Alberta Logonew LearnAlberta

Fine ArtsVisual Arts

Collapse All

Visual arts enables students to express themselves creatively as they grow in their ability to explore, imagine, and represent their understandings of the world through artworks. Foundational knowledge and understanding of the elements and principles of art supports students in developing visual arts literacy and skills. Through creative processes, students learn that individual and collaborative art making fosters meaningful artistic expression. Creating and presenting artworks allows students to express ideas, feelings, and experiences by using artistic vocabulary, skills, media, and methods. Appreciating, interpreting, and responding to works of art prepares students to understand and appreciate enduring historical, cultural, and contemporary works of art and artists.
More Info
Collapse All
Collapse All
Grade 5
Grade 6
Organizing Idea
Foundational Elements and Principles: Visual arts literacy is developed through knowledge and application of foundational elements and principles.
Guiding Question
How can colour be applied and altered for a purpose in artworks?
Guiding Question
How can organization contribute to artworks?
Learning Outcome
Students analyze colour for its versatility in communicating meaning in artworks.
Learning Outcome
Students investigate organization as a structural component in artworks.
Intensity indicates the purity or strength of a colour.

Colours are usually most intense before they are mixed with others.

A colour can appear more intense by placing it beside a complementary colour.

Mixing a colour with its complement reduces intensity and is known as neutralizing a colour.

When a colour is neutralized it produces neutral colours including brown or grey.

Artists can use intensity within a composition to direct a viewer’s gaze.

In the painting by Pablo Picasso, Le Gourmet, c. 1901, intense colours are used to create a focal point around the child eating.
Colour has the physical property of intensity.

Intensity is the brightness or dullness of a colour.
Skills & Procedures
Mix colours to differentiate between value and intensity.

Apply colours with varying values and intensities to artworks.
When working with different media in art, considerations regarding organization of the elements of art may be required.

Organization of the elements of art can include
  • line—implied line, line weight, value, direction, contour, physical characteristics of line
  • shape and form—proportion, geometric, organic, positive, negative, static, dynamic, physical characteristics, basic, complex
  • colour—tertiary, analogous, monochromatic, complementary, primary, secondary, warm and cool, intensity, gradation, tints and shades, colour accents, transparent and opaque
  • texture—actual and simulated texture
  • space—focal point, illusions, symmetry, perspective
  • value—shading to suggest form or mass, gradation, colour
Media in art can include found objects and materials from the surrounding environment.
Organization is the interaction between the elements of art.
Skills & Procedures
Explore how the elements of art can be employed and organized within various media.

Explore the effects that the elements of art may have on one another when combined in artworks.

Adjust value to suggest an effect of light or shadow.
Colour relationships are described as analogous, monochromatic, primary, secondary, and complementary.

Primary, secondary, and complementary colours can be found on a colour wheel.

Complementary colours are those placed opposite each other on the colour wheel.

Analogous colours are groups of three colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel.

Contrast can be created by placing a secondary colour next to a primary colour.

Tints and shades can be created by adding white or black to a colour, as seen in
  • James McNeill Whistler, Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (also known as Whistler’s Mother), c. 1871
  • Pablo Picasso, The Tragedy, 1903
Warm colours can be found on the red/yellow side of the colour wheel.

Cool colours can be found on the blue/green side of the colour wheel.
There is a relationship between colours, which can be represented on a colour wheel.
Skills & Procedures
Differentiate between warm and cool colours on the colour wheel.

Explore the relationships of colours.

Create artworks using the colour wheel as a tool in choosing a colour palette.
The warm colours on a colour wheel appear opposite cool colours.

Tertiary colours are created when a primary colour is mixed in equal proportions to an adjacent secondary colour.

