Artistic elements Overview

In this learning pathway, you will begin to learn the “language of art” through a structured approach to terms and examples used to describe and analyze any work of art. The basis of this language is the artistic elements–the irreducible and abstract ingredients that generate creative form.

Just as spoken language is based on fundamental letters, sounds and grammar, visual art is based on elements and principles that, when used together, create works that communicate ideas and meaning to the viewer. We can refer to them as the building blocks of composition in visual art. A composition is the organized layout of an image or object according to the rules of design. The best way to understand the elements and principles is to study them within a variety of works of art.

Topics in this learning pathway are the following artistic elements:



Upon successful completion of this learning pathway, you should be able to:

  • Define and describe artistic elements.
  • Translate a realistic artwork into an abstract composition.
  • Discuss compositional constructs and their effectiveness in the artistic process.
  • Using the language of art, compare and contrast artworks from disparate cultures.