Art Glossary: Elements of Painting

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Your Citation
Boddy-Evans, Marion. "Art Glossary: Elements of Painting." ThoughtCo, Aug. 20, 2013, Boddy-Evans, Marion. (2013, August 20). Art Glossary: Elements of Painting. Retrieved from Boddy-Evans, Marion. "Art Glossary: Elements of Painting." ThoughtCo. (accessed September 24, 2017).
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