There are many so-called art elements one can see in a painting. You can analyze a work of art by considering a variety of aspects of it individually. These aspects are often called the elements of art. The most commonly used list includes seven elements.  A description of each follows below. This post is about just giving a novice the tools that are required to be able to visually judge what goes on in a painting.

The 7 art elements

Form, shape, line, color, value, space and texture.


You can see a line as one of the basic art elements defined by a point moving in space. This can be two or three-dimensional, descriptive, implied, or abstract. And the line has a width, direction, and length.


In a painting, you can also identify shapes two-dimensional, flat, or limited to height and width.


The most prevalent of the art elements is form. These are three-dimensional elements that enclose volume. And they include height, width, and depth. For example a cube, a sphere, a pyramid, or a cylinder. In some paintings, you can see that these forms can be free flowing.


The lightness or darkness of tones or colors where white is the lightest value and black is the darkest. The halfway value is middle gray.


An element of art by which positive and negative areas are defined or a sense of depth achieved in a work of art. Space is an area that an artist provides for a particular purpose. Space includes the background, foreground and middle ground, and refers to the distances or area(s) around, between, and within things. There are two kinds of space:Negative space” is the area in between, around, through or within an object. “Positive spaces” are the areas that are occupied by an object and/or form.


One very important art element is color. Color in paintings is defined by the following properties:

Hue: name of color

Value: hue’s lightness and darkness (a color’s value changes when white or black is added)

Intensity: quality of brightness and purity (high intensity = color is strong and bright; low intensity = color is faint and dull)


This is another art element that refers to the way things feel or look as if they might feel if touched.

Suggested reading

Art 101:Definitions  Symbols in Renaissance art