Analogous colours create a colour scheme that can bring harmony and balance to artworks, as seen in
  • William Trost Richards, Newport Coast, 1902
  • Yisa Akinbolaji, Wisdom Thread, n.d.
Analogous colours can be identified by picking any colour on the colour wheel and adding one colour directly to the right and left of the chosen colour, such as
  • red-orange, orange, and red
  • yellow-green, green, and yellow
  • blue-violet, violet, and blue
  • red-violet, red, and violet
The organization of colour relationships is illustrated on a colour wheel.

The organization of a colour wheel can vary and may indicate colour value and intensity.

The colour wheel can be a planning tool for creating a colour palette.
Skills & Procedures
Use the colour wheel to plan and create artworks.

Differentiate between warm and cool colours on a colour wheel.

Explore and apply the colour combinations used to create tertiary colours.

Identify and employ analogous colour schemes in artworks.
The significance of colour can be reflected in cultural or symbolic associations, as seen in Jane Ash Poitras, Mikisew Spirit, 2019.

Colour value can indicate meaning, including the following:
  • Dark colours can suggest a lack of light and convey a mood of seriousness.
  • Bright colours suggest positive energy and more light.
  • Red can represent anger, danger, or love.
  • Orange can represent creativity or energy.
Local colour captures the likeness of an object.

Expressive colour is used to communicate mood or artistic choice.

Opaque colour blocks light and can be adjusted to suggest heaviness.

Transparent colour lets some wavelengths of light come through and suggests lightness.

Watercolour is the most transparent paint.

A wash can be created by adding water to paint in order to make it more transparent.

Colours such as yellow are naturally more transparent than other colours.

Colours such as red are naturally more opaque than other colours.

Oil, acrylic, and gouache are the most opaque paints.
Colour is a meaningful and expressive element of art.

Colour can be represented and interpreted in a variety of ways.
Skills & Procedures
Examine how colour can communicate meaning or mood in artworks.

Experiment with opaque and transparent colour.

Create artworks using colour symbolically.
Spatial organization can apply to line, shape, space, colour, and value.

Spatial organization of line can include
  • atmospheric perspective
  • linear perspective and one- or two-point perspective to create an illusion of space in two-dimensional works of art
  • horizon lines
  • point of view, including bird’s-eye view and close-ups
Spatial organization of shape can include
  • overlapping shapes
  • placing shapes near horizon lines to give an illusion of depth
  • adjusting size of shapes
Organization regarding space can include
  • positive space, negative space, proportion
  • depth and dimension
  • pictorial space, including foreground, middle ground, background
  • actual space (opened or closed) in three-dimensional objects or the environment
Spatial organization of colour can include
  • cool and dull colours giving the illusion of objects that are far away
  • warm and bright colours giving the illusion of objects that are closer
Spatial organization of value can include
  • light and shadow
  • gradations into light, dark, and mid-tones
The use of space to create illusion and focal points can be seen in Thomas Cole, The Oxbow (also known as View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm), c. 1836.

Techniques such as the following can create illusions of space in artworks:
  • placement of an object on the picture plane
  • overlapping shapes
  • varying size of shapes
  • adjusting value and colour
Spatial organization occupies, activates, or suggests space within an artwork.
Skills & Procedures
Use visual arts vocabulary to discuss how spatial organization is achieved in artworks.

Explore ways that the use of space in artworks can create illusions.

Create artworks that imply spaces beyond the edges of the picture plane.

Explore techniques for activating or suggesting space in artworks.

Consider how spatial organization contributes to perspective in artworks.
Principles of design can be applied to colour to create focus.

Colour can be used to create focus, as seen in Ted Harrison, Visitor from Space, 1988.

Balance in artwork includes symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial.

Radial balance creates an even pattern of image that radiates from a central point, as seen in mandalas.

Warm colours tend to advance a focal point while cool colours tend to recede.

Colour can be combined with line to create a focal point, including
  • converging lines
  • atmospheric perspective
  • linear perspective and one-point perspective to create an illusion of space in two-dimensional works of art
  • horizon lines
Colour draws the eye to focus on a point in the artwork.
Skills & Procedures
Discuss how colour can be used as a focal point or as a means to direct the eye when viewing artworks.

