By Carla C. Kirkland, Chan Cleveland

Some questions on the Praxis Elementary Education exam will test you on different principles of art, from the aesthetics of art to legal ownership and copyright.

For example, one painting may thrill some viewers while offending others; one artist may receive funding while another does not. These responses and choices are part of a culture’s aesthetics, how people characterize what is beautiful or in good taste, both emotionally and intellectually. Aesthetics can be individual, varying within a culture, as well as cultural, varying among cultures.

Teachers may begin a discussion involving aesthetics by displaying two works of art that vary, for example, in balance—one being balanced and the other not. Ask students how each work makes them feel. Then lead students in a discussion of each work’s elements and design, and how the choices each artist made affect the viewer. Ask students to consider why the artists made those choices.

Finally, it’s important for students to understand that while a work of art may be shared and enjoyed by many, it belongs to its creator. Having students create their own artwork will help them understand the importance of respecting and protecting others’ creativity. Older students will learn the legal aspects of copyright, but elementary students can and should learn about copyright as a basic concept.

Practice question

  1. A third-grade teacher’s students are working in groups, talking about which of two paintings they like better and how the colors in one painting make them feel really different than the colors in the other painting. Which set of colors are the students probably studying?
    A. complementary colors
    B. analogous colors
    C. colors of two different values, one of which is a tint of the other
    D. colors of two different values, one of which is a shade of the other

Answer and explanation

  1. The correct answer is Choice (A).
    Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel and so are likely to have opposite effects, such as the cool effect of blue and the warm effect of orange. Choice (B) involves three colors next to each other on the color wheel; thus, they do not create a different effect but a unified, similar, or calming effect. Choice (C) describes two closely related colors, one of which is the other with white added, such as green and light green; these colors create a similar effect. Choice (D) describes two closely related colors, one of which is the other with black added, such as green and dark green; these colors create a similar effect.