Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

color theoryIn the previous lesson, titled “Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1” we looked at the basics of color and its relationship on the color wheel. In this lesson, color harmony (a.k.a color schemes), will be discussed.

Color Harmony

Color harmony is the relationship of colors that work well together. A harmony can be basic having only one color with several shades (monochromatic) or two colors that complement one another, or it can be a more advanced relationship involving a combination of multiple colors. There are many ideas for achieving harmony in our color palettes. These harmonies are based on the color wheel. A color wheel is a handy tool to have around as it helps the artist understand which colors work well together. Following are some illustrations and descriptions introducing some of the more popular color harmonies.


light house monument palo duro canyon state parkLighthouse Monument, Palo Duro Canyon
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
16″ x 12″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

>> More info


Color Relationships

• Monochromatic

The word “monochromatic” means one color and a monochromatic color scheme is made from the various tones, shades and tints that are surprisingly possible within a single color. Monochromatic colors work well together, producing a harmonizing and soothing effect.

A monochromatic color scheme is created by choosing a single color from any of the twelve colors found on the color wheel, then using it along with its various tints, shades and tones. The example below is a monochromatic family.

monochromatic color scheme

 

• Complementary

ColorWheel-OppositesComplementary colors (a.k.a. color opposites) are those that are located directly opposite each other on the color wheel. For example: violet is the complementary of yellow since it is located opposite of yellow on the color wheel.

The complementary or color opposites are:

ο  Red and green
ο  Yellow and violet
ο  Blue and orange
ο  Yellow-green and red-purple
ο  Yellow-orange and blue-violet
ο  Red-orange and blue-green
ο  Red-violet and yellow-green
ο  Red-orange and blue-green
ο  Blue-violet and yellow-orange

Painting tips regarding color opposites:

1) When equal amounts of color opposites are mixed together they will cancel each other out resulting in a drab neutral gray.

color opposites vibrate2) When color opposites are placed next to each other, especially when fully saturated, they create the strongest contrast between them and will even create the optical illusion of appearing to vibrate. This illusion is most evident between red and green.

• Split-Complementary

split-complementary color schemeA variation on the complementary color scheme is the split-complementary color scheme. Rather than the color opposite the key color on the wheel, the split complementary takes the two colors directly on either side of the complementary color. For example if your key color is yellow, you would select the two colors on either side of violet instead of violet to make up this harmony of colors.

This scheme allows for a nicer range of colors while still not deviating from the basic harmony between the key color and its complementary color. It has the same visual appeal as the complementary color scheme, however, with less contrast and tension.  The split complimentary color scheme is a safe choice for virtually any design as it is near impossible to mess up and always looks good.

• Analogous

colorwheel-AnalogousAnalogous colors are groups of three colors that sit next to one another on the color wheel. One being the main or dominant color and two supporting colors. The effect of this color scheme can be quite dramatic as these hues usually work very well together in creating a sense of unity or harmony within the composition.

When using this color scheme, choose one as the dominate color (usually a primary or secondary color), a second color to support, and a third as an accent.

• Accented Analogous

accented analogous colorsAn accented analogous scheme (also called analogous complementary) is a combination of the analogous and complementary color schemes. It consists of colors which sit next to each other on the color wheel and a color that is directly opposite to these. The direct complement then becomes the accent color to create a dynamic contrast against the dominant color grouping. This is a great way to add warmth to a cool analogous color pallet or a cool accent color to an otherwise warm color scheme.

Painting tips using this color scheme:

1) This color scheme works best when the number of colors used are limited to four.

2) A good time to use this scheme is when three closely relate colors are dominating a design. Adding the contrasting color provides a surprising accent for the composition.

• Triadic (Triad)

triadic color schemeA triadic color scheme is made up of three colors which are equally spaced from one another on the color wheel forming an equilateral triangle. Thus every fourth color on the color wheel will make up part of a triad.

Some examples of triadic color schemes could be:

ο  Red / Yellow / Blue
ο  Orange / Green / Violet
ο  Yellow-Orange / Blue-Green / Red-Violet
ο  Yellow-Green / Blue-Violet / Red-Orange

Painting tips for mixing triad colors:

1) Work with only the three selected colors in your triad and their mixes.
2) Make one of your colors dominant with the other two acting as subordinates.
3) Add variety to your design by including different shades, tints and tones of your triad colors.

