“Art Works” is a monthly column that provides bits of know-how and reminders of ways to assure the success of your art program. In the coming year, look for advice and suggestions related to learning about, responding to and making art, integrating art into the curriculum, displaying student work, reaching out to the community, and more.–B.H. T eachers can help students become more fluent and confident in creating their own art, as well as being consciously aware of the art elements— line, color, shape/form, texture, space and value—when they view the art of others. Let’s review and define the characteristics of each element separately, basic elements that were likely included when most of us were enrolled in an introductory art course. . when we Review the Elements of Art by Barbara Herberholz yellow work best as primary colors, the same as they do in printers.) Secondary colors—orange, green and violet—are between the primary colors and may be made by mixing two primary colors. Two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel are called complementary. When placed next to each other at their full intensity, they attract attention because of their strong contrast. Intensity has to do with the brightness or dullness of a color; adding its complement may dull a color. Mixing two complementary colors in equal amounts results in a dull gray-brown color. Tints are made by mixing a color with white; shades are made by mixing a color with black. Artwork made with one color with white or black added is called monochromatic. Analogous colors are those next to each other on the color wheel—yellow-orange and red, for example. They resemble each other, sharing one color in common. Neutrals are gray, black, tan and brown. Warm colors are thought of as being red, orange and yellow; cool colors are blue, green and violet. SHAPE and FORM A shape is made when TEXTURE refers to the tactile quality of things. Actual texture is one that we are able to feel with our eyes closed, most often associated with sculpture, architecture and crafts, though a painting may have actual texture (impasto) if the paint was applied thickly. Visual texture in two-dimensional artwork gives the illusion of texture. SPACE is the emptiness of areas around, LINE is the mark left by a dot or point that moves over a surface, starting and stopping someplace, and leaving a path as it is drawn. Perhaps the most common use for the element of line is to show the edges—the contours—of an object. Line has a number of characteristics: direction (horizontal, vertical or diagonal), length (short or long), thick or thin, blurred or sharp, uneven, clear-edged, straight or curved, continuous or broken, and so on. The tool a line is made with relates to its character: contrast the thin, neat sharpness of a pen-and-ink line with one made with a crayon. Drawing tools also respond to coarse or smooth drawing surfaces in different ways. COLOR may be representational or used above, below and between shapes on the flat surface of the picture plane. Sculptors plan to strike a pleasing arrangement of positive shapes and negative spaces, which are those spaces in and around positive shapes. A feeling of balance and unity in a composition means all spaces function in harmony with the rest of the artwork. VALUE refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. White mixed with a pure hue makes a gradation of tints, and black mixed with the same hue makes a scale of shades. An important role that value plays in an artwork is to create the illusion of form on a flat surface—a technique called shading—gradually moving from dark to light. However, some artworks that have no color at all depend on value to communicate their message: pen-andink, charcoal and pencil drawings, etchings, block prints and black-and-white photographs. A strong contrast in value may lend a dramatic or expressive feeling to an artwork. A piece of sculpture may be all one color and catch the light in such a way as to present an impressive range of darks and lights. How the elements of art are combined, emphasized and used in creating an artwork relates to the principles of art. We’ll review these principles in a subsequent column. n arbitrarily to express a strong emotion. Emotions are linked with color—feeling blue, seeing red, green with envy and so on. Kandinsky felt each color had a corresponding musical note and his canvases exploded with color. Van Gogh used colors that spoke strongly of emotions (e.g. for him, yellow stood for love, warmth and friendship). Also, color may be symbolic—red, white and blue for patriotism, green for hope, purple for royalty. The hues appear on the color wheel in the same order as they do on the rainbow. Made up of two equilateral triangles, we see the primary colors—red, yellow and blue. (For tempera mixing, art teachers are finding that magenta, turquoise and 16 a line moves around and comes back and meets itself. A shape with no details inside is flat and may be called a silhouette. A shape may have an outline around it or may be defined by a different color or texture in the space around it. Shapes have size; they may overlap to give a feeling of depth. Shapes may be realistic or artists may simplify, exaggerate or change the shapes they see to serve an expressive or abstract purpose. Shapes are shaded to represent a three-dimensional form in nature. Forms have three dimensions—length, width and depth—and therefore are referred to in sculpture, architecture and various craft areas. Both shapes and forms may be either geometric or freeform. Barbara Herberholz is an art-education consultant in Sacramento, Calif., and an Arts & Activities Contributing Editor. She and her late husband, Donald Herberholz, Ed.D., wrote “Artworks for Elementary Teachers,” now in its Ninth Edition (McGraw-Hill; 2002). x www.ar tsandactivities.com october 2010
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