If we define art education as the process for cultivating abilities for comprehending and utilizing the language of art, we need to identify the constituents of this language.
The tools and materials utilized to produce visual qualities are a major component. If one is to make expressive visual statements that communicate meanings to others, some knowledge of how to use these media is required. If students are asked to use crayons or oil pastels, for instance, they should have opportunities to investigate the characteristics of these drawing media; e.g. learning how to use the point and side, how to apply more or less pressure to vary values and intensity, and how to mix and blend colors utilizing surface textures.
Examples of other technical skills include: stippling, hatching and cross hatching with pencil, pen, crayon or brush; folding, scoring, perforating, shredding, curling, and cutting paper; producing washes of flat and graduated color, and under painting, glazing, and scumbling with paint; and pounding, pinching, rolling, texturing, wheel-throwing, glazing, and firing clay.
A key pedagogical principle is that whenever students are asked to utilize particular media, students should have opportunities to acquire some measure of control over these media through their own explorations and/or via instructor demonstrations. Learning about the assets and limitations of media is a first step toward enabling media to function as the basic vocabulary for artistic expression. It is not sufficient, however, only to be able to produce "words." Grammatical skills - putting words together to generate meaning - are also required. These are the skills needed to represent and interpret what one experiences, which also requires learning how to see in distinctive ways.