The Elements and Principles of Visual Arts: Line

We will focus on the elements of art as defined in the California Department of Education frameworks as the sensory components used to create works of art: line, color, shape/form, texture, value, space.  The textbook refers to the elements of art as line, shape, value, space, and texture and pattern.  In addition, the authors discuss the principles of art - balance and symmetry, variety, repetition, emphasis, and domination-subordination. 

California Visual Arts Glossary Definition

  • line. A point moving in space. Line can vary in width, length, curvature, color, or direction.
Textbook Glossary Definition
  • An element of art. The basic skeletal foundation of a design or composition.
  • Description of line 
  • Vary in weight, width, and emphasis
  • May be delicate or bold
  • May be made with freedom and spontaneity or with deliberate action
  • May flow or jerk 
  • Can be thin and light or thick and heavy 
  • May be wavy, fish-scale, jagged, or zigzag 
  • May suggest a personality that is bold, careful, or tentative 
  • Can create outlines, inner edges, paths of motion, decorative patterns

Getty Arts Education Website -

The Getty Arts Education website adds the element of composition.  Read through the Getty Arts resource explaining the elements of art at:

Line - A point moving in space. Line can vary in width, length, curvature, color, or direction.

Color - The visual sensation dependent on the reflection or absorption of light from a given surface. The three characteristics of color are hue, value, and intensity.

Shape/Form - A two-dimensional area or plane that may be open or closed, free-form or geometric. It can be found in nature or is made by humans.

Texture - The surface quality of materials, either actual (tactile) or implied (visual). It is one of the elements of art.

Value - Lightness or darkness of a hue or neutral color. A value scale shows the range of values from black to white.

Space - The emptiness or area between, around, above, below, or contained within objects. Shapes and forms are defined by the space around and within them, just as spaces are defined by the shapes and forms around and within them.

 Getty Arts Webpages


Ideas for Creating a Lesson on Line

YouTube Video

    National Gallery of Art - NGA Kids Art Zone
    Fantastic website with online interactive art activities that the children will love.

    Have Some Fun with Picasso Head!

    The Artist's Toolkit: Elements and Principles of Design

    This is a wonderful informative website that you will want to use throughout this course and you learn about the elements of visual arts and brainstorm art projects that you can use to teach art to children.