Experiment with how to create focal points in artworks.

Make artistic choices that demonstrate the use of focal points in artworks.

Examine the use of perspective in various artworks.

Incorporate perspective in artworks.
Artistic choices can include
  • communication of symbolic or literal meaning
  • choice of media, tools, techniques, and materials
  • subject matter to be represented
  • use of the elements of art and principles of design
There is an infinite number of ways to organize the elements of art.

Artistic choices can reveal an artist’s style, as seen in Bill Reid, Spirit of Haida Gwaii, c. 1986–1991.
Artistic choice can influence organization in artworks.
Skills & Procedures
Explore and discuss various ways that artworks can be organized to communicate meaning or style.

Make artistic choices in the creation of artworks.
Colour when combined with other elements of art can create illusion, including
  • a sense of depth, contour, or weight by using light and dark shades
  • depth of field and colour value through washes of colour
  • line and space—atmospheric perspective
  • light and depth—colours in the foreground look brighter and more intense than colours in the background
Atmospheric perspective is the illusion of space in landscape paintings, often featuring the use of light colours in the distance, as seen in Albert Bierstadt, Among the Sierra Nevada, California, 1868.

Light and shadow can create the illusion of three-dimensional forms, as seen in Willem Claesz Heda, Banquet Piece with Mince Pie, 1635.
Colour can create illusions in artworks.
Skills & Procedures
Explore how colour can be used to create illusions in artworks.

Adjust colour to suggest an effect of light or shadow.

Adjust colour and value when illustrating the illusion of space and depth in the foreground, middle ground, and background of landscape artworks.
Unity is when all parts of the design work in harmony to create a sense of completeness, as seen in
  • Brian Jungen, Vienna, 2003
  • Prudence Heward, At the Theatre, 1928
Balance is a principle of design that can enhance unity by using
  • pattern and repetition
  • symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial balance
  • colour values and opaque and transparent colour
  • placement of shapes
Radial balance can create a strong focal point and an illusion of movement and depth, as seen in Alex Janvier, Morning Star, 1993.

The principles of design can clarify organization of the elements of art, as seen in Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940.
Organization relies on the principles of design to promote unity in artworks.
Skills & Procedures
Discuss the relationship between balance and unity in artworks.

Use visual arts vocabulary to discuss how artists use balance to create a focal point in artworks.

Use principles of design as a way to organize artistic ideas.
Organizing Idea
Creating and Presenting: Ideas can be represented through artworks that draw upon foundational visual arts knowledge.
Guiding Question
How can narrative in visual arts contribute to understanding diverse stories and experiences?
Guiding Question
How can artistic intention strengthen communication of ideas in visual arts?
Learning Outcome
Students represent narrative in artworks based on a variety of inspirations and through the application of artistic choices.
Learning Outcome
Students express intention as an integral part of artistic expression in visual arts.
The structure of a narrative in artworks can depict a beginning, a problem, and a resolution.

The structure of a narrative told through artworks can be similar to the structure of a narrative in text.

Narrative can be represented individually or collectively.

A variety of media, including digital art, graffiti, and animation, can be used to illustrate a narrative.
A narrative can be structured to describe the past, the present, or the future.
Skills & Procedures
Create two- and three-dimensional works of art based on a narrative.

Create artworks individually and collectively.
Intention can be linked to what media an artist uses.

An artist can communicate intention in artworks by
  • giving artworks a title
  • creating descriptions for art
  • talking about art
Intention can be clear when a plan for creating art is made, including the use of
  • the colour wheel
  • a colour palette
  • a view finder
  • research
  • a grid to divide the work surface into equal ratios for determining proportions
Spatial organization can clarify intention of artworks when line, shape, space, colour, and value are employed.

Organization can include balance of positive forms in relation to negative space.

