Art Concepts:

For those that donít know art

Studying for the Art portion of Superquiz but have no concept of art???? This is the page for you!




The spectrum . The spectrum are the different forms of radiation that travel all around us. Of the various forms of radiation, only visible light gives off colors that can be seen by the human eye. Color is the result of a reflection or absorption of light rays by a given surface. Sunlight passing through a glass prism forms a series of brilliant colors called the spectrum.



Is the name used to designate a color.

Primary colors: In pigment (like paints and inks), there are three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. These cannot be made by mixing but can be combined to form other colors.

Secondary colors: created by blending two primaries. Examples are orange, green, and violet.

Triary colors: are a three color blend, such as green +blue + yellow = green-blue.

Intermediate colors: are when two neighboring colors are mixed, such as yellow-green, blue-green.

Neutrals: white, grays, and black.


Color Harmonies:

The relationship is the basis of all color harmony. When colors are combined so that they have the effect of pleasing the eye, they are spoken of as harmonies. There are various ways of combining colors to achieve harmonious effects.

Complementary colors: the use of colors opposite to each other on a color wheel. Some examples are: blue-orange, red-green, violet-yellow.

Monochromatic harmony: the use of one hue in different values and intensities. If you add white to a color you change its tint, and if you add black you add shade to it.

Analogous or neighboring color: the use of a group of neighboring colors adjacent on a color wheel, such as blue violet, blue green, usually using 3-4 colors.


How to use color:

Color relationships determine their harmony. In a fine color arrangement, proper consideration should be given to contrast and dominance.

Colors of light value (tints) must be contrasted with those of dark values (shades) to assure better visibility.

Light colors will appear lighter when adjacent to a dark color, and vice versa.

Small areas of intense color are enhanced by large areas of grayed or muted color; and large areas of grayed colors are relieved with bright colors.


Color Values: the lightness or darkness of a color.

Tints: Values that are lighter than middle value. Tempera tints are made by adding a little color to white. Watercolor tints are made by adding more water to color.

Shades: Values darker than middle value. Tempera and watercolor shades are made by adding a little black to colors.

Intensity: The brightness or dullness of a color. (chroma)

Bright color: pure color at full intensity.

Dull color: A color grayed through the addition of some of its complement(opposites on the color wheel). For example, to dull blue, add its opposite, some orange.


Mood colors:

We use art to create a mood of the person viewing the art.

Cool colors: Colors with a predominance of blue. Recede

Warm colors: colors with a predominance of yellow and red. Advance the objects in a painting.



Is the simplest element of art. It is a series of connected dots that can continue to infinity. A line segment, however, has a beginning and an end. Lines have the ability to change direction, with the three major directions being horizontal, vertical, diagonal. Line is the element of movement or direction (delineation).

It may be a mark made by the point of a crayon, pencil, brush, or other object in motion. A line may also be the edge of a shape, or the divider between one shape and another. Line directs the eye through a picture. Lines have quality. They may be: thick, thin, textured, blurred, sketchy, scribbled, delicate, bold, etcÖ

A line can also be the beginning of a drawing. It can be continuous or broken, such as gesture, or contour. Lines define form by a). outline lines go around the outside edge of an object. Line qualities can be used symbolically to create feeling for example, horizontal, bold lines suggest peace, while zig-zag lines create a feeling of excitement.

Enhancing lines give more detail or create a three-dimensional effect are called enhancing lines. These are used for shading or giving depth to an object.



a).Light source: The direction from which the light comes in the pictures.

b). Highlight: The place on the object that is exposed fully to the light source-where the light hits the object directly.

c). Halftone: The soft edge of the light where it meets shadow, or a gradual transition from light to dark.

d). Shadow: The dark area on an artwork where the light is blocked out, just like your own shadow.

e). Reflected light: The lightened area in a shadow created by light bouncing off another object. This causes portions of the shadow to be lightened slightly.



Form and Space (composition):

Form and space are interrelated elements. Form is the shape of volume or mass.

Space is the distance between or around shapes and masses.

Space is a volume available for occupation by a form; an extent, measurable or infinite, that can be understood as an area or distance, one capable of being used negatively or positively.

Negative-background space around objects

Positive- objects on a negative field.

Mass: The actual or implied physical bulk, weight, and density of three dimensional forms occupying real or suggested spatial depth.

Horizon Line: is at the viewer's level, where the sky and ground in the picture seem to meet. Usually the horizon line is off the center to avoid cutting the picture in half.

