The 7 Elements of Art

Have you ever noticed how some paintings seem to come alive? This is due to the visual art elements of line, shape, form, space, value, color and texture.

These are the seven most important elements of art that every artist should learn about. Understanding these visual art elements will help you understand how a piece of artwork was created.


One of the most common elements of art is line. Lines can be straight, curved, thick or thin and they help to guide your eye around a painting.


In paintings, artists want their compositions to feel balanced. Balance is achieved by arranging the opposite elements in a piece to create harmony and stability.

Examples of opposites include light and dark, large and small and rough and smooth textures. Try this tape-resist rainbow art project to explore all of these elements in a fun way!


When looking at art, we can see a variety of shapes that are two-dimensional and take up space. They can be either geometric or organic in nature.

Line is a fundamental element that identifies boundaries within a composition. Lines can be straight, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, short, long or curved. They can also be dotted, dotted-dot, contour or implied.

This art element is important to understand because it can help your students analyze, discuss and create works of art. It is the building block of art.


Form is a visual art element that makes something appear three dimensional on a flat surface like a painting or a drawing. Form can be organic or geometric and is a key component to creating realistic paintings.

Lines are one of the most basic design elements that make up all drawings. They can be straight, curved, thin or thick. They also communicate information to the viewer by guiding their eyes around a composition. Check out this simple tape-resist rainbow art project to explore the element of line!


Space is the area around, between and within objects in a work of art. Artists use this element to imply perspective, define shapes and forms, and to convey emotion or movement.

Space artists are often commissioned to create realistic scenes of planets, stars and dramatic alien landscapes. Occasionally, these artists are also involved with turning scientific and technological concepts for space exploration into visible form. They might even assist in bringing the vision of astronauts and astronomers into the public realm of popular culture.


Value is the lightness or darkness of a color. When it comes to painting, values are very important for creating high contrast. A tint is a light value, while a shade is a dark value. For example, pink is a tint of red, and maroon is a shade of red.

There are many views on what makes art valuable. Some view it as something that can be derived from immoral properties, while others think moral and cognitive factors contribute to artistic value.


Color is the visual element that reflects light to your eyes and can make you feel a range of emotions. Colors have three primary characteristics: hue, value and saturation.

Value describes how light or dark a hue is on the color wheel, with a number indicating its position from white to black. It is important to understand how to create a realistic painting by describing its values.

Pattern is created through repetition and can be varied or exact, like in a zentangle pattern or tessellation. It can also be implied through brushstrokes, as in Van Gogh’s textured paint strokes.


Texture is the surface quality of a painting or other artwork. It can be real (like running your fingers over a silk scarf or unglazed pot) or implied through brushstrokes and patterns.

Each colour has a value that refers to how light or dark it is, as discussed in Element 5. Color can make a work of art look luminous or dull. It is important for artists to balance the seven elements of art in their work so that it looks finished and complete without becoming monotonous or chaotic.


The seven visual art elements are line, shape, value, color, space, form, and texture. These are the building blocks of any piece of art.

Art principles are tools on how to arrange these elements. There are many art principles including balance, proportion, unity, variety, rhythm and emphasis.

Texture can be real (like running your fingers over an Oriental rug or van Gogh’s lumpy, impasto-ed canvases), created (like zentangle patterns or tessellations) or implied (by clever use of shading).

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