The way in which artworks are displayed can either detract from or contribute to highlighting the intention of the artist.

Artworks may be interpreted in a way that differs from what the artist intended.
Intention becomes evident to the artist and audience when artworks have structure and organization.
Skills & Procedures
Create a plan for making art.

Explore various ways in which artworks can be shared or displayed.

Incorporate the principles of design to clarify intention.

Evaluate the effectiveness of the media used to convey artistic intention.

Create a title and description for artworks.
Preservation of cultural and historical narratives can be achieved through the creation of artworks and artifacts.

Art movements are those periods in history where artworks were created with a common goal or style and can include the Renaissance, Impressionism, and Cubism.

A narrative in visual arts is represented in diverse ways across cultures.

Narrative can be expressed through the spirit or life of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artworks.

Narrative in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artworks can originate from the land, including
  • wind
  • water
  • soil
  • animals
  • plants
The creation of a narrative can communicate
  • personal experiences
  • stories, legends, myths, and poetry
  • fictional events and characters
  • perspectives
Universal themes that can occur in narratives include survival, redemption, and quest.
A narrative in visual arts can communicate knowledge and understandings about the world.

Narratives can provide connections to culture and history.
Skills & Procedures
Illustrate a narrative based on a variety of events, themes, or inspirations.

Investigate how visual arts have contributed to the preservation of culture in local communities.

Explore how narratives are expressed through First Nations, Métis, or Inuit artworks.

Create artworks inspired by art movements throughout history.
Artworks can be created to intentionally communicate a subject or theme.

An artist can intentionally combine, alter, or omit certain elements of art to create an effect, including
  • illusions of movement, depth, distance, and mass
  • emotion or mood
  • symbolic representations
  • perspective
Mixed media is where various materials and media are intentionally combined within artworks, as seen in Jane Ash Poitras, Prayer Ties My People, 2000.

Analogous colours can be used intentionally to harmonize the colours of a composition.

Art movements throughout history featured artists known for their artistic style or intentional use of media and can include
  • Andy Warhol—pop art
  • Banksy—an anonymous England-based street artist
  • Diego Rivera—established the mural movement in Mexican and international art
  • Frida Kahlo—Mexican painter known for self-portraits
  • Jack Kirby—comic book artist
  • Pablo Picasso—Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, and ceramicist known for the Cubism movement
Appreciating artworks can include
  • citing other artists’ work when borrowing their ideas as inspiration
  • asking for permission to replicate other artists’ work
Intention refers to what an artist means to express.

Intention can be linked to the purposeful creation, expression, or appreciation of artworks.

Artists can intentionally create art that is realistic, symbolic, or abstract.
Skills & Procedures
Make intentional artistic choices to create a desired effect in artworks.

Create two- or three-dimensional artworks in the style of a particular artist or art movement.

Give credit to other artists when using their ideas as an inspiration.

Determine what tools, media, or techniques are required to achieve artistic intention in artworks.

Create artworks that intentionally reflect realistic, symbolic, or abstract representations.

Create artworks with the intention of communicating a subject or a theme.
Artistic choices related to the elements of art and principles of design can be used by an artist to revise and reimagine how a narrative is expressed.

Parts of a narrative in visual arts may be excluded, leaving the audience to assume what happened before and after the narrative was presented.

Titles and descriptions provide additional information about a narrative that can clarify what an artist intends to communicate.

Creative processes can help solve design challenges when creating artworks.
A narrative in visual arts can take the viewer on a journey by entertaining and persuading.

A narrative in visual arts may be perceived by an audience in a way that differs from what the artist intended.
Skills & Procedures
Make artistic choices when revising or reimagining how a narrative can be illustrated.

Evaluate the effectiveness of artistic choices in the communication of a narrative.

Apply creative processes to design challenges.
Intentionally practising art skills and techniques can improve artistic expression.

Art can be intentionally created for enjoyment, creative expression, or as a way to explore new techniques, skills, or media.

