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The Shape of Things


Did you have a favorite class in school? Mine were definitely English and Art. I was never a much of a math wiz… while pictures and words came naturally, numbers felt strange and foreign. In the murky history that was my high school math career, there was one yearlong bright spot: geometry. Perhaps it was the visual nature of the subject or just that I got to draw shapes… which may or may not have included a notebook full of doodles. But if I was only drawing shapes it counted as taking notes, right? Right?




My geometry class days may be over, but even now sometimes when I’m staring at a blank sheet of paper and not sure where to start, I’ll just draw a shape. Any shape… a rectangle, a diamond, a heart. Then I’ll add on to it. Maybe draw a second shape or add a detail to the first one. And before you know it, I’m on my way to a full-blown scribblefest. Even though the world is your oyster when you draw (you can literally draw anything!), sometimes limiting yourself to the basics can really exercise your imagination.




If you’re looking to put a spin on your usual doodling habits, try experimenting with shapes. Pick one basic shape—say, a triangle, circle, or square—and start drawing using only that shape. Don’t do a lot of planning. Just put pencil (or pen or marker) to paper and see what happens. This presents enough of a challenge to pull you out of your rut, but enough possibility to keep your marker moving. At first, it may sound like there’s not a lot to explore with just one shape, but you’ll be surprised with how far this exercise can take you! You can make each figure line up perfectly against each other or leave space between them. Try playing with size and angle. Create a pattern. Don’t forget colors!





Here are some examples of artwork using only one shape:


triangle drawing, drawing with shapes     triangle drawing, drawing with shapes   

Neon Desert Triangles by Katie Wohl
Precipice No. 2.2 by Crystal Jackson via xoxo lesley


drawing with shapes, quadrilaterals, squares and rectangles

Composition in Red and Blue  by Piet Mondrian


vintage brooch, only circles, drawing with shapes, circles    drawing with shapes, circles, only circles, drawing with circles

Vintage Brooch
Study of Concentric Circles by Wassily Kandinsky via Pre-K+K and Sharing




Once you’ve given this a try and you’re ready to change things up, try stranger shapes like stars, pentagons, or hearts. Or now use multiple shapes in the same drawing. If working with little ones, this can be a fun way to practice shapes. Your drawings can be as simple or complex as you choose. Have fun watching your drawings take shape!




Did a class in school ever inspire your art? Do you have a favorite shape?




Posted by: Lzahn, on May 15th, 2013 at 2:07pm.
Categories: Art, Kids, Tips

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