Elements of Art

by lesley // posted on Jul 10, 2017

Line is one of the 7 elements of art.  Let's take a look at line using a recently completed painting as an example. 

Line is probably the most fundamental of the elements with its own characteristics.

  • a starting place for our creative idea
  • an identifiable path joining two points
  • used to define the edges of a form
  • directs the eye around the surface of the painting
  • provides information through character ie: thick/thin, straight/curved, horizontal/vertical/diagonal, continuous/broken, light/dark

In this new painting I relied heavily on line to say what I had to say.  Value and space are other strong elements in this piece but today, we'll just focus on the use of line.

Enchanted Labyrinth
20 x 30 oil on canvas

Here, the most powerful lines are the vertical and the diagonal.

The verticals have several varying characteristics that provide viewer information.  The background trees are thinner, lighter, less defined - they say we're less significant, support crew.  Necessary but not the stars of the show.

The larger, dark verticals in the foreground demand attention with height and depth of colour.  Though there are no vertical figures here, the viewer standing in front of the painting finds relationship with the trees.

The diagonal starting near the middle ground becomes more defined, therefore stronger, as the eye moves forward.  It's more interesting and powerful compared to what a horizontal might have been.  Diagonal lines suggest imbalance or the potential for movement and so lend mystery to the whole.

The other 6 elements in art are: 

  • shape
  • colour
  • texture
  • form
  • value
  • space

Perhaps we'll take a look at each one individually in future posts as they are the building blocks of visual art.

An artist can express individual style by awareness and use of the elements.

Knowledge of these elements is also useful to art enthusiasts as reference to determine what one might look for in a well executed painting.

Do you consider the 7 elements while painting and if so, how do they impact your work?  


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