Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Applying Line, Shape, and Color in Artwork

Subject Area

Arts Education




Students will learn about tactile characteristics in art by painting a flower in the style of pointillism. Georges Seurat invented pointillism, a painting style made up of using carefully placed dots to create images. Students will paint their flower using a cotton swab, with dots connecting throughout the image. Once the painting is dry, they will be able to feel the tactile characteristics of the image through the dots.

To understand the tactile characteristics of the project, students must understand the vocabulary that goes with it. We will cover the vocabulary words: primary color, secondary color, texture, smooth, rough.

This activity was created as a result of the Arts COS Resource Development Summit.

    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): 1 - Visual Arts


    Use art vocabulary while creating art.

    Unpacked Content



    • Complementary colors
    • Contrast
    • Curator
    • Elements of Art
      • Texture
    • Landscapes
    • Portrait
    • Positive/ negative space and shape
    • Principles of design
      • Repetition
      • Variety
    • Secondary colors
    • Still life
    • Technique
    • Venue

    Essential Questions

    EU: Artists and designers develop excellence through practice and constructive critique, reflecting on, revising, and refining work over time.
    EQ: What role does persistence play in revising, refining, and developing work? How do artists grow and become accomplished in art forms? How does collaboratively reflecting on a work help us experience it more completely?

    Skills Examples

    • Work with a partner or small group to create an artwork.
    • Use the book Perfect Square by Michael Hall to help "thinking outside the box" skills.
    • Create two-dimensional artworks using a variety of gadgets for printmaking.
    • Use paint media to create paintings of family portraits or a favorite memory.
    • Create three-dimensional artworks such as clay pinch pots or found-object sculptures.
    • View a step-by-step demonstration of an artistic technique.
    • Properly clean and store art materials.
    • Use Mouse Paint book by Helen Walsh to teach color mixing of primary to achieve secondary colors.
    • Create a painting inspired by Piet Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie.
    • Create a "Pop Art" inspired artwork of positive and negative spaces and shapes by using colored paper cut-outs and gluing to different background squares.
    • Make a color wheel and identify the complimentary colors (red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple).
    • Draw different forms in the school environment: cones in the gym, cubes in math center, and sphere used for a globe.
    • Create texture rubbings by placing paper over different surfaces and rubbing with a crayon or oil pastel. Use a rough brick wall, a smooth table, bumpy bubble wrap, or soft felt shapes.
    • Use repetition in art by looking at the designs on a shell or the stripes of a zebra for inspiration.

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 3: Refine and complete artistic work.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    Students will identify and apply primary and secondary colors in a work of art.
    Students will identify and apply line, shape, texture in a work of art. 


    Activity Details

    This learning activity should be taught after students have learned the following vocabulary words: primary color, secondary color, texture, smooth, and rough.  Understanding the vocabulary words and understanding primary and secondary colors will allow students to grasp the concept of this project easier. 

    After reviewing the vocabulary (primary & secondary colors, texture: rough & smooth), students will make secondary paint by mixing tempera paint.  Secondary colors are made by combining two primary colors. 

    1. Yellow and Blue make Green
    2. Blue and Red make Violet 
    3. Red and Yellow make Orange

    Show the students the following video: Mati and Dada meet Georges Seurat

    Students will copy a photo of a flower, seeking out the relationships in the color of the flower, such as blue and violet in an Iris or yellow and orange in a Sunflower. This learning activity will last about four classes with each student being given two colors each class (one for each end of their Q Tip). Students will learn to alternate colors giving a checkerboard feel to the painting and increasing the tactile response to the image. Pointillism followed the impressionist so an impressionist feel to the painting would be okay. Students should understand the dots should be thick enough to provide the tactile feeling once completed.

    1. The teacher will distribute each student a piece of painting paper with a flower sketched on it. Students will view pre-selected photo of a flower and make a list of the color they see in the pedals. Using the ideas that Seurat posed to Mati and Dada in the video, students should find the color combinations in their flower.
    2. The students will receive two primary colors (yellow, red, and blue) each session and a Q Tip to paint with.
    3. All painting should be done with dots to give the feel of Pointillism.
    4. Students will mix the colors on the paper using dots, creating secondary colors (orange, green, and purple) from primary colors.
    5. Each class students will receive different combinations of primary colors (yellow, red and blue) to make the colors they need to complete their painting.
    6. Students will be encouraged to make the dots thick, so the texture of the painting can be felt with touch. 
    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    Once the paintings are complete, each image will be reviewed to assure that each painting is made up of dots and no "swipes" with the cotton swab. Paint should be thick enough for students to close their eyes and follow the tactile characteristics of their flower with their fingertips. 


    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    Preparation for the lesson will include:

    • painting paper with a flower sketched for each student
    • a photo of each student's flower as a guide for color
    • a tray of paint containing either two primary colors or a primary and secondary color per class for making dots
    • one cotton swab per student to paint with

    Digital Tools / Resources