Test your knowledge of Color. Take this simple test.

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art (Introduction)

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Form

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Shape

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value


Test Your Knowledge of Fine Art: Elements and Principles of Design

an introduction to the principles of good design.Test your knowledge of the elements and principles of good design. Take this simple test by writing your answers on paper, then check your answers at the end of the test. Don’t peek!

1. The principles of good design are _______.

A.    color, depth, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value
B.    balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, proportion, repetition, simplicity, space, and unity
C.    all of the above
D.    none of the above

2. The elements of design are _______.

A.    color, depth, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value
B.    balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, proportion, repetition, simplicity, space, and unity
C.    all of the above
D.    none of the above


Jerusalem painting“The Garden Tomb at Sunset”
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
12″ x 9″
Oils on stretched canvas

>> More info


3. A type of balance in which both sides of a composition are balanced yet different is called _______.

A.    asymmetrical
B.    radial
C.    symmetrical
D.    geometric

4. Formal balance is another word for _______ balance.

A.    asymmetrical
B.    radial
C.    symmetrical
D.    geometric

5. Another word for “center of interest” is _______.

A.    focal point
B.    emphasis
C.    dominance
D.    all of the above

6. The choice of colors used in a design plan is called a _______.

A.    color spectrum
B.    color wheel
C.    color scheme
D.    color mix

7. A circular chart used to show color relationships is called a _______.

A.    color scheme
B.    color wheel
C.    color ray
D.    color circle

8. Colors that are different in lightness and darkness are said to be _______.

A.    contrasting
B.    light in value
C.    dark in value
D.    bright and intense

9. Which of the following can be used to create contrast in a composition?

A.    Smooth and rough textures
B.    Large and small shapes
C.    Plain areas against areas of patterns
D.   All of the above

10. _______ is another word for the brightness of a color.

A.    Value
B.    Intensity
C.    Hue
D.    Complementary

11. _______ is an element of art that refers to the sense of touch.

A.    Value
B.    Pattern
C.    Texture
D.    Shape

12. Negative space is the background or area surrounding an object in a composition.

True | False

13. Rhythm is created when various visual elements are repeated.

True | False

14. Variation is the use of the same lines, shapes, textures, and colors within an artwork.

True | False

15. Unity is obtained when all parts of a design are working together as a team.

True | False

16. Blue and orange are _______ colors.

A.    primary
B.    related or analogous
C.    secondary
D.    complementary


church painting“Van Gogh’s Church at Auvers, France”
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
20″ x 24″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

>> More info


17. Red, yellow, and blue are _______ colors.

A.    primary
B.    related or analogous colors
C.    secondary colors
D.    complementary colors

18. Visual _______ is achieved when all parts of a composition have equal weight and appear to be stable.

A.    focal point
B.    unity
C.    balance
D.    pattern

19. _______ is a three-dimensional geometrical figure showing height, width and depth.

A.    Space
B.    Form
C.    Balance
D.    Line

20. Various art elements, like lines, colors, or shapes, that are repeated over and over in a planned way creates a _______.

A.    focal point
B.    unity
C.    balance
D.    pattern

21. The lightness or darkness of a color is referred to as the _______.

A.    shape
B.    value
C.    intensity
D.   texture

22. _______ may be geometric or organic.

A.    Shape
B.    Value
C.    Intensity
D.   Texture

23. _______ is the suggestion of action or direction, the path our eyes follow when we look at a work of art.

A.    Proportion
B.    Simplicity or visual economy
C.    Rhythm
D.    Movement

24. _______ is the relation of two things in size, number, amount, or degree within a design.

A.    Proportion
B.    Simplicity or visual economy
C.    Rhythm
D.    Movement

25. _______ is the elimination of all non-essential elements or details to reveal the essence of a form.

A.    Proportion
B.    Simplicity or visual economy
C.    Rhythm
D.    Movement

26. Symmetry, asymmetry and radial are all types of _______.

A.    Texture
B.    Balance
C.    Patterns
D.    Form

27. Creating a sense of visual oneness in a work of art is called _______.

A.    Form
B.    Value
C.    Unity
D.    Texture

28. _______ is a mark with greater length than width. They can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, sraight, curved, thick, or thin.

