Students will learn about organic shapes as they discover how line, shape, and color are used to create art.
This lesson is part of our Elements of Art unit.
Students have an understanding of the ways line, shape, and color are used to create art. In this lesson they are learning the difference between geometric and organic shapes in the world. Geometric shapes are the basic shapes that have names like circle and square. Organic shapes are free form, one of a kind original shapes mostly found in nature.
Alexander Calder, “Glacier with Coloured Petals” 1971
Alexander Calder (called Sandy by all who knew him) was born in 1898 in Lawton Pennsylvania, now a part of Philadelphia. His great grandfather and his father were sculptors, and his mother was a painter. He and his sister Peggy, who was two years older, were very close and used to play with all the games, toys and gadgets that Alexander made, as young as the age of 5.
Sandy graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Then he studied at the Arts Student League in New York. He married a woman by the name of Louisa and had two children, living both in France in Connecticut. He died in 1976.
Throughout his life, Sandy like to play with things and made thousands of objects. Games, toys, jewelry, sculptures, drawings, paintings, movie sets and costumes and of course, that for which he is most famous, his mobiles.
There are basically three types of mobiles; those that hang from the ceiling, those that stand and those that are attached to a wall. The name “mobile” was coined by Sandy’s friend, the artist Marcel Duchamp. Sandy was also the inventor of another type of sculpture, the stabile, the name for which was coined by another artist friend, Joan Miro.
Calder bio written by Andrea Mulder-Slater
Create one strong line and several organic shapes by tearing paper and then drawing many contour lines around the edges of all paper shapes.
WHAT YOU NEED:
- Photos and actual shapes (in and outside of the classroom) to differentiate between geometric and organic shapes.
- Black construction paper square 9″ x 9″ (two students will each take a half after they tear it)
- White construction paper square 9″ x 9″, each student needs one for their background
- Lots of paper scraps in warm and cool colors
- Glue sticks
- Fine point Sharpie markers
WHAT YOU DO:
Discuss the difference between geometric and organic shapes, emphasizing organic shapes are free form with no straight edges or corners
Demonstrate how to tear paper into a variety of free form shapes and how to begin with their black square. Two students will share one black piece and tear it diagonally from corner to corner to create an interesting line that cuts the paper into two pieces. Each student takes one half and glues it to the corner of their own white square.
Students will choose either the warm or cool colored paper scraps, and tear a variety of small, medium and larger shapes in a mixture of shades.
Students will glue the larger shapes to the black side and the smaller ones to the white side. Shapes should also be glued in the middle touching on both black and white. The white side should have enough shapes so there are no big empty white areas. Depending on size, about 6-8 shapes.
Students check their work and add or refine from previous class. Some students layer their colors for more interest by gluing shapes on top of other shapes.
Students will begin to draw a sharpie line leaving a “white sidewalk” between each line they draw. The lines should be close or tight together without “crashing” into each other. This is an exercise in control but of course variations add to the character of the piece and there are many possible outcomes! Each time a line is drawn and a shape is in the way, the line is drawn around that shape continuing back on its original path. We continue to go around all the “islands” until the sharpie lines fill up to the edges of the paper.
Displaying the finished squares together creates a wonderful mural that can be designed in a variety of ways by turning the pieces to match up or not.
This lesson can be done with any color scheme or pattern and shapes can also be cut out instead of torn.
About the Author:
Lauralee Chambers has been an Art Educator for 25 years in Westchester, New York. She teaches over 900 students, 6 sections a day at two different schools with a total of 36 sections in a 6 day cycle. Lauralee also shares on Instagram at @2art.chambers and on her Pinterest account at Lauralee Chambers.