The background: objects or shapes that appear in the distance. These objects enhance the picture but are not the main focus of attention.

Proportion: The relationship of size, colors, and shapes to each other.



A two dimensional area or plane that may be organic or inorganic, free-form or geometric, open or closed, natural, or of human origin. Types of shapes:

a). Geometric: Basic mathematical shapes, such as squares, and triangles. These shapes can be flat, or three dimensional.

b). Free form: Forms that have no distinct or definite shape. These can be creative, irregularly shaped, and free flowing.

c). Contour: The basic outline or edge of any given object.

d). Positive shapes are those that are the main focus of the picture. Negative shapes are those that are less noticeable. Both are necessary to complete a picture.

There are three rules to drawing shapes:

  1. Draw large shapes first, then draw the smaller, detailed shapes.
  2. 2. Use shadows, highlights, and reflections to enhance the shapes in a picture.
  3. Add texture and shading to show form. In an artwork, form refers to the three-dimensional characteristics of an object.



The surface quality of any material is texture. Textural qualities may be seen as well as felt. Textures can be rough, smooth, shiny, dull, rough, soft, etc.

Texture is achieved by:

a). repetition: create a pattern in an artwork by repeating a line or a shape. The pattern becomes a textural effect.

b). spattering: spattering paint on an artwork with a toothbrush, paintbrush, or spray can, you can add specks or dots, which can become shapes.

c). rubbing: pace the artwork on a textured surface, such as a large rock. Using a pencil or crayon, rub over the paper until you have created the rock's surface on the paper.

d). daubing: using a sponge or wad of paper soaked with paint, spot a piece of paper or an object, creating a painted effect.

Dominance and Subordination:

Refers to the need for a dominant idea, plan or purpose. Emphasis or center of interest may be gained through dominance and subordination of size, shape, color, texture, contrast, light and dark.



Refers to the relationship of pace division. Equal amounts are sometimes monotonous; too much variety may be confusing.


Is the creation of movement from one area to another bye the use of the art elements. Transition is the reverse of opposition.


Is the arrangement of the art elements in repetition to achieve a harmonious result. It also suggests motion by recurrent forms. It is the easy path of lines, forms, or colors along which the viewer's eye travels as he or she looks at the artwork. Some examples of rhythm are repetition, procession of sizes from small to large or vice versa, continuous line movement, alternating lines, and from thin to thick.


Is the repeated use of the art elements to produce rhythm and pattern in design. A picture has unity if all elements are in harmony, if not the picture is in a state of confusion.


Refers to the use of a diversity of materials and techniques in an artwork. This is necessary in order for the design to be interesting.


Is the point of the viewer's focus. The emphasis is determined by the size, color value, and dominance of an object or shape in the artwork.


The differences of color shapes, and textures within an artwork. The edge where dark and light meet creates the contour of the shape in the work.


Is a sense of visual equilibrium. A large form may be balanced by placing a small form in relation to it. Balance may also be obtained through the distribution of color and dark and light. If there's symmetrical balance, an artist achieves symmetry in a work when any object or picture appears to be the same on each side of its center. An asymmetrical arrangement has two sides that are not exactly alike but the overall effect is one of balance. In radial balance, the elements of art branch out in all directions from a common point.


Refers to the use of the art elements in contrast. Opposition is created by the contrast of value, hue, or intensity.


Is the organization of materials using art elements and principles.

Design is 3-D as well as 2-D. It includes the whole shape and appearance of an object, such as a ship, airplane, automobile, or building. It may also be decorative, as in wallpaper or fabric.

Design should not conceal or distort the basic form, but it should relate to the form and its function. In painting, design is synonymous with composition and uses the elements and principles to establish harmonious relationships.

 Theme and variation: Some dominant feature repeated with variations to give the work its dominant character.


The distinguishable units or elements that seem to belong to each other so that each contributes something to the functioning of the whole.


The manner in which a picture is put together. Is the style realistic, meaning that the picture paints the world as it actually appears? Or is it abstract, meaning that the picture works as a design but is not true to life?


The technique for making a flat, or one-dimensional picture appear to have depth.

a). High-low: objects that are lower in the picture appear closer to the viewer, while objects that are high appear further away.

b). Large-small: Large objects appear closer to the viewer, but small objects appear further away.

c). Overlapping: creates the illusion of depth. Those in front are closer than those in back.

d). Dark-light: dark objects appear closer while light objects appear further away.

e). Detail: When you move away from an object, you can see less of its detail.

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