This “Art Smart” series was created for people like you; people who love learning about art and artists in bite-sized pieces. Using these articles, you can learn together as a family and explore art-related topics and artists with engaging information and useful online resources that are practical and fun! In this first mini-series we are exploring the “Elements of Art”. The elements of art are the "building blocks" of art. This is the vocabulary we use to describe works of art. Last month we talked about “Color”. If you missed seeing that article, you can to view the previously published article and resource links.

This month we will investigate “Value”. Believe it or not, value is as important as color in the design and success of a painting. But what is value exactly? Value is merely the lightness or darkness of any given color. It has to do with the addition of white or black, not with the mixing of colors. Value is an important concept for a painter, photographer or printmaker to understand. Once you grasp the concept of value, the task of using the full range of color tones to create an interesting painting becomes easier and your projects can graduate from one-dimensional drawings to a three-dimensional design.

Here is why:

  • Value is used to create a focal point within a painting or drawing (the eye is drawn immediately to a light element against a dark).


  • To create the illusion of depth, gradations of value are also used. Areas of light and dark give a three-dimensional illusion of form to subject matter.

Additional Learning Resources:

  1. Research has proven that you can learn almost anything when the content is put to music. The educational composers at Scratch Garden make the subject of Value easy to understand and memorable in their video; “Lights... Darks... Action!” These trendy teachers know that whether studying shades, tones or tints, Value is value-able for art, film, photography, and life!   

  1. At the YouTube channel ArtRocks, you can learn how to make your very own Value chart with any color. This excellent step-by-step tutorial will make your student a “Tint and Shade” expert!


  1. Question: What did the triangle say to the circle?

Answer:You’re pointless!

Well, this circular project at “Dean’s Art Class”has a “point” and is fun too! This video gives your student a personal, guided lesson that incorporates all of the above concepts and allows your student the opportunity to show what they have learned when they create a beautiful blue value project. 



  1. Once your student masters the basic concept of Value there are literally thousands of amazing projects for them to do! These Value adventures are just a ‘Click” away when you search the term “K-12 Tints and Shades” on Pinterest ( Don’t have a Pinterest account? Get one, it’s free! All you need is an e-mail address.


Next month we will learn how to convey emotions and messages through art using “texture”. Until then, you can reach me