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Elements of Visual Art

Grades: K, 1, 2
Related Subjects: English - Language Arts, Mathematics, Visual & Performing Arts
Medium: Drawing, Painting
Class time required: 2 X 40 minute sessions
Author: Museum of Photographic Arts

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Summary

In this four-session lesson, students will be able to identify the elements of art (line, shape, and texture) in works of art and will sort them into categories.

Materials

  • Books that introduce art elements
  • Crayons
  • Finger paint
  • Construction paper
  • Objects with different textures (rocks, sticks, hairbrush, pencils, yarn, etc.)

Images

Untitled, Janet Sobel

Untitled, Janet Sobel
Janet Sobel

Untitled, Charles Arnoldi

Untitled, Charles Arnoldi
Charles Arnoldi

Untitled, Tetsuo Ochikubo

Untitled, Tetsuo Ochikubo
Tetsuo Ochikubo

Improvisation

Improvisation
Konrad Cramer

Doors I

Doors I
Claudia Fernandez

Forms in Space

Forms in Space
John Henry Bradley Storrs

Synchroformic #18 - Horizontal Duo

Synchroformic #18 - Horizontal Duo
John Sennhauser

Aluminum Horse #5

Aluminum Horse #5
Deborah Butterfield

Guanyin Bodhisattva

Guanyin Bodhisattva
Unknown

Observation

Observation
Manierre Dawson

Suit of Armor

Suit of Armor
Myochin Morisuke

Teachers Preparation

Session Three:

  • Have objects with different textures ready for students to touch.

Session Four:

  • Place one set of 10 pictures on 3 different tables. Also place baskets labeled: lines, shape, texture.

Procedures

Session One: Line
1. Begin a discussion with the students about elements of art: I want you to think about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. What ingredients do you need? (peanut butter, jelly, bread) These are the elements of making a sandwich. Over the next few days we are going to talk about the elements of art.

2. Have a discussion with the students about line: Who knows what a line looks like? Have a few students draw lines on the board. Do all lines have to be straight? Can lines be curvy? Can lines be zigzag?

3. Read a book about lines to the students.

4. Ask a few students to draw different types of lines on the board. Label each line (straight, curved, wavy, broken, thick, thin).

5. Hand out construction paper, pencils, and crayons (or finger paints) to each student. Have the students copy the line drawings onto a piece of paper using the crayons or paints. Then have the students label the lines. Kindergarten students can just write “lines” at the top of the page, while 1st and 2nd grade students can label each specific line.


Session Two: Shapes
1. Begin a discussion reviewing line: What do you remember about lines? Name some different types of lines? Do all lines have to be straight? Ask a few students to draw some lines on the board.

2. Continue the discussion introducing shapes: Who can name a type of shape? Where do you see this shape in the classroom?

3. Read a book about shapes to the students.

4. Ask a few students to draw different shapes on the board. Label each shape (circle, triangle, square, rectangle, cube, sphere, cone).

5. Hand out construction paper, pencils, and crayons (or finger paints) to each student. Have the students copy the shapes onto a piece of paper using the crayons or paints. Then have the students label the shapes. Kindergarten students can just write “shapes” at the top of the page, while 1st and 2nd grade students can label each specific shape.

Session Three: Texture
1. Begin a discussion reviewing line and shape: What do you remember about lines? What do you remember about shapes? Who can name a type of line? Where do you see this line in the classroom? Who can name a type of shape? Where do you see this shape in the classroom?

2. Hold up an object. Continue the discussion introducing texture: What does it feel like when you touch this object? Is it smooth? Is it sharp? Is it bumpy? Continue this discussion with all of the objects.

3. Read a book about texture to the students.

4. Ask the students to share the different types of texture described in the book.

Session Four: Art Elements
1. Begin a discussion reviewing line, shape, and texture: Who can find a wavy line in the classroom? Who can find a square? Who can find a circle? Who can find something with a smooth texture? Who can find something with a rough texture? Continue until you feel you have reviewed enough.

2. Explain to the students that they are going to look at pictures of artwork and, as a group, decide if the pictures show lines, shapes, or texture. Some pictures can fit into more than one category. Once they have decided what the picture shows, have the students place the picture in the basket with that label.

3. Assign the students to one of the three tables and give them 5 minutes to place the pictures in the correct basket.

4. Once the images are sorted the students will have to tell why each picture is in each category. (This will be done as a class.)

5. Ask students to write in their journals retelling something that they learned during the lesson.


Extensions
Visual and Performing Arts: Create a piece of artwork using geometric shapes, lines, and texture.

Standards

CA Content Standards

Kindergarten Visual Arts:
1.3 Identify the elements of art (line, color, shape/form, texture, value, space) in the environment and in works of art, emphasizing line, color, and shape/form.

