Friday, October 17, 2014

drawing like dalek.

This week the 4th graders continued their line unit. I introduced them to the work of James Marshall (aka Dalek), a painter and designer that works in a geometric abstract style. I wanted the kids to see how his work and the work of Sandra Willard shared similarities even though their artwork looks totally different. Working together, we were able to identify that line had similar responsibilities in each body of work- to make shapes, to create patterns, and to create (or help create) a variety of values.

We looked at a few of Dalek's paintings from 2010 and noticed that he used line to create only geometric looking shapes. Afterwards, I shared a brief video about a mural Dalek created in Boulder, Colorado. Students noticed how he created the whole painting by repeating and altering the shape, color, and value of one geometric shape. They LOVED the video:)

(I also love his take on public art, especially since we do legacy murals at Zamo every year. This wets the kids' appetite for what they will do with me next year.)

We started the drawing together by adding a vertical, a horizontal, and a diagonal line to their paper. I reviewed how to hold a ruler. We added a couple more lines together and I reviewed what it means for line to intersect. I then asked students to add 7-10 more lines going in any direction they chose, intersecting other lines or not. They then needed to add line patterns to most of the shapes they made.

All their lines got traced with black sharpies and then they added color patterns to most areas. I emphasized pressing hard and soft to create color value patterns and alternating colors to create patterns.

Once kids finished, their exit slip was to craft a letter to Mr. Marshall that used a minimum of 3 vocabulary words from the lesson word bank in the front of the room. Many kids have been coming in at recess to put the finishing touches on their drawings and those that wrote letters are curious to see if Mr. Marshall responds to their letters:)

A few years ago, I shared Dalek's work with students for the first time. The kids loved his work and their projects then, too:)

Also- This is a great interview with the artist about his process and history.


  1. These look very impressive. Thank you for the instructions and links and the photos that show the process. I will be doing this with my students, we love lines and shapes and colours, it makes them all artists.

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