Thursday, December 10, 2015

landscapes- thick line style.

This week the 2nd graders are working with collage and landscape. The lesson is inspired by a skateboard design by Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Company did. In the design he took elements from a series of "thick lines" prints he did and put them together to create a layered landscape composition. The individual prints as well as the deck design are visual statements that are striking and bold in their color palette and simplicity.

This landscape touches on a couple points that 2nd graders need to know in terms of creating 3d space with shapes. It's a clear example of overlapping to create depth and Aaron also uses color value to separate layers.

This is a pretty direct lesson, but I wanted something that students could complete in one session after spending 2 classes working on their Miguel Mejia inspired animal portraits.

We quickly review the Miguel lesson and tell them that we are going to focus on creating depth in this project. When students come in I have paper laid out on the tables like this.

I ask them to look at how the papers in front of them to see if they can identify how the 3 pairs of color are similar in terms of creating a front/back relationship- each has one sheet overlap another and there is a dark color on top and a light color behind it.

We then look at Aaron's image and the kids go, "Whoa!" We look at how he uses those same elements and get ready to make some landscapes in the shape of skateboard decks.

We draw out patterns for water, trees, and mountains together on the light colored paper of each pair. When cutting, we put the corresponding darker color behind the light one, so we can cut out both sheets at the same time. Then we flip them back to dark in front of light, overlap them and place them on the deck paper.

When we get all 3 layers cut and placed we glue them down. We start with the light mountain and move forward in the scene. Once the "land" part of the landscape is done we move onto the sun and clouds. Here, it's a little different. We cut the sun, glue it onto the orange and cut a bigger circle. WE do it again for the red. We then make our cloud shape and decide the sun and cloud positioning in the sky.

To turn their landscapes into decks, I show them how we can round off the corners.

After clean up, we sit back down and the kids talk to a partner about how they created 3d space. I can cruise around and get a gist of the conversations. I then get a couple of them to volunteer to share with the whole group. Finally, kids think about what their favorite part of the project was and share that with a partner, and then some of them share with the whole group too.

The kids have loved this project. Even though it is a direct lesson, there is a decent amount of variety in the final products due to overlap spacing, sky element positioning, and pattern making.


  1. Hi there. I'm a school teacher in New Zealand and a fan of your work. I LOVE the skate series - inspirational! I am going to adapt and use the work of New Zealand artist Greg Straight - as seen here Greg's an old snowboarding pal of mine, so I'll ask him to come by and see the kids' work. Here's my teaching blog - please come by!

    1. fantastic! thanks for the kind words. let me know when you do the lesson- please post some pics:) do cool that you are able to turn it into a lesson with personal & local connections. have fun!

  2. These have a wonderful energy and different palettes would lend themselves to all seasons. I found you through Cassie Stephens-looking up marker prints. Diving back in to find those!

  3. These have a wonderful energy and different palettes would lend themselves to all seasons. I found you through Cassie Stephens-looking up marker prints. Diving back in to find those!

    1. thanks, Ashley! If you have any questions, let me know.

  4. Hi! I have not tried these yet, but I L O V E how the finished product looks! I also teach 2nd grade- did you do this beginning, mid, or end of year with students?

    Thanks for sharing!!

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