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Understanding Art

Understanding Art
A Guide for Teachers

First Edition

Other Titles in:
Art | Music/Fine Arts/Drama

184 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

In any area of the curriculum, children need to learn concepts, facts, and skills through first-hand experience. In art, such learning depends on exploring and experimenting with the visual language through which artists communicate, and the visual elements such as line, color, and shape.

This book systematically explores the basic knowledge needed to do this effectively. The author deals with the visual elements of art, their properties, how they are related, and especially the ways in which children's knowledge of each can be developed through simple but creative activities. Each element is placed in context, with extensive cross-referencing. The author shows how these elements can be observed in the children's environment and provides examples of how they have been used in works of art and craft.

Contents include:

  • Art as exploration
  • Point
  • Line
  • Tone
  • Mixing and controlling color
  • Perceiving and observing color
  • Responding to color
  • Shape
  • Space
  • Form
  • Texture
  • Pattern

This accessible book does not assume any specialist knowledge or experience. It is essential for teachers at primary and secondary levels, art coordinators, and for undergraduate and postgraduate level students of art education.

Investigating, Making and Responding to Art
Visual Language and The Visual Elements
Learning Through Investigation of the Visual Elements
Building on the Foundations
The Concept of Point
Investigating Points and their Potential
Point In Context
The Concept of Line
Investigating Line
Some Starting-Points

Developing Line
Line in Context
The Concept of Tone
Investigating Tone
The Perception of Tone
Tone in Context
The Concept of Colour
Colour Mixing
Tints and Shades
Optical Colour Mixing
Colour Range and Mixing in Context
Colour Constancy and Colour Interaction
Finding, Matching and Mixing Colours
Perceiving Colour in Context
Responses to Individual Colours
Colour Groupings and Responses to Them
Colour Responses in Context
The Concept of Shape
Interaction of Shapes
Investigations of Shape
Shape in Context
The Concept of Space
Objective Space
Figure and Ground

Illusory Space
Objective Space in Context
Illusory Space in Context
The Concept of Form
The Visual Properties of Form
Investigating Form
Moving into the Third Dimension

Form in Context
The Concept of Texture
Tactile Texture
Visual Texture
Texture in Context
Concepts of Visual Pattern
Rotating and Linear Patterns
Investigations of Surface Pattern
Space-Dividing Patterns
Pattern in Context

This is a great starter to give teachers the confidence t get creative in the classroom. It's full of practical ideas which our students can take straight into the classroom.

Mrs Kaytie Holdstock
Education, Worcester University
April 22, 2021

The book contains some useful information and tools to share with students regarding formal elements. I have adopted this book for the programme of study and adapt resource to suit post 16 education. The only bother I had was the use of the word children when referring to students as this is not applicable to the level I teach.

Mrs Ruth Crabtree
Vocational Education, North Lindsey College
October 4, 2018

Short sharp chapters, straight to the point. Need-to-know reference textbook

Miss Hanna Storey
Sport and Public Services, NEW College Pontefract
May 27, 2016

This is a useful text which supports our teaching of Y1 BA students with their subject knowledge. We refer particularly to the sections on line, on colour and on form. Useful discussion about space and ideas about sculpture in space which can be shared with children.

Mrs Kate Yeoman
Department of Primary Education, Canterbury Christ Church University
June 17, 2014

beautifully designed introduction to the basic analytical concepts of visual art appreciation

Mr Uwe Rasch
n/a, Academy of Fine Arts Münster
November 22, 2013

This is an excellent book which I recommend to all Art Teachers. The author manages to relay the fundamentals of Art through great emphasis on experimentation and simple terminology.

I recommend it to all Art teachers!

Mr Stephen Vella
Institute of Art and Design, Malta College of Arts, Science & Techn
November 11, 2013

A very accessible book, well structured and gives confidence to ITE students (Primary PGCE) when they are unsure of their artistic abilities. I recommend this book to students and would recommend a copy to be placed in schools.

Ms Jane Noble
Early years and primary, Institute of Education
July 16, 2013

Clear, concise and very informative. A good general guide for any teacher undertaking the teaching of art, particularly a non- specialist primary classroom practitioner. I like the image plates and step by step instructions.. I have put this on the book list for all the art modules

Ms Caroline Corker
Department of Education, St Mary's University College
March 29, 2011

This is a very informative book which is highly readable with much content which may interest some of our trainees. I shall therefore draw their attention to it during the art course

Mrs Lorna Hill
Primary PGCE, University of Birmingham
September 14, 2010

This text contains a wealth of information in an accessible format. Helpful illustrations are included throughout and key terms are defined and explored in detail. It would make a very useful reference book for PGCE students, both in helping with lesson planning and also in writing assignments about primary and secondary art education.

Dr Emese Hall
Graduate School of Education, Exeter University
May 18, 2010

Martin W Wenham

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