Communicating intention can involve taking creative risks and employing creative processes.
An artist’s intention may emphasize process over product.

Some artworks may not have an obvious intention that can be interpreted.

Growth as an artist can occur when one engages with the creative process in new and meaningful ways.
Skills & Procedures
Practise art-making skills, techniques, and methods as a means to strengthen artistic expression.

Create art for enjoyment.

Take creative risks as a means to address design challenges.

Describe how feedback was incorporated to clarify or enhance artistic intention.

Reflect on strengths and areas for growth as an artist.
Organizing Idea
Appreciation: Recognizing beauty, goodness, and truth in visual arts can be developed by understanding the complexity and richness of great artworks, the artists who create them, and the historical and cultural contexts from which they originate.
Guiding Question
How was societal change reflected in visual arts during Colonial Canada, the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation?
Guiding Question
How did societal change influence how visual arts were appreciated during the Enlightenment, French Revolution, and throughout the history of the United States of America?
Learning Outcome
Students investigate how changes in societies of the past have influenced the creation and sharing of artworks.
Learning Outcome
Students relate change to historical events and appreciation of visual arts practices.
The process through which cultural artworks and artifacts are restored to their rightful people or locations is known as repatriation.

Repatriation of ceremonial and spiritual artifacts allows for communities to reconnect with culture.

Repatriation of First Nations and Inuit ceremonial and spiritual artifacts is occurring from museums and personal collections and includes
  • medicine bundles
  • totem poles
  • amulets
  • ceremonial clothing
  • medicine pipes
  • bentwood boxes
  • masks
  • headdresses
  • rattles
  • thunder pipe bundles
First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artworks were influenced by Europeans in a variety of ways, including
  • introduction of glass beads
  • availability of new materials, such as ores not found in North America
  • production of art for aesthetic and economic purposes
Some artists in Colonial Canada were trained by mentors or teachers in the field of art and handicrafts.

In Colonial Canada, some handicraft artists were also considered tradespeople and included
  • blacksmiths
  • candle makers
  • weavers
  • coopers
  • printers
The Catholic Church established a school where arts and handicrafts were taught in early Colonial Canada.
Visual arts has changed over time as communities and cultures have evolved.

Visual arts in Colonial Canada reflected the changes that occurred in Europe at the same time.
Skills & Procedures
View a variety of Canadian artworks as an inspiration for talking about and creating art.

Investigate community acts of repatriation and cultural revitalization.
Appreciation of artworks can inform future decisions regarding participation as an artist and a viewer of art.

Appreciation can shape individual artistry, curiosity, and engagement in visual arts.

Popular (pop) culture evolved from artistic traditions and is appreciated as a form of expression from the people for the people.

Visual culture can be a subject matter or theme that includes ways of seeing and visually representing the world, including animation, digital media, and advertisements.
Appreciation of visual arts can change through active reflection and experience with artworks.
Skills & Procedures
Create artworks that reflect visual and popular culture.

Use visual arts vocabulary when responding to or sharing opinions about artworks.
The Renaissance movement was about all people bettering themselves through education, literature, science, and the arts.

At the beginning of the Renaissance, artists were known as craftsmen; later in the Renaissance, they became known as artists.

The Renaissance was a return to creating art in classical styles, inspired by ancient Greece and Rome; examples of Renaissance art and artists can include
  • Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare, c. 1502
  • Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, c. 1490s, and Mona Lisa, c. 1503
  • Michelangelo, Pietà, c. 1498–1499
  • Raphael (Raffaello Santi), The School of Athens, c. 1508–1511
  • Sandro Botticelli, Adoration of the Magi, c. 1475–1476
The Renaissance art movement featured realism and emotion in artworks by representing light through space and by using shadow and reflection in still-life paintings.

