Have you ever heard of the seven elements of art? Do you know what they are?
Try comparing them to the elements found in nature: hydrogen, oxygen, iron, gold, etc. Just as everything we see is made up of some combination of natural elements, so all art is made up of some combination of the art elements.
There are 118 physical elements on the periodic table, with 94 occurring naturally. However, there’s a difference of opinion on the number of art elements that can be identified. Some people suggest only five, others six, but most lists include seven.
If you plan to teach art at home, the elements of art are foundational. So today’s post is focused on helping you understand the elements and incorporate them into your homeschool art curriculum.
Here’s a list of the elements. Some of the terms are self-explanatory, but others might need a bit of explanation:
Line – Just look around you and you’ll see lines everywhere. Thick and thin. Short and long. Straight and curved. Zig-zagged.
Shape – The next step up from a line is a shape. Circle. Triangle. Square. Trapezoid. Blob. (Sounds like we’re back in geometry class, except for that last one!)
Form – A form is a shape with dimension. Whether it’s an actual object or a drawing of something that is rendered to look like it’s 3-D.
Texture – Smooth, rough, bumpy, jagged, shiny, dull.
Space – Space is a bit tricky, especially when you’re thinking in terms of a “flat” painting. Essentially, space is the area taken up by an object. However, often artists will use “negative space” (the space around an object) in their work.
Color – As opposed to a “neutral” such as gray, black, or white.
Value – The lightness or darkness of an object.
Now that you know the basic elements of art, how do you teach them to your children? Here are several Web sites and videos that may be of help. Check them out:
- This link will take you to a brief “slide show” that covers the basic elements:
- Here’s a link to a web page that lists ideas for teaching your children about the elements of art. (Note: This site is from the U.K., so the terminology is a bit different. But it’s still a good resource.)
- The following article from arthistory.about.com explains why the elements are important.
Finally, the following super-short video (about 1 min) will give you a quick reference for understanding the art elements. This video lists 8 elements (see what I mean about a difference of opinion regarding the number?), including Type (as in print/typeface) as an element.