• Here are some helpful vocabulary definitions:

    Art Grade Six
    reflection & response

    Vocabulary Word Bank

    composition: The arrangement of elements in a work of art. All works of art have an order determined by the artist.

    The elements are; line, shape/form, color, value, texture, & space.


    line: A line is a mark made by a pointed tool; brush, pen, stick, pencil, etc. It is the identifiable path of a moving dot.

    Lines can be expressive because of their variety. They may show softness, calmness, danger or energy for example.

    shape/form: Shapes have two dimensions; height & width. Forms exist in three dimensions; height, width & depth. Forms should be viewed from many angles. Shape and form may be “geometric,” such as circles, squares, triangles, spheres, cubes, pyramids and cones. Shapes and forms may also be “organic,” (free-form or natural) such as cloud-like or leaf-like shapes. Shapes/forms may be realistic, abstract, or non-representational (non-objective).

    Shapes/forms are either positive or negative. The subject in an artwork is usually the positive shape while the space around it is the negative space.

    color: Color is made from light. Color has three characteristics or properties:

    1. hue; or the names of the colors,

    2. value; or the lightness or darkness of a hue, and

    3. intensity; or how bright or dull or pure it is.

    The primary hues are red (magenta), yellow, and blue (cyan).The secondary hues; orange, green, and purple, are made by mixing two primaries. Colors may be warm (reds, yellow, orange) or cool (blue, green, purple); analogous (neighbors on the color wheel); or complementary (opposites). Neutral colors are made by mixing opposites. Color plus white is a tint, color with black is called a shade.

    value: Value refers to darks and lights. Value contrasts help us to see and understand the work of art. Value describes form: value creates a focal point, and value defines space.

    Light values make things feel further away and dark values make them feel closer.

    Some colors are naturally light in value such as yellow and orange. High key paintings are light in value without much contrast. Usually these paintings have a light, happy mood. Some pure colors are dark in value. Dark values without much contrast in a painting are low key. These seem depressing or sad or mysterious in mood. The use of both high and low key colors to create contrast in the same painting often feels dramatic or exciting.

    space: Real space is three dimensional, sculptures occupy real space. Space can also mean the artist's use of the area within the picture plane. The space occupied by the subject of the artwork is called positive space. The space around the subject is called negative space.

    Space in a work of art that is not sculptural refers to a “feeling” of depth or three dimensions. The illusion of three dimensional space in a two dimensional artwork happens when an artist uses the rules of perspective and shading. Overlapping, relative size and atmospheric perspective are other ways artists create space. Foreground, middleground, and background can be manipulated to create the illusion of deep or shallow space.

    texture:Texture is the surface quality of an artwork that we sense through touch. Texture may be actual, or simulated (implied). All objects have a physical texture. Collages and often sculptures emphasize texture.