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Line, shape, and shoes.

At first, our third grade students scrunched up their faces in disbelief when we asked them to remove their sneakers, clogs, and boots. Quickly their confusion turned to intrigue as we introduced a project emphasizing line, shape, and color.

What can be a challenging and overwhelming lesson evolved into a detailed, as well as exciting, progression from line drawing toward an analogous color presentation.

Students took time to look carefully at the composition of their shoes. We emphasized the importance of looking closely at the individual segments of the shoe--lace holes in a sneaker, ridges of a boot, and the deep curved lines at the bottom of a clog. We stressed the need to look at each part of the shoe, the lines comprising the particular shoe, and how lines connect and turn into shapes.

As practice pencil sketches got underway, we asked that students look at the side view of their shoe, We felt this had the most diversity and interest for the drawing. It took awhile for the third graders to let go of getting the perfect sketch, and to slow down enough to truly look at their shoes. During the second hour of practice, students seemed to feel much more comfortable looking at their shoe, less at the sketch paper, and reviewing their work at the end of a lengthy drawing time.

To complete their sketches, students added black pen over the pencil lines. The students had a choice of whether to draw a shoe that repeated across the paper from one side to the other, or to create a series of shoes in an overlapping square. These variations created interesting twists including the repetitious lines created in overlapping shoes, repetitive detail shapes, and thoughtfully planned color combinations.

Adding Color

Next students focused on the careful selection of colors. The explanation of analogous, cool, and warm colors was reviewed at the beginning of each class. Often, students had mini-conferences with the art teacher to discuss their choices of colors, the amount of detail observed in the shoe, and to plan the next step of drawing.

Photocopied practice papers, of the black penned shoes afforded students the chance to experiment with different color combinations, learn how to use color markers and see the development of repetitive colors and shapes in their work.

Once students had practiced with color on two copies of the shoe, they planned which set of colors would go in which shoe. The intent was to alternate colors: first shoe cool colors; next shoe warm; third shoe cool colors, etc. Quickly, students were drawn to the quality of the markers, and took care to set up work areas that would allow for the most thoughtful addition of color. They took time to guide each other through the challenges of markers potentially bleeding or spreading out beyond black-line boundaries and color soaking through to the table below. The intent concentration on the drawing of their shoes was consistently evident in the quiet atmosphere of the artroom.

As students completed their color work, the shoes were carefully cut out. Foam core was placed between the shoe designs and a black background was added to create a quality presentation. As a final enhancement students took off their shoes one more time, placed them under a piece of black construction paper, and rubbed across the black paper with a white oil pastel. This created a repetitive design for the border of their compositions.

Three-Dimensional Shoes

As students completed the assignment, we asked them to go one step further with their shoes: a second color rendering was created of each shoe, but this time it was accomplished on 80 lb. watercolor paper. After using black pen on the shoe, it was cut out, and color was added to both sides of the shoe paper. Each shoe was cut, folded, and shaped into a three-dimensional sculpture. One point of the shoe remained intact, holding the shoe together. Students problem-solved how to fold, curve, and bend their shoe into unique shapes. A painted wooden skewer was attached to the sculpture. White oil pastel was applied to black tissue to create the shoe sole texture, which was then folded around a small block of clay. The sculpture was positioned in the clay and secured with hot glue.


Students use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas.

Carole Stewart and Wendy MacPhail teach kindergarten through fourth grade art for the Aspen School District in Aspen, Colorado.
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Author:MacPhail, Wendy
Publication:School Arts
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2003
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