Monday, July 1, 2013

Abstract Art With Shapes

This is a project that we did a few years ago based on an exercise in Mona Brookes' book, Drawing With Children.    The exercise was similar to this art project

I found this similar idea in a google search just now.  Interesting how different people can come up with identical ideas.  The exact inspiration for me likely came from several sources.

The directions are simple.  Draw a variety of shapes using the technique of overlapping.  I distinguish between three types of shapes:  Geometric; Organic (that found in nature); and Free-form.  Some students needed to be "encouraged" to add more shapes to their pictures to balance them out.  When the drawing (done in pencil) is done, it can be outlined in a black marker.  If you're brave, have students just draw in a permanent black marker as it saves a step. 

You can use any kind of color scheme you'd like (for example warm colors for shapes and a cool color background).  Or just let the kids decide.  One rule I had was that they had to use a variety of colors and that two connecting shapes could not be the same color.  Each section of the shapes had to be colored in different colors.  (see the examples to get an idea). 

For coloring we used markers and I teach my students to treat the marker like it's a paint brush.  The tip of the marker is like the tip of a brush.  You can make thick and thin lines depending on how you hold the marker.

All lines in a given area are to follow the same direction.  That means that each section is treated like a canvas unto itself.  Circle and oval shapes can have circular lines but straight line shapes must have straight marker lines (and they must all follow the same direction.  Students may first outline the shape but then all subsequent lines must have the same direction.  The outlining helps students to keep withing the boundaries of the shape.  I have my students point their marker tips toward the black border line when outlining the shape. 

The marker lines in the background should all follow the same direction.  Either left to right or top to bottom or diagonal.  One line is colored at a time and then the next line is added.  I don't allow students to use their markers like crayons (using a back and forth movement). 

I think the effect is rather nice.  Look closely at the lines in each example.  You'll see what I mean.  If this doesn't make sense, please let me know.  I'll try to clarify. 

However, you will likely see where some students didn't exactly follow the "rules" above.  You can decide for yourself if this matters.  Let me know what you think.  It's a great lesson for teaching color theory, balance, overlapping, and technique.


  1. Yes yes. There is also one possible sollution - doodling. You get eyes, hands or noses and you draw the rest. It sort of activate your hemisphere into problem solving. I saw you can buy it as U-Doodlezz on The Artwork Factory - U-Doodlezz.

  2. This is my first attempt at bogging, so please excuse my ignorance of the process! I actually have a question for any art experts out there. My entire family has always been academically focused on math and science. I have two boys who have been identified as gifted, with no learning difficulties. They both excel in math and science, and although quite creative, have never expressed a desire to cultivate any artistic gifts they may have. Then, along comes my daughter - all she's interested in is drawing, painting, creating clay creatures, singing and otherwise making music. She's uninterested in the traditional school subjects, and has a few behavior issues because of her distaste and boredom with such. She attends a very small traditional-curriculum school, and although her Art teacher has told me that she's artistically gifted, her teacher is not an art professional, but rather a BSN who loves art. My question is - are there any tests out there that will assess her abilities instead of just her creativity (Torrance)? If so, what are they and to whom should I take her to have her assessed? Thanks.

  3. Art is a great activity for kids imaginations. Kids love forming their own shapes,size etc.....
    Art by kids