Elements of Art: Shape

Contributor: Stefani Allegretti. Lesson ID: 13492

Shapes, shapes, and more shapes! They are all around us and are one of the seven elements of art! In this lesson, you'll learn all about shapes!


Visual Arts

Fine Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio: Image - Button Play
Image - Lession Started Image - Button Start

shape quote

Shape is one of the seven elements of art, and it is super important for artists to understand!

Shapes are all around us in every area of our lives. Because of that, artists use shapes in artwork quite often! In fact, some artworks can't be created without shapes!

Shape is a very necessary element of art.

Explore the different kinds of shape in art as you watch Elements of Art: Shape | KQED Arts from KQED Art School:

Image - Video

Shapes usually fall into one of two categories: organic shapes or geometric shapes.

Organic shapes are shapes that are usually created in the natural world or are irregular shapes. Geometric shapes are shapes that are created by people, often referred to as perfect shapes like circles, squares, and triangles.

Shapes are formed by drawing and connecting lines or by creating blocks of color.

Artists use and capture shape in their artworks in different ways and for different reasons.

For example, an artist might use organic shapes when painting or drawing a landscape of a forest. A forest contains lots of organic shapes, or shapes from the natural world like trees, leaves, and rocks.

Take a look at the many different kinds of organic shapes in this painting:

painting of storybook forest

The artist has painted trees that have roots and trunks as well as flowers and leaves. These are all organic shapes, or shapes found in nature.

Artists also use geometric shapes in artwork quite often, especially in abstract art.

Take a look at this artwork by the famous painter Piet Mondrian, titled Composition A: Composition with Black, Red, Gray, Yellow, and Blue:

Composition A, 1919

Image by Sailko, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

Through the use of line and color, Piet Mondrian has created an abstract artwork that features geometric shapes, specifically squares and rectangles.

Geometric shapes are shapes that are often symmetrical (but not always) and are not created by nature or the natural world. They include circles, squares octagons, rectangles, ovals, triangles, and more!

two dimensional shapes

Geometric shapes are also flat and two-dimensional. However, geometric shapes can be made to appear three-dimensional. Think about a cube or a rectangular prism. These are still geometric shapes, but by drawing them in a certain way, they can appear to be three-dimensional even though they are drawn on a two-dimensional surface, like a piece of paper.

three dimensional objects

Great work learning about shape!

Now, move on to the Got It? section to test your knowledge about this necessary element of art!

Image - Button Next