Architectural styles in the Renaissance were borrowed from ancient societies and can include
  • sgraffito—a technique using layers of plaster for wall decor or in ceramics
  • loggia—an architectural feature where the outer wall is open to the outside and sometimes supported by columns or arches
  • arcades—a series of arches supported by columns
Busts, sculptures of a person’s head and torso, and portraiture were popular in the Renaissance and later periods, and can include
  • Donatello, Bust of Niccolò da Uzzano, c. 1430
  • Hans Holbein the Younger, The Ambassadors, c. 1533
  • Raphael, Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, c. 1514–1515
Linear perspective was used by many Renaissance artists and is still used today by artists to show realistic space.

Artwork often depicted religious themes and subjects during the Renaissance.

Artworks in the Protestant Reformation were a rejection of the religious artworks of the Catholic Church.

Protestant Churches were often plain or painted white.

Many northern European artists during the Protestant Reformation focused on the daily, moral life of people and explored these themes through landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and historical paintings.

Religious artworks became less popular and artists began to create more non-religious (secular) artwork during the Protestant Reformation, as seen in
  • Rachel Ruysch, Basket of Flowers, c. 1711
  • Rembrandt, The Night Watch, c. 1642
The invention of the printing press revolutionized the way books and images were created and shared during the Protestant Reformation.

Because of the printing press, artworks during the Protestant Reformation became more available for people to purchase.

In response to the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church prompted the Counter-Reformation (Council of Trent 1545–1563), which encouraged a return to religious artworks, as seen in
  • St Peter’s Basilica, c. 1506–1615
  • Caravaggio, Supper at Emmaus, c. 1601
Visual arts went through significant change during the Renaissance and Protestant Reformation.
Skills & Procedures
Discuss how the artworks of the Renaissance were different from the artworks of the Protestant Reformation.

View a variety of artworks from the Renaissance and Protestant Reformation as an inspiration for talking about and creating art.
The Enlightenment period rejected the previous art movement, Rococo, which was elaborate and extravagant as profiled in the Palace of Versailles, in France.

The Rococo movement was rejected because it featured artworks that did not reflect the lifestyle of the common people.

The neoclassical art movement that emerged during the period of the Enlightenment featured the ideas of freedom, democracy, and reason.

Artworks during this time were also heavily influenced by the discovery of Pompeii, which reignited an interest in ancient Greek and Roman art and architecture.

Neoclassical art emphasized realism through the use of symmetry and carefully organized compositions, as seen in Jacques-Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii, c. 1784.

Neoclassicism reflected the culture of the common people during the French Revolution because it embraced the ideals of freedom and equality.
The way in which the visual arts are understood and appreciated has changed throughout history.
Skills & Procedures
View artworks from the Enlightenment and the French Revolution as an inspiration for talking about and creating art.
Before colonization of the United States of America, the Indigenous people had rich and historical traditions of visual arts that continue to be celebrated today.

As the United States of America became colonized, people brought with them a large and varied tradition of arts and crafts, which became known as folk art.

The American Revolution was based on the ideals of the Enlightenment, and the neoclassical style was reflected in the architecture of the United States during this time, as seen in The White House, in Washington, DC.

American artworks and artists are famous for their contributions to visual culture and modern art, and can include
  • Andy Warhol, pop art
  • Jackson Pollock, abstract expressionism
  • Jacob Lawrence, Harlem Renaissance
  • Mark Rothko, colour field painting
The Harlem Renaissance (1917–1930s) was a rich artistic and cultural art movement in the United States of America.

During the Harlem Renaissance, black artists were free to express black lives and identity for the first time in American history, as seen in
  • Aaron Douglas, The Judgment Day, 1939
  • James Lesesne Wells, Looking Upward, 1928
  • Norman Lewis, Jazz, c. 1938
Visual art traditions existed prior to the colonization of the United States of America and evolved as more people came to the land.
Skills & Procedures
Discuss how the evolution of art in the United States of America was a reflection of culture and historical events.

Create artworks in the style of an American artist.