The Elements of Art

Foundations of Art by Gary Freeman & Design Students

Foundations of Art by Gary Freeman & Design I Students

Welcome to an easy-to-understand description of the basic concepts of art and design including the elements of art for art students, beginning artists, and collectors.

Value, Color, Line, Shape, Mass, Texture

Value - the lightness or darkness of areas in a composition

Color - the visual sensation resulting from the reflection of wave lengths of light from differing surfaces

Line - a mark made by a moving point

Shape - a two-dimensional area in a composition defined or determined by other elements such as value, color, or texture.
Two Types of Shapes

  • Geometric shapes - man-made shapes, rectangles, triangles, etc.)
  • Organic shapes - natural and biomorphic forms

Texture - the surface quality of a material (rough, smooth, etc…)
Types of texture

  • Actual, Real or tactile texture is the actual surface of a material
  • Simulated texture is a surface that has been carved, modeled, or molded to look like another
  • Visual, illusionary or faux texture is a smooth surface that is rendered or printed to look like a real texture
  • Impasto the actual texture heavily applied paint
  • Collage a composition with paper or other materials glued onto the surface

Mass - volume, solidity, three-dimensional form. Directly or illusionistically.

The task of artists is to organize elements into a comprehensible whole
by simplifying, organizing and unifying
.” - Kenneth Bates

* Online Art Instructors: This page is provided as Open Courseware for internet instruction of the fundmentals of color and design for Art Appreciation, Art Foundations, and Design I courses.

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