A.    Color
B.    Shape
C.    Texture
D.    Line

29. Shapes and/or forms similar to those found in nature are _______.

A.    geometric
B.    pattern
C.    organic
D.    texture

30. The element of art referring to the emptiness or area between, around, above, below or within objects:

A.    color
B.    shape
C.    form
D.    space

31. Space is the element of art that helps create the illusion of a foreground, middle ground and background.

True | False

Additional Reading

For more information on this subject see:


Answers: 1B 2A 3A 4C 5D 6C 7B 8A 9D 10B 11C 12T 13T 14F 15T 16D 17A 18C 19B 20D 21B 22A 23D 24A 25B 26B 27C 28D 29C 30D 31T

Basic Art Element — Space

Space is one of the basic elements of art. It refers to the distance between or the area around and within shapes, forms, colors and lines. Space can be positive or negative. It includes the background, foreground and middle ground. Both positive and negative space can play important roles in the overall success of a work of art. By understanding the difference between the two, you will:

  • Become better at designing unified compositions.
  • Be more successful in visually communicating your story.
  • Gain important clues about the meaning of an art piece.

positive and negative spaceThere are two types of space that exist within art — positive space and negative space. Positive space is the actual objects or shapes within an artwork and negative space is the space around and between those objects. A good way to demonstrate positive and negative space is by utilizing Rubin’s vase. (Refer to illustration.) As you can see the vase occupies what would be referred to as positive space and the space surrounding the vase is negative space. Notice how the negative space is forming silhouettes of two faces in profile.


lunar landscape painting on canvas“Moonset”
Space Art by Teresa Bernard
20″ x 16″
Oils on gallery wrap stretch canvas

>> More info


Positive Space

Positive space is the area or part of the composition that an object or subject occupies. It is usually the main focus of the painting, such as a vase of flowers, fruit, or candle in a still life, a person’s face in a portrait, or an animal in a wild life painting, or a building, trees and hills in a landscape. When used skillfully, positive space will add interest by enhancing and balancing the negative space in a composition.

Negative Space

Negative space is that empty or open space that surrounds an object. It helps to define the object, gives it some breathing room to prevent the painting from being too crowded and has a huge impact on how the art piece is perceived.

An interesting thing about negative space is it can be used to prompt viewers to seek out subtle hidden images within the negative space causing your design to get more attention and to be remembered while other less interesting works aren’t.

Why is negative space so important?

  1. It can add interest and is an excellent way to draw attention to your works of art. A good balance between great negative space and intrigue will cause the viewer to desire more time looking at your work of art.
  2. It can draw the viewer in giving them a sense of inclusion because they discovered a subtle hidden message or image in the composition. Even though it may be a simple composition, great negative space reveals there is more to the piece than first meets the eye making it a more rewarding experience for the viewer.
  3. It gives the eye a “place to rest,” thereby adding to the subtle appeal of the composition. The equal amounts of both negative and positive is considered by many to be good design.

Questions

  1. Does a negative space have shape?
  2. In what ways is negative space important to the overall success of a composition?

Additional Information

Principles of Good Design: Space

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art (Introduction)

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Form

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Shape

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value

Basic Art Element — Texture

Anything that has a surface has some type of texture. Texture is the way a surface looks and feels. It is experienced in two ways — with touch (tactile) and with our eyes (visually). Fine artists often use texture in the following ways to:

  • create a focal point
  • add interest
  • provide contrast
  • visually balance their compositions

tractor tire oil paintingTractor Tire
Still life by Teresa Bernard
12″ x 16″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

>> More info


Texture is essential in paintings to make objects appear to be real. Even in abstract paintings texture can serve to enhance the viewers experience by suggesting certain feelings or mood regarding the artwork. Texture can also serve to organize and unify various areas of a composition.

Texture can either add to or take away from the overall effect of the composition. When it is used haphazardly or in the wrong way, it can confuse or clutter the painting. However, when used with deliberate skill, texture will bring a composition together creating the illusion of realism and adding unity.

There are two types of texture — tactile and visual.

Tactile texture is the real thing. It is the actual way a surface feels when it is felt or touched, such as rough, smooth, soft, hard, silky, slimy, sticky, etc. 3-D art such as sculpture and architectural structures are tactile in nature because they can be felt. An example of real texture would be wood, sandpaper, canvas, rocks, glass, granite, metal, etc.

Even the brush strokes used in a painting can create a textured surface that can be felt and seen. The building up of paint on the surface of a canvas or board, so that it creates actual texture, is called impasto. Painters may choose to apply their paints thickly or thinly depending on overall effect that is wished to be achieved.

