Wednesday, December 9, 2015

shape skate.

This week the 5th graders are working with shape to create a cut paper skateboard design. After all 6 classes complete the project, I will be selecting a few students who exhibited good art room citizenship and creativity to create their designs on real wood decks.

The focus of this project is on layering different color value shapes to create depth and experimenting with positive and negative shapes to create interesting layered symmetrical designs.

The inspiration for the project comes from works by 3 different artists- Eva Zeisel, Patrick Hruby, and Shepard Fairey. I share images by these artists with the classes at the beginning of the lesson. We look at how they each create symmetry with shape and how each uses a balance between positive and negative shapes to create an interesting design. We also look at how the designs are different in terms of shape usage. I ask students to think about which of the designs is most interesting to them, so they can reflect on the work at the end of the lesson.

 Eva Zeisel

 Patrick Hruby

Shepard Fairey

The first project I did with the 5ths took 2 full class sessions, plus 20 more minutes for a total of 3 hours. I wanted this project to be completed in one class session. Most kids are hitting that mark. There was a lot of planning involved with their Boa Mistura public art drawings. This activity is much more spontaneous and each layer is a visual response to the preceding layer or layers.

Students could select white or gray paper for the deck color. They could then select from a variety of light colors for their background. I modeled folding the paper vertically, horizontally, or both ways to create a line or lines of symmetry and drawing simple shapes to cut out that would become negative shapes in that color. 

Students could then pick a medium color for their middleground. With this layer, I asked students to add more detail. To make their negative shapes a little bigger to allow their first layer to show through in places.

Students used a dark color paper for their foreground. Ideally, this is the most detailed layer. It has the biggest negative shapes.

As students laid their layers on top of each other I asked them to think about if enough of their middle and back showed through. If not, they could refold the layers on top and remove more paper.

The last step is to round of the top and bottom of the large rectangle to make the design into more of a skate deck shape.

Students are reflecting on the process and inspiration at the end of the lesson in writing.

I am really loving the visual variety in the final designs!


  1. These are really fantastic. My brother is in his mid-twenties and skateboards prolifically in nyc. He's also a graphic designer and has had his work selected for a whole line of "kids decks." How do you plan to get the kids' designs on decks? This is such a cool idea!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! Last year, I worked with a student to hand draw their design on a real deck, but that was a line inspired design. I'm thinking we can make stencils similar to the cut paper layers and spray paint the designs on the boards this time. What's your brother's name? I'd love to check out his work!