Teaching the Elements of Art: Value

We first began to explore the elements of form and value by sketching a mug. Since we will be exploring value in greater detail in a later class, for this post I will be focusing primarily on how shading emphasizes value.

Our instructor encouraged us to gently hold our pencils for sketching because it opens up the creative side of the brain, while grasping our pencil tightly triggers the side of our brain that focuses on logic. For the sake of this activity we want to let go of our logical knowledge in order to more fully capture what we see. Therefore, rather than drawing the lip of the cup as a circle, we try to capture how it looks from our perspective (an oval).


Below, I’ve contrasted the perspective I had of the mug (left) with the perspective of my classmate, Josie (right). Her perspective shows a strange distorted reflection of the table on the side of her mug, which you can see in her drawing.

For our second value-focused activity, we layered some carbon paper on top of a piece of paper, then taped a printed version of a “selfie” overtop. Then we started to shade in dark sections of our picture using pen or pencil.


The imprint from our pen/pencil impressed our sketch onto the page via the carbon paper.

15008119_10157750059360387_1530638442_o14976306_10157750059415387_1828891767_oThe mentor artist I’ve chosen for value is Leonardo Da Vinci, in particular his works expressing movement.

LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519) A Study for an Equestrian Monument, 1488 (metalpoint on blue paper)

Elements of Art: Shape

We began our exploration of share by arranging some foam stickers into a picture or arrangement on the right side of a paper. Next we coloured those shapes and folded the paper over, so that it stamped the shape onto the other side.


Next, took out another piece of paper and drew our shape onto the left side. Next, we carved into the foam stickers using a pen to create texture. Then we stamped the shape again to see how the texture would change the imprint.


My mentor artist for shape is Gustav Klimt, who uses shape in his background and the clothes of his portrait characters.


Teaching the Elements of Art: Line

We began our lesson on line by discussing how different lines can express different emotions. We tried drawing a variety of lines that expressed emotions like “exuberant, despondent, quizzical, and elated.Then we tried to draw our own version of “the most interesting line” by and then added thickness to certain sections of the line to add dimension.

After this short introductory activity, we started our main project. First we drew some lines on a piece of construction paper with chalk, then we coloured around the chalk lines using oil pastels. Once we were finished, we washed the chalk off the paper, revealing the original colour of the paper. At the end we did a non-judgemental critique to compare what kind of colours our lines inspired us to use.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our instructor also introduced us to zentangles. We used different sized cups to overlap different sized circles on a page. Then we could fill those circles with colours or shapes to make our own unique colouring page. 14787542_10157641398705387_2004525855_o

My mentor artist for “line” is my mother, Karen Goertz. While she has been working as a teacher for at least three decades, during that time she has also pursued her art and been featured in several galleries. Recently, she compiled her “doodles” into an abstract colouring book.

Teaching the Elements of Art: Colour


We began our study of colour by reviewing basic types of colour (Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Monochromatic, and Complementary).

As a tactual learner, I love that our teacher handwrites her handouts.

For our first activity we were asked to represent one of the major colour concepts on a small sheet of paper. I chose to focus on complementary colours. In my first version I used blocks of colour, but they became muddied too easily when I tried to smears them together. For my second version I separated the colours into warm and cool colours. Each colour’s complement was mirrored in the opposite swirl. Afterwards, we brought all of our pieces together for a non-judgmental critique.

The following week, our instructor provided us with plasticine in the primary colours. Then, in groups, we mixed and arranges the plasticine in order to best represent what we had learned about colour relationships.


The mentor artist I chose for the colour element is Francoise Nielly. His use of bright colours to shade his portraits draws the viewer’s eye to various parts of the face and seems to also express the personality of each portrait’s subject.


Teaching the Elements of Art: Texture

Our art instructor has encouraged us to find a mentor artist to refer back to as we explore each of the elements of art. For studying texture I’ve examined two artists who both arrange objects in order to form their own creation; Andy Goldsworthy arranged nature to form his own original pieces, while Bernard Pras uses “trash” to remake classic or well known images (see video below).

In class, we did several texture based exercises. For the first exercise, we walked around the school gathering several crayon rubbings of different textures.

14489634_10157534832105387_55820871_oOnce we had several different textures, our instructor asked us to cut up the textures and arrange them however we wanted to on half of a small piece of paper. We were then asked to attempt to draw our texture arrangement on the other side of the page.


Before we began our next activity, our instructor quickly flipped through The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle to show us how he cuts and arranges his finger paintings into a collaged story. Then, we took our finger paintings from last week and looked for specific shapes and textures in the pages. We then cut out any spots that stood out to us and arranged them on a piece of construction paper (of any size).


While in many ways this activity wasn’t much different from the typical ladybug craft many teachers will do after reading Carle’s work, our instructor prompted us to allow kids to create their own problems, rather than just just giving them a problem and asking them to solve it.