To begin the artmaking activity, students should brainstorm a list of organic shapes. Once they have chosen a shape to create, they should draw the shape on cardboard, then cut out the shape to create a stencil. Before they begin duplicating their shape, students should decide what complementary color set they will use in their artwork. You could have a refresher discussion about complementary colors before students begin creating their artwork.
Students should trace their stencil four times on a single piece of construction paper in one of their complementary colors. (The size of the cardboard stencil will determine the scale of the students’ artwork.) They will then cut out their shapes.
Taking the original stencil, students should retrace their shape onto another piece of cardboard, only making the shape slightly larger by outlining it farther away from the original border. Once students have created their larger shape, they should cut it out and use it as another stencil. With another sheet of construction paper (the other complementary color), students should trace their larger stencil four times, then cut out the shapes.
With each smaller shape in the center of each larger shape, the students should glue their two shapes together. Students should now have four sets of complementary color shapes. Set the shapes aside when preparing the background of their final product.
Pass out four square pieces of white construction paper to students. Using rulers, demonstrate how students can find the centers of their squares by measuring the length and width of their squares. Students can lightly draw a small dot to mark the center of each square. This will guide students as to where they should place their organic shapes. Once students have measured, instruct them to glue their shapes into the centers the squares. To finish the project, glue the squares onto a 12 x 12–inch sheet of construction paper in a grid layout.
To prepare their painting paper, students should begin by drawing diagonal lines connecting opposite corners of their paper, creating a large “X” across the entire sheet. Students should then measure the length and width of their paper to find the center of each side, then, from these points, lightly draw vertical and horizontal lines to mark the center of their work. This will set up four smaller areas on the base of their grid with one diagonal line in each square. Students should draw an additional diagonal line in each box to create an “X” in each box. The “X” will serve as a guide when students are tracing their shapes onto their paper. Have students align their stencil in the middle of one box on their paper.
When tracing, instruct students to mark the spots on their stencil that hit any diagonal lines. This will enable students to align their stencil centrally in each box. Also instruct students to point their stencil toward the center of the paper before they begin tracing. Once students have drawn their shapes in each box, they can erase their horizontal, vertical, and small “X” lines, keeping the initial diagonal lines on their paper.
Students should begin painting the shapes on their paper using one of their chosen complementary colors. Remind students to evenly distribute their paint for a smooth application. Once students have painted the shapes, refer to Feeley’s use of outline in Assellus, 1964. Using the other complementary color, students should outline their shapes. With one outline done, students should take their original paint color and re-outline the shapes. This should be done once more with the second color.
For the remainder of the background, students have the option of painting the entire space one color or they can cut out their shapes, glue them onto different pieces of 6 x 6–inch construction paper, and glue the squares onto a new sheet of paper.
When tracing shapes, it is helpful to instruct younger students to draw a light “X” in the middle of each traced shape. This side of the shape will contain pencil lines. The “X” can remind students that they do not want the pencil-lined side of their shape to show on their final product. You can remind students to apply their glue to the “X” side of each of their shapes.
This lesson can be tailored to focus on the organic shapes found in nature in relation to the seasons. You can make a science-based connection by using symbols of the seasons such as snowflakes for winter, acorns for fall, or rain drops for spring. By using these symbols as shapes, the artwork can be used to illustrate seasonal changes.
For an advanced lesson, try adding additional shapes to the grid areas.