Visual texture is not real texture. All textures you observe in photographs are visual textures. No matter how rough objects may seem to appear in a photograph, the surface of the photograph is always going to be smooth and flat to the touch.

Artists can create the illusion of texture in their paintings by simulation or implying it through the use of various art elements such as line, shading and color. It is created by repeating lines, dot or other shapes to create a pattern. Varying the size, density, and orientation of these marks will produce other desired effects as well.


boat fenders canvas artStill Life with Boat Fenders
Marine life by Teresa Bernard
9″ x 12″
Oils on canvas panel board

>> More info


Common Textures

Although there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of different types of texture, nonetheless, all texture will fall under two broad categories — rough and smooth. For example:

Rough Smooth
Course Fine
Bumpy Slick
Dry Wet
Flat Wrinkled
Scaly Silky
Glossy Matte
Sandy Slimy
Hairy Bald
Hard Soft
Prickly Velvety
Sharp Dull
Sticky Slippery

What other textures can you think of? Comment below.

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art (Introduction)

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Form

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Shape

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value


Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

tube of oil paint
Color, also called “hue”.

Color is the element of art that involves light. It is produced when light waves strike an object and are reflected into our eyes. It consists of three properties: hue, intensity, and value.

  • Hue — This is simply the name that is given to a color, such as red, yellow, blue, purple, green, orange, etc.
  • Intensity (or saturation) — This refers to the purity or dullness of a color. Purity is determined by whether or not a color has been mixed with another color and if so, to what degree. Colors straight from the tube are considered the most intense. Those mixed with other colors are considered less intense.  There are two methods that can be used to dull the intensity of a color:
    1) Mix the color with gray
    2) Mix the color with its complement
  • Value — This is the lightness or darkness of a color. A color’s value changes when white or black is added. Adding white creates a “tint” of that color and adding black creates a “shade”.

Marine still lifeBoat Fenders
Marine Still life by Teresa Bernard
9″ x 12″
Oils on canvas panel board

>> More info


Using color effectively in the creation of art involves understanding three basic areas: the color wheel, color value, and color schemes or as it is also referred to, color harmony.

The Color Wheel

basic color wheelThe color wheel (sometimes called a color circle) is a handy tool often used by artists and interior decorators as a visual aid in understanding the relationship between colors. It was developed in 1666 by Sir Isaac Newton when he took the color spectrum and bent it into a circle. The color wheel is a circular chart divided into 12 sections with each sector showing a different color. It is made up of three different types of colors – primary, secondary, and tertiary. The term “tertiary” means third, by the way.

  • primary colors on the color wheelPrimary colors are red, yellow, and blue. These colors are equally distanced apart on the color wheel. There only three primary colors and they are the most basic colors on the wheel. They cannot be created by mixing any other colors together and can only be derived through natural pigments. All other colors found on the color wheel can be mixed from these three basic colors.
  • secondary colors on the color wheelSecondary colors are orange, green and purple (or violet). These colors are created from mixing equal parts of any two primary colors together.
    • Red + yellow = orange
    • Yellow + blue = green
    • Blue + red = violet (purple)
  • Tertiary colors are red-purple, red-orange, blue-green, blue-purple, yellow-green, and yellow-orange. There are six tertiary colors and they are the result from mixing equal parts of a primary color with a secondary color. The proper way to refer to tertiary colors is by listing the primary color first and then the secondary color. That’s why tertiary colors are referred to by a two word name.
    • tertiary colors on the color wheelRed + violet (purple) = red-violet (red-purple)
    • Red + orange = red-orange
    • Blue + green = blue-green
    • Blue + violet (purple) = blue-violet (blue-purple)
    • Yellow + orange = yellow-orange
    • Yellow + green = yellow-green

Color Values

Color also has a value. Value is a measurement to describe the lightness or darkness of a color. It is determined based on how close the color is to white. For instance, lighter colors such as yellow will have lighter values than darker colors like navy blue.

