TIP #29: How to Improve Observation Skills Using the Elements of Art & Principles of Design

TIP #29 Improve Observation skills Using the Elements of Art & Principles of Design

In the busyness of life, we are all prone to not noticing things. Kids, as well as adults, can be guilty at times of missing something amazing that’s right in front of us

But we can improve observation skills for everyone using The Elements of Art & Principles of Design.

The Elements of Art

The Elements of Art (affiliate link) are the “building blocks” used to create a work of art. These building blocks are line, shape, form, space, texture, value, and color. Every piece of art utilizes some or all of these elements.

The Principles of Design

The Principles of Design (affiliate link) describe the way artists use the Elements of Art in their work. The Principles of Design are balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, proportion, variety, and unity. A painting might have lines that suggest movement across the canvas or a pattern of shapes and textures.

But the Elements of Art & Principles of Design have value far beyond the world of art. They can also improve our observation skills by helping us know what to be looking for all around us. And they give us a common vocabulary with which to share our discoveries with our students.

Here are 2 ways to improve observation skills using the Elements of Art & Principles of Design…

1. Notice and share 

When something catches your eye, stop and consider why it grabbed your attention. Then tell your students about it. Make note of interesting applications of the Elements of Art & Principles of Design when you see them. Share your observations with your students.

For example, you might point out the shapes of clouds in the sky or the texture of a tree’s bark. Or maybe the pattern on a student’s t-shirt or the emphasis in a logo made you stop and look again. You can find examples of the Elements of Art & Principles of Design everywhere you look.

2. Make a game of it

Try playing games with your students that feature the Elements of Art & Principles of Design. Some of my favorites are my Beachball Scavenger Hunt, this creative Memory Game, or this Scavenger Hunt in a Painting. The more you talk about these concepts, the faster your students will internalize them. 

As we improve our own observation skills, we’ll have more opportunities to share our discoveries with our students. This will help them learn to see like artists and appreciate the visual feast that’s all around them. And we can facilitate this process by using the vocabulary from the Elements of Art & Principles of Design.

an inspiring quote

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”  ~ Henri Matisse

Seeing things that bring us joy is easiest when we look for them and expect to find them. When we make a conscious effort to look, we can find beauty and wonder all around us. Both kids and adults can benefit from seeing the world with this kind of intention!

a question worth considering

What are your students not noticing that you could help them appreciate?