Art Glossary: Elements of Painting

Elements of Painting or Art
The elements are the different parts that together create an artwork. Photo © D-BASE / Getty Images


The elements of painting are the basic components or building blocks of a painting (and art generally). In Western art they are generally considered to be:

  • Color
  • Tone (or value)
  • Line (a narrow mark made by a brush, or a line created where two things meet)
  • Shape (2D, can be positive or negative) and Form (3D)
  • Space (or volume)
  • Texture (or pattern)
Sometimes these elements are also added to the list:
  • Composition
  • Direction (vertical, horizontal, angled)
  • Size
  • Time and movement (how the viewer perceives and looks at the painting)

More Explanations:
Getty Museum: The Elements of Art
• Art History: Elements of Art