The Art of Shapes - Painting Art Lesson for Kids

Painted heart

In this art lesson for kids, students are introduced to several works of contemporary art associated with shapes, and make a piece of their own art inspired by Jim Dine’s famous heart motif.

Grade Level: 1st - 4th grade

Time Required: 2 45-minute class periods

Vocabulary: Contemporary Art, Complimentary, Analogous, Color Scheme, Mark, Warm/Cool, Harmonious


Faber-Castell Tempera Paint

Brushes – flat and round


White 9x12 Construction

Paper Paper plates and paper towels

National Core Arts Standards:

Creating: #1, 2, 3

Presenting/Producing: #5

Responding: #7, 8, 9

Connecting: #11

The Art of Shapes, by Margaret Steele, 1997

The Art of Shapes is a unique board book teaching young students and adults alike about the many different shapes, each one corresponding to a piece of contemporary art with some short text discussing it.

Color wheel

Painting Stations

Set up different painting stations with tubs of analogous complementary color schemes which students can choose from for their artwork. The art shown in this lesson plan is created with the complimentary colors of red and green, along with their analogous colors positioned on either side of them on the color wheel. Refer to the above color wheel to understand and consider other possible color schemes to offer.

Keep tubs of color clean by instructing students to take turns using the brushes provided in each tub of paint, and not dipping brushes into different colors.

Include a tub of white paint at each station and demonstrate how lighter tints of colors can be made by adding varying amounts of white to new tints that they create on their own paper plate palettes. Provide extra mixing brushes for this, with a small water container for brush cleaning between colors.

Heart outline

1. Demonstrate how to draw a large freehand heart shape on 9x12 white paper. If students are young, you can prep each piece of paper with two dots as drawing guides; one at the bottom point of the heart, and one top center.

Heart outlined painting

2. Begin with the background, and show how to start with the first color and make random splotches, or “marks,” throughout the paper. Repeat method with the second analogous color, and then the third. Go round and round using different sized brushes with these colors and any tints created, creating a harmonious effect.\

Heart painting

3. Once the backgrounds are dry, or perhaps during the next class session, set up the stations with the warm, complimentary colors to the backgrounds created with their analogous colors for the heart image. Instruct students to paint the heart in the same fashion as they painted the background.

Mount all artwork on a flattering choice of colored construction paper.

Download the entire lesson plan, here!

Artist Biography - Janis Doukakis


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