Elements and Principles
Elements of Art and Principles of
THE ELEMENTS AND PRINCIPLES OF
• Elements of Art: the basic components or building
blocks: color, value, line, shape/form, space, and value.
• Principles of Art: describe the different ways artists can
use each of the elements of art. The principles organize
the elements: balance, emphasis, harmony, variety, unity,
movement, rhythm, and proportion.
• Color is an element made up of three distinct
qualities: hue, intensity, and value.
Hue refers to the name of a color. The term is
used to point out the difference between; a blue
and a green, or a red and a yellow.
ELEMENTS: COLOR - Intensity
• When looking at colors, some seem to be
brighter, or purer than others. Such qualities
are referred to as a color’s intensity, or quality
of brightness and purity.
High Intensity Low Intensity
ELEMENTS: COLOR - Value
• When describing a hue, the term value refers
to that hue’s lightness or darkness.
• Value changes are often obtained by adding
black or white to a particular hue. Adding
black creates a shade, adding white creates a
tint. Added Black Added White
opposites on the
Color Wheel, when
mixed create neutral
red, blue, and
yellow – from
which it is
possible to mix
all other colors
The colors obtained
by mixing equal
amounts of two
primary colors –
orange, green, and
Reds, oranges, and
Greens, blues, and
Neutral Colors: Browns,
blacks, grays, and white,
colors not associated
with a hue
Analogous Colors: Colors next
to each other on the color
• The lightness or darkness in a work even when
color is absent.
Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Untitled,
Figure and boat, Gelatin silver print,
• Line is a continuous mark made on
a surface with a pointed tool or
implied by the edges of shapes and
• Line is used to define shape,
contours, and outlines, also to
suggest mass and volume.
• Different effects/feelings are
obtained by using different types of
Types of Line
• Outlines: Lines made by the edge of an object or its
Andy Warhol, Red Lenin, 1987,
Screenprint on Arches paper
Wayne Theibaud, Supine Woman,
1963, oil on canvas.
• Contour Lines: Lines that describe the shape of an
object and the interior detail.
Paul Signac, Still Life with Pitcher, 1919,
Watercolor and graphite
• Gesture Lines: Line that are energetic and catches the
movement and gestures of an active figure.
“Woman with Dead Child”
• Shapes a two-dimensional area clearly set off
by one or more of the other visual elements.
• Shapes are flat and are limited to only two
dimensions: length and width.
• Form has three dimensions: depth, length,
and width. Form is also an object with three
• Space can be thought of as
the distance or area
between, around, above,
below, or within things.
• Two types of space:
– Positive Space: filled with
– Negative Space: empty space,
Alberto Giacometti, The Cage, 1930-31, Wood
• Space can also show perspective
– the technique of projecting an illusion of the 3-D
world onto a 2-D surface
– creates a sense of depth — of receding space.
• There are two main types of perspective:
– Linear Perspective
– Aerial Perspective
• Linear Perspective: follows consistent geometric rules for
rendering objects as they appear to the human eye. For
instance, we see parallel lines as converging in the distance,
although in reality they do not.
Dorothea Lange, The
Road West, 1938,
• Linear Perspective
– Vanishing Point: points on the horizon line where
receding lines / planes converge.
• Linear Perspective
Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael), The School
of Athens, 1510-11, Fresco
• Aerial Perspective: achieved by using less focus, along with
bluer, lighter, and duller hues for the distant spaces and
objects depicted in a picture – also called “atmospheric
Figures, and Trees,
• Position on the
• Relative size
South Beach Bathers,
1907-08, Oil on canvas
Tom Uttech, Enassamishhinjijweian, 2009, Oil on Canvas, 103x112
• Texture is the element of art that refers to the way things
feel, or look as if they might feel if touched.
• Texture can be broken up into two parts:
– Physical Texture/actual is the texture you can actually feel with
your hand. The build up of paint, slipperiness of soft pastel,
layering of collage - all the things that change the nature of the
– Visual Texture/implied is the illusion of physical texture, created
with the materials you use. Paint can be manipulated to give the
impression of texture, while the paper surface remains smooth
Physical Texture/actual Visual Texture/implied
Jasper Johns, Target with Four
Faces, 1930, mixed media.
Ralph Goings, “Ralph’s Diner,” 2008,
Oil on canvas.
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