What is Visual Arts?

The definition of visual arts is works made to be appreciated by the eye that require skill and imagination to create. The visual arts include painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, photography, digital art, graphic design, and handcrafts made by skilled craftspeople.

The three main visual arts categories are fine art, decorative, and commercial. Fine art is created for itself. It is meant to be looked at and designed to convey an idea or have the viewer experience an emotion. Painting, drawing, and sculpture are most commonly thought of when one considers fine art. Decorative art is designed not only to be visually appealing but also to serve a function. Decorative art can also be called craft. For example, textile art, including fashion and quilts, would fall in this category. Commercial art is used in marketing to help sell products or to promote companies or causes. Commercial art includes magazine ads and propaganda posters.

Visual art can also divide into representational, abstract, and non-objective art. As the name suggests, representational art includes depictions of easily recognized items. For example, a still-life painting of a vase of flowers would be representational. Abstract art distorts reality in some way. Depictions may be broken down into simple shapes or distorted to emphasize some feature. Non-objective art is not meant to have any basis in depicting actual objects.

Art history is the study of visual art from the prehistoric era until today. Art groups into periods based on the time of its construction and the style of the work. Some periods include Classical, Romanesque, Gothic, Rococo, Neoclassical, Impressionism, and more.

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Visual Arts Topics

Art Movements & Styles

Learn about different art styles and art movements, from Renaissance to Impressionism to the 20th century, and see breakdowns of different art history periods.

Art Techniques

Learn about accounting records. Identify the role of accounting records and examine the different types of accounting records, such as income statements.


Learn the definition of drawing in art and understand how it is used. Explore the history of drawing and discover the different types of drawing techniques in art.

Elements of Art

Learn the 7 elements of art and their definitions: line, shape, space, value, form, texture and color. See elements of art examples and learn tips for effective use.

Famous Artists

Study the most western famous artists of all time. Learn the names of famous artists from different periods of art history and see examples of famous masterpieces.


Learn all about painting. Study the painting definition, the forms of painting, and the art forms in painting. Learn the history of painting, and learn about the most famous painters.


Explore various types of photography styles in this lesson. Learn all about different photography techniques and the most popular types of photography.


Learn the history of printmaking. Read about types, examples and materials of printmaking: woodblock and intaglio printmaking, lithography and screen printing.


Learn all about sculptures and what a sculpture is. Discover the meaning of the term, see the elements and types of sculptures, and learn about famous sculptors.

Visual Arts Resources

Explore the world of visual arts with the many resources Study.com offers. These courses and lesson plans meet the needs of learners from preschool through college. Students can learn about famous visual artists and categories of art, study the history and development of visual arts, experience various methods, and see many examples of visual elements of art. Whether students are interested in exploring these classes independently or teachers are searching for ways to enhance their current courses, these resources provide engaging and informative content.

Visual Arts Courses

Dive into the world of creative visual design art with these courses in art history and textile arts. Explore pictorial arts and artists from the prehistoric period through the modern era. Learn about various fine art periods and the foremost visual artists who defined them. Explore textile arts, clothing creation, and the history of fashion.

Visual Arts Test Prep for Teachers and Students

Visual Arts Test Prep

Prepare for important visual arts and history tests by reviewing various art types and significant visual artists using Study.com's test prep materials. Students seeking college credit can study for the DSST Art of the Western World exam. Prospective teachers can prepare for the TExES Core Subjects EC-6 or Praxis Art exams. Test-takers who complete these review materials will feel confident as they approach these significant tests.


For teachers and parents

Visual Arts Lesson Plans for Teachers

Help students study the visual type of art with these engaging lesson plans. Whether teachers are searching for a single lesson plan to help spice up a class or a complete set of plans to create an entire course, many options are available. There are lessons designed for preschool students through high school. Whatever their need, teachers can find lessons that meet curriculum goals while keeping students interested and learning.

Lesson plans
  • Art Lesson Plans & Projects

    Introduce students to the world of visual arts with these lesson plans. Provide students with ways to create many types of visual arts, including fiber arts, photography, graphic design, sculpture, drawing, mosaics, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is visual art? What are some examples of visual art?

    Visual art is the art that is seen, which means to evoke an emotion or convey an idea. Examples include painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, digital art, graphic design, fiber art, and skilled handcrafts.

  • What are the three types of visual art?

    The three types of visual art are fine art, decorative, and commercial. Fine art is created purely for aesthetic purposes and has no other function. Decorative art is also known as a craft. These art pieces also serve a function and are made by skilled craftspeople. Commercial art is art used to market a product or communicate a message.