A good way to see the difference in the values of colors is to look at the greyscale. White is the lightest value, while black is the darkest. Middle gray is the value halfway between these two extremes.

basic art element value

The value of a color value can be affected simply by adding white or black to it. By adding white to a hue, a lighter value is the result. Lighter values are called “tints”. When is black added to a hue, the value becomes darker, creating a “shade” of that color. See example below.

colorscale_value_art_element

Color Temperature

The temperature of color is how we perceive a particular color, either warm or cool. Warm colors range from red to yellow on the color wheel, whereas cool colors range from blue to green and to violet. Each temperature takes-up one-half of the color wheel (see images below). Somewhere in the green and violet spectrums the temperature changes between warm and cool.

The characteristics of warm and cool colors include:

Warm Colors

Warm colors• are made with red, orange, or yellow and combinations of them
• tend to feel warm reminding us of heat and sunshine
• tend to advance into the foreground, i.e. come toward the viewer
• may feel more energetic, attention-grabbing and aggressive

Cool colors

Cool colors• are made with blue, green, or violet and combinations of them
• tend to feel cool reminding us of water and sky
• tend to recede into the background, i.e. move away from the viewer
• are more calming and soothing

Neutral Colors

Neutral colors do not appear on the color chart and are neither warm nor cool. They are called neutral because they lack color and are derived by mixing equal parts of color opposites together (i.e. red + green, blue + orange, or yellow + purple) resulting in drab looking grays.

Black and white are also consider neutral because they are neither warm or cool and do not change color.

This lesson on color continues in part 2 where color harmony is discussed.

Test your knowledge of color by taking this simple online test.

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art (Introduction)

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Form

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Shape

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value


Basic Art Element — Value

Value is a basic element of art that refers to the gradual change of lightness or darkness of a color. It is created when a light source shines upon an object creating highlights, form shadows and cast shadows.

basic art element valueValue is most evident on the gray scale where black is represented as lowest or darkest and white is represented as the highest or lightest value. Or more simply said, they are the various shades of grey between white and black. Artists us them to create highlights and shadows (shading) in objects and create depth in their paintings or drawings.

Colors can have value too. In painting, value changes can be achieved by adding either black or white to the chosen color. Some colors, like yellow and orange, are naturally light in value.


rose flower painting“Yellow Rose of Texas”
Flower Art by Teresa Bernard
18″ x 18″
Oils on stretch canvas

>> More info


The Benefits of Values in an Oil Painting

Successful paintings have a full range of value. This means that there are ample amounts of both light values and dark values. Paintings which possess a full range of values tend to stand out more and are more pleasing to the eye.

emphasis in artValue creates contrast and adds emphasis. The human eye tends to be drawn to areas of high contrast. High contrast occurs when lighter elements are placed directly next to much darker ones thereby creating a dramatic effect. This is a technique that is used to draw attention to specific areas of a painting that the artist wants to emphasize thus creating a focal point. For example, a light figure on a dark background will become the center of attention, and a dark figure on a mostly white background will command the eye’s attention as well.

shading graphicValue creates the illusion of depth. Value is an important tool to suggest roundness or depth. It helps to create depth within by making an object look three-dimensional or a landscape to appear to recede into the distance. Light values make elements feel like they are further away and dark values make them seem closer.

Value creates opportunity to set the mood.

  • Low Key — These are paintings that exhibit mostly dark values and very few lights. Low key paintings have very little contrast and seem to communicate a depressing, sad, or mysterious mood. Paintings with predominantly dark values often conveys a sense of the nocturnal and secretive, of things hidden just beyond sight.
  • High Key — These are paintings that feature mostly light values and very few darks. There isn’t much contrast in a high key painting. Usually these paintings possess a light, happy mood. Female portraits are often high key as they can convey delicacy, innocence and dreaminess.

Using both high and low key colors in a painting can create contrast which often feels dramatic or exciting.

Additional Reading

Creating Depth in Your Paintings via Atmospheric Perspective

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art (Introduction)

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Form

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Shape

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value

Basic Art Element — Line

A line is a long, narrow mark or band connecting two points. It has one-dimension — length. When two ends of a line meet, a shape is created. Lines can suggest forms by creating volume. Lines can also create textures and pattern when combined with other lines.

A line is a basic building block* of all visual art. They are very important to a composition as lines perform a number of functions. They can be used to divide the composition, direct the viewers gaze, define shapes, and/or make a statement.

Lines allow the artist to direct the viewer’s eye into and around the composition along a path from form, color, or shape within a work of art. They can vary in width, direction, and length, and they often define the edges of a form. Lines can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, straight, curved, thick, or thin.