2.6 Use geometric shapes/forms (circle, triangle, square) in a work of art.

2.7 Create a three-dimensional form, such as a real or imaginary animal.

First Grade Visual Arts:
1.3 Identify the elements of art in objects in nature, in the environment, and in works of art, emphasizing line, color, shape/form, and texture.

2.1 Use texture in two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art.

4.1 Discuss works of art created in the classroom, focusing on selected elements of art (e.g., shape/form, texture, line, color).

5.3 Identify and sort pictures into categories according to the elements of art emphasized in the works (e.g., color, line, shape/form, texture).

Second Grade Visual Arts:
1.3 Identify the elements of art in objects in nature, the environment, and works of art, emphasizing line, color, shape/form, texture, and space.

Kindergarten English-Language Arts:
1.0 Students write words and brief sentences that are legible.

2.1 Describe people, places, things (e.g., size, color, shape), locations, and actions.

First Grade English-Language Arts:
2.2 Respond to who, what, when, where, and how questions.

1.0 Students write clear and coherent sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea. Their writing shows they consider the audience and purpose.

2.1 Write brief narratives (e.g., fictional, autobiographical) describing an experience.

1.0 Students listen critically and respond appropriately to oral communication.

Second Grade English-Language Arts:
1.0 Students write clear and coherent sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea. Their writing shows they consider the audience and purpose.

2.1 Write brief narratives based on their experiences.

1.0 Students listen critically and respond appropriately to oral communication.

Kindergarten Mathematics:
2.1 Identify and describe common geometric objects (e.g., circle, triangle, square, rectangle, cube, sphere, cone).

First Grade Mathematics:
2.1 Identify, describe, and compare triangles, rectangles, squares, and circles, including the faces of three-dimensional objects.

Second Grade Mathematics:
2.1 Describe and classify plane and solid geometric shapes (e.g., circle, triangle, square, rectangle, sphere, pyramid, cube, rectangular prism) according to the number and shape of faces, edges, and vertices.

Bibliography/Webography

Teachers

Axson, Richard H. The Prints of Ellsworth Kelly: a Catalogue Raisonne, 1949-1985. New York: Hudson Hills Press in association with the American Federation of Arts, 1987.

Garrels, Gary. Sol LeWitt: a Retrospective. San Francisco, CA: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Gray, Donna B. From the Eye of the Camera to the Hand of the Artist. Cincinnati, OH: Betterway Books, 1992. [section titled “Elements of Art and Principles of Design”]

Kellein, Thomas. Donald Judd, 1955-1968. New York: D.A.P., 2002.

Sparkes, Roy. Teaching Art Basics. London: B. T. Batsford; New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1973.

Learning to Look at Art
Learn about the elements of art by looking at famous pieces of artwork. This Web site provides background information on the piece of artwork and descriptions of how each piece is an example of an art element (line, color, texture, shape, form, space, and value). It also includes interactive and printable activities for students.

Foundations in Art, University of Delaware
An introduction to the elements of art that includes images of artwork and concise explanations.

Art Basics, San Diego State University
The seven formal elements of art are described on this Web site.

A Guide to Building Visual Arts Lessons, the J. Paul Getty Museum
This comprehensive Web site includes definitions and examples of art elements, as well as a grade-by-grade guide to creating lessons for the classroom. It also includes several CA-standards aligned lesson plans for each grade level that focus on the elements of art.

Students

Bryant, Meg E. Shape Spotters. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 2002.

Campbell, Kathy Kuhtz. Let’s Draw a Bear with Squares. New York: Rosen/PowerStart Press & Buenas Letras, 2004.

Campbell, Kathy Kuhtz. Let’s Draw a Fish with Triangles (Vamos a dibujar un pez usando triángulos). New York: Rosen/PowerStart Press & Buenas Letras, 2004.

Ehlert, Lois. Color Zoo. New York: HarperFestival, 1997.

Hoban, Tana. Is it Rough? Is it Smooth? Is it Shiny?. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1984.

Klein, Adria. Formas. San Diego: Dominie Press, 1995.

Muehlenhardt, Amy Bailey. Drawing and Learning about Dogs: Using Shapes and Lines. Minneapolis, MN: Picture Window Books, 2004.

Westray, Kathleen. A Color Sampler. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1993.

Yenawine, Phillip. Colors. New York: Museum of Modern Art: Delacorte Press, 1991.


The Artist’s Toolkit: Visual Elements and Principles
Students can “Explore the Toolkit” to learn about and interact with the elements of art and create their own artwork.

Partners


Museum of Photographic Arts
Mingei Museum Timken Museum of Art

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