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The Elements of Art

By Michele Papageorghiou
Age Range: 7 to 11

The list below contains activities which will develop children's knowledge and understanding of the different visual and tactile elements of Art (line, tone, colour, space, shape, pattern and texture):


  • Children can look at an object and draw its outline. Initially they can only observe object draw it without looking at the paper.
  • Next, they can try drawing the object only using a single line without any breaks in it.
  • They could also try using different media (charcoal, fine line pens, pencils)


  • Children can draw an object using black, white and grey pastels (or paint) on coloured paper.
  • Look at black and white photographs to see how tone is used.


  • Using the 3 primary colours (blue, red and yellow), create a chart showing which colours can be made by mixing the colours. Make notes on the chart to explain how each colour was made. Then, look at how colour is affected by the one next to it, e.g. a red looks redder next to a green than it does next to an orange.


  • Look at colour to see how it can give a sense of space. For example, often the sky gets bluer and trees get greener as they recede (colour gradation). Be aware of the size of the paper in relation to the drawing.


  • Look at Dali and see how he has changed the shape of regular objects such as clocks and distorted them, or created another image from the form of another. He also puts obscure objects together in his paintings.
  • Use viewfinders to isolate particular aspects of the subject.


  • Look at William Morris wallpaper.
  • Experiment with repetition of lines, shapes tones or colours.
  • Printing – on paper, cloth or Tee shirts using string patterns on card as stamps.


  • Set up a still life with different textures (e.g. soft fur, shiny metallic tins and rough textured bark). Ask the children to find an equivalent for these surfaces with their mark-making.

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