Texas Flag Barn canvas art“Texas Flag Barn”
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
20″ x 16″
Oils on gallery wrap stretch canvas

>> More info


Types Of Lines

  • Horizontal lines
    • suggest landscape and the horizon
    • impart a sense of peacefulness, vastness, stability and constancy
    • associated with earth bound things and suggest a feeling of rest or repose
  • Vertical lines 
    • are perpendicular to the horizon and stretch from the earth to the heavens
    • communicate a feeling of solidity, loftiness and spirituality
    • impart a sense of height, grandeur, and formality
    • gives the impression of dignity that extends upwards toward the sky beyond human reach
    • suggest power with a strong foundation
  • Horizontal and vertical lines used in combination 
    • are structurally stable and are not likely to tip over
    • communicate stability and solidity
    • suggests permanence, reliability and safety
  • Diagonal lines 
    • suggest depth and the illusion of perspective that pulls the viewer into the painting
    • appear to being unbalanced, either rising or falling, neither vertical nor horizontal
    • convey action, movement or direction, restless and uncontrolled energy
    • can appear solid and unmoving if they are holding something up or at rest against a vertical line or plane
  • Curved lines
    • sweep and turn gracefully between end points and is another type of line that the eye like to follow
    • provide a greater dynamic influence in a picture
    • are more aesthetically pleasing, as they are associated with comfort, familiarity, relaxation, softness and sensuality
    • can also communicate confusion, turbulence, even frenzy, as in the violence of waves in a storm, etc.
  • Organic lines
    • occur in nature and are associated with things from the natural world, like plants and animals
    • are irregular, curved, and often fluid
    • convey a sense of gracefulness, dynamism, and spontaneity
  • Implied lines
    • don’t actually exist at all and can not be shown visually
    • are lines created by values, colors, textures or shapes that guide the eye though the piece of artwork
    • are what is implied in the mind’s eye when we see and mentally fill in the spaces between objects
    • are created with directional elements such as shape, hand gesture, eye contact or gazing in a direction (even off canvas)
  • Contour lines 
    • define the edges of objects and also the edges of negative space between objects
    • create boundaries around or inside an object
  • Geometric lines
    • are mathematically determined
    • are rarely found in nature, but often found in man-made constructions
    • have regularity and hard or sharp edges
    • convey a sense of order, conformity, and reliability

*Click for more information about the basic elements of art.

Homework

Draw an example of each type of line as described above.

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art (Introduction)

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Form

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Shape

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value

The Basic Elements of Art

Learning about the basic art elements and how they work in conjunction with the principles of good design.

The basic elements of art are the “building blocks” used to create any visual art piece. The elements are color, form, line, shape, space, texture and value. Without them, it would be impossible for an artist to create art. Every artist, whether they realize it or not, uses at least two or more of these elements in their art-making. For example, in sculpture an artist uses both space and form, and a painter will utilize line and shape when creating a painting.


still life oil paintingThe Study
Still life by Teresa Bernard
14″ x 11″
Oils on stretched canvas

>> More info


Defining The Elements

  • Color — A pigment used in artwork, along with their various values and intensities, such as the primary colors – red, yellow and blue.
  • Form — The mass of the shapes created by the forming of two or more shapes or as three-dimensional shapes when showing height, width and depth.
  • Line — A mark (actual or implied) that spans the distance between two points used to define shape in two-dimensional work. Implied line is the path that the viewer’s eye takes as it moves along a path from form, color, or shape within a work of art. Click for more information about lines in art.
  • Shape — Any area defined by edges within the piece bound by line, value, or color. It can be geometric (for example: square, circle, hexagon, etc.) or organic (such as the shape of a puddle, blob, splatter, etc.).
  • Space — Refers to the empty or occupied areas around, between or within components of an art piece. It is either negative (empty space) or positive (occupied space).
  • Texture — The way a surface feels or is perceived to feel. The actual or implied structure and minute molding of a surface (rough, smooth, etc.) which can either be seen or felt with the sense of touch.
  • Value  Shading used to emphasize form. The degree of lightness or darkness of any given color within a piece of art. Adding white to lighten the color is called “tint” while addition of black is called “shade”.

An artist will skillfully use these elements, mixing them in with the principles of design to compose a sensational piece of art. Not all of the elements have to be utilized, however, there will always have to be at least two present.

Questions

Why are the elements of art so important?

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Form

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Shape

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value