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Patterns everywhere!

As an art educator, I am continually amazed at children's natural ability to create patterns. At an early age, children begin to repeat circles, lines and colors, filling the page with a continuous design. I have also found that children will repeat a pattern over and over: red, blue, red, blue, etc.

To develop this natural ability further, I designed an entire project based upon the concepts of pattern and repetition.

We began the lesson by discussing the close relationship between pattern and repetition - one can hardly exist without the other. We began to look at various examples of pattern in art, starting with ancient Egyptian and Greek art (patterns found on Grecian urns in particular). Next I showed slides of Op Artists such as Briget Riley and M.C. Escher. Students quickly began to see that pattern is a very important principle of design to many artists, it can be used as much more than a decorative tool. Pattern can create depth and movement, as well as mood, and can evoke feelings of uneasiness, as seen in Escher's work.

Once I established the importance of pattern and repetition in art, I asked the students to tell what other sources of pattern they might see every day. There are patterns on most clothing, wallpaper and most furniture. Once we formed a good list of pattern sources, I guided the discussion into patterns found in nature. The students listed things like line patterns on leaves and the rings on the inside of a tree trunk. At last, one student mentioned animals - BINGO! Animals are an excellent example of pattern and repetition found in nature.

It was now established: pattern is the key design principle used by many artists and every day we are exposed to many kinds of patterns all around us. I explained we were going to use patterns found on animals as a source for our projects, but first, more brainstorming. I had the students call out an animal and tell me the colors and type of pattern that animal exemplifies. We compiled a list of about ten animals like the one following. TIGER: stripes, orange and black SNAKE: diamonds, brown and black TURTLE: octagons, green and brown LEOPARD: spots, yellow and brown

Students were asked to choose three or four different animals from the list. I explained that they were to create a clear and organized collage with the animal. This would best be achieved by making a collage that clearly repeated itself. For example, a student might choose a tiger, leopard, snake and a zebra. The student must then choose how to lay out each pattern. One approach might be to start with tiger stripes, overlapped with brown dots representing leopard spots. Next the student could put black and white stripes for the zebra followed by a brown stripe overlaid with black diamonds for the snake. The last step would be to repeat all of that one more time - tiger stripes overlapped by spots, then zebra strips with snake diamonds last.

The materials required were very simple: glue and construction paper. The students were instructed to tear the paper for a softer effect rather than cutting which produces a perfect edge. The stripes and spots in nature are irregular in size and shape and I felt that torn paper would better produce that effect.

At the project's completion, it was easy to see that the students had gained a clear understanding of the design concepts, pattern and repetition. The project had set up a problem - how to organize a collage and make it repeat - which required each child to decide on his or her own individual solution. The students seemed to feel a sense of accomplishment and found that organization in a work of art is not always easy to achieve.

GeorgeAnn Winston teaches art at Donelson Christian Academy, Nashville, Tennessee.
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Title Annotation:teaching art students to create patterns
Author:Winston, GeorgeAnn
Publication:School Arts
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Words:644
Previous Article:Black + white in color.
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