• ART CONCEPTS

    The following is provided as background information on art concepts volunteers may or may not be familiar with. VTS Strategies as a classroom discussion is truly an effective tool for a successful presentation—no further information needs to be incorporated into the discussion. This is supplementary information for potential enhancement of VTS driven discussions.

    CONCEPTS TO EXPLORE:

    • Line
    • Shape
    • Color
    • Value
    • Form
    • Texture
    • Space
    • Balance
    • Contrast
    • Pattern
    • Rhythm
    • Unity
    • Symmetry
    • Repetition

    Choose one or two concepts that you would like to emphasize in your presentation. What does your particular painting lend itself to? Is your artist a noted colorist? If so, you can emphasize color concepts. What concepts might tie in with an area of the curriculum at the grade level you are presenting to? (Ex. 2nd grade math includes symmetry concepts; Calder's stars let's them explore asymmetrical balance.) What concepts is the art teacher covering at each grade level? How can you dovetail into their lessons?

    Examples of Questioning Techniques when talking about Elements of Art: 

    • Line - A mark that connects two points on a flat surface.
      • Does the artist use lines or shapes in this painting? What kind of lines are there? Bold, thick, strong, dark, delicate, thin, light, curved, straight?
      • Are there many or few lines? Do the lines create movement? Do the lines go in different directions? Is the movement calm, busy, fast or slow?

    • Shape/Form - Shapes are thought of as flat and two dimensional. Form is used to describe something that is three-dimensional.
      • Which shapes are geometric (rectangle, circle, etc.)?
      • Find shapes that have soft/hard edges. 
      • Which forms look round (cylinder or ball), or square (cube) or rectangular (shoebox)?
      • How does the artist show volume? (Use of light and shade/shadowing, etc.)

    • Color - Identify the colors (hue) in the work of art.
      • Primary colors: RED, YELLOW, and BLUE - There are many kinds of red, yellow and blue but the primaries are the purist you can get.
      • Secondary colors: ORANGE, GREEN, AND PURPLE - These colors are made from mixing the two primaries on either side of them on the color wheel.
      • The value of a color is how light or dark it is. Point out tints (light colors: ex. Pink is red and white). Point out shades (dark colors: ex. Dark red is red and black).
      • Discuss the mood of color. How do different colors make you feel? Name the colors that appear warm (red, yellow, orange). Name the colors that appear cool (blue, green, purple). How do warm colors/cool colors make you feel differently? (A fun book to use for younger students to convey this idea of the mood of color is: My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss.)
      • Point out bright colors; dull colors (intensity). Identify colors that jump out; go back. Older students can be introduced to color scheme concepts. For example, Monet used strokes of complementary colors side by side. (Complementary colors are those opposite each other on the color wheel like red and green.) Their use produces a push-pull effect of color. (In Monet's case, gave the work a brilliance of color.

     

    • Texture - A way a surface feels (real texture) or looks to feel (visual texture).
      • Ask students to point out objects that look rough, shiny, smooth, etc. Do you see brush strokes? (Heavy paint strokes known as impasto giving a rough texture to the work).
      • What might the artist have painted with to give various textures? How else does the artist create texture: (through line, shape, or color?)

     

    • Space - Element that gives the work of art depth.
      • Point out flat, two-dimensional space. Point out space that looks three-dimensional. Point out objects that seem close and are in the foreground. Point out objects that are in the middle ground. Point out objects that seem far away and are in the background.
      • To convey the concept of space/depth/dimension, ask students things like: Can you walk into the painting? Would you feel crowed or like you were in a wide open space? Explain that artists use "tricks of illusion" almost like magic tricks to make a flat surface like a canvas seem three-dimensional (like you could walk back into the scene).
      • Examples are:
        • Large objects appear close; small objects appear far away.
        • Diagonal lines pull a person's eye into the painting and give the feeling of depth.
        • All lines converge in a vanishing point.
        • Objects that overlap other objects appear closer.
        • Edges appear clear in the foreground; edges appear hazy in the background.
        • Warm, light color areas appear close; cool, dark, duller colors appear farther away.

     

    • Light - Creates a sense of volume; creates a mood.
      • Point out light areas. How do they make you feel? Point out dark areas and describe your feelings about them. Point out a place where strong light is dramatic for "catching your eye" (a focal point).
      • How can the light an artist is working in affect/change the colors of objects in the painting? (Ex.: At dawn, Monet's haystack takes on a pink color/cast, at noon- a more golden color with the bright sun, and at dusk- a more blue/purple shade.)

    • Balance 
      • Does the position of an object, shape, color or person create balance in the painting? (The artist balances the painting so all the heavy or bright objects aren't in one place. An unbalanced work of art does not pull the eye around the picture; the eye gets stuck in corners or on the side.)
      • Where does your eye go when you look at the picture (focal point)? Why?
      • Symmetrical/formal balance? (If the painting were cut in two down the middle, both sides would be equal/the same.)
      • Asymmetrical or Informal Balance - The sides are not exactly the same because the weight is distributed differently but evenly (in a pleasing manner).

     

    • Pattern/Variety
      • Pattern is made by repeating shapes, color, and lines. What patterns do you see in the work?
      • Variety at the same time, to make the work of art interesting, the artist varies the use of line, color, and shapes.

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