principles of design
and compose a piece of
art. Not every work has
every last one of these
elements contained within
it, but there are always at
least two present.
• Art would be sunk without line, sometimes known as
"a moving point". While line isn't something found in
nature, it is absolutely essential, as a concept, to
depicting objects and symbols, and defining shapes.
• Shape is formed whenever lines meet or
implied by value or color change.
• A sculptor, by
default, has to have
both form and space
in a sculpture,
because these
elements are threedimensional. (They
can also be implied in
works through the
use of perspective
and value (or
• Value is one of the most powerful tools for the artist
because it helps to create many of the other elements, like
form, space, texture, line and even color has value (lightness
and darkness). Value also enhances most of the Principles
like emphasis, balance, contrast. Without it, art would be of
no value. (pun intended.)
• Texture is another element, like form or space,
that can be real or created (think of van Gogh's
lumpy, impasto canvases) or implied (through clever
use of shading).
• Color is the most expressive of the
elements and can also be very tricky to use
• The elements of art are important for several reasons.
First, and most importantly, a person can't create art
without utilizing at least a few of them. (No elements, no
art, end of story. And we wouldn't even be talking about any
of this, would we?)
• Secondly, knowing what the elements of art are
enables us to (1) describe what an artist has done,
(2) analyze what is going on in a particular piece and
(3) communicate our thoughts and findings using a
common language.
• Third, and most importantly, when there is a
problem in an art piece it is usually because
there is a problem with one of the elements.
Going through each element can help us see
weak, ineffective, etc. aspects we can fix.
Okay, let’s “recap”!
• Line is the path of a moving point.
Lines define the edges of shapes and
"Trio" by Steve Magada, 1966, Oil, Location unknown
height + width = shape
• Shape is an area enclosed by
line or implied line. It is 2
dimensional and can be
geometric or organic.
Height + width + depth = form
• Forms are 3-Dimensional. They
occupy space or give the illusion
that they occupy the space.
• Space is occupying a 3dimensional area or the
illusion of objects
having depth on a 2dimensional surface.
• Value is the lightness or darkness of a surface.
It is often referred to as shading but value is
also important in the study of color.
(Lightness and darkness)
• Texture is the actual
surface feel of an area or
the simulated appearance
of roughness, smoothness
• Color is the most
expressive element of
art and is seen by the
way light reflects off
a surface.

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