Skill Building Lesson

Lesson Title:
Creative Expression - Skill Building

Lesson Goal and Objective:
Students will practice drawing a scene using simplified shapes to practice skills related to creating their mural scene that represents a social issue that is important to them. In making the mural scenes, students will be drawing a complex variety of subject matter to represent their social issue. Therefore, to develop their skills students will complete an exercise, which consists of breaking down Diego Rivera’s paintings The Flower Carrier and Agrarian Leader Zapata into basic shapes and then recreating the scene utilizing the grid method of replication. Students will watch the teacher demonstrate the exercise prior to completing the exercise themselves.

Grade Level:
High School - Beginning

1 - 2 hour class period



Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes:
Students will be able to:

  • See the ways in which complex objects are a combination of simple shapes.
  • Draw out a complex composition using the grid method.
  • Apply the practice of simplifying shapes to replicating an image.

Art Materials and Tools:

  • Drawing pencils
  • Erasers

Instructional Resources:

  • Grid method handout
  • Grid method worksheet - one for each student
  • Completed Simplifying Shapes Exercise worksheets
  • Projector
  • Whiteboard

Anticipatory Set

  • Teacher explains that students will practice breaking complex objects into their simple shapes and using the grid method to replicate a composition. This skill will be needed to create their social issue mural scenes, which they will begin working on the following class period. (10 minutes)
  • Direct Instruction
  • Teacher demonstrates the concept of using the grid method to draw out a complex composition. Using a projected grid, the teacher will demonstrate how to enlarge elements from the small original to the larger mural size.  The students will follow along on their worksheets.
  • Teacher demonstrates how to replicate an image by breaking the complex objects down into simple shapes and seeing the relationships between the shapes. The teacher shows the students how they should start with larger, simple shapes and work down to the details. The students will follow along on their worksheets. 
  • During the demonstration, the teacher will ask students to recall parts of the demonstration and instructions for completing the exercise to check for their understanding.

Guided Practice

  • Students continue to work on their worksheets, now working on the image Agrarian Leader Zapata, using the skills they have learned. Teacher walks around the room to answer questions and ensure students are on the right track. 
  • Independent Practice
  • Students complete the rest of their exercise at home - they are due the following day.

DAY 2 (first 10 minutes of class)

  • Teacher asks students to recap the key things to remember when simplifying complex objects into simple shapes to replicate an image.
  • Students turn in their worksheet.

Accommodations and Modifications:

  • English Language Learner: pair with a student or aide who speaks their native language during the demonstration. Provide a written copy of the instructions so that they will be able to translate them with the help of a tutor or translation software.
  • Gifted and Talented: ask them to replicate a third scene or to begin applying value to the shapes in their worksheet.
  • Learning Disabilities: partner them with a gifted and talented student to go over the concepts. Provide an alternative, simpler image (Diego Rivera’s The Flower Seller) for them to copy instead of Agrarian Leader Zapata.

Multiple Intelligences:

  • Visual/Spatial: could be addressed as students work on breaking objects down into simple shapes and replicating the shape relationships they see.
  • Logical/Mathematical: could be addressed as students see the relationships of the images using the grids and use math to enlarge their image onto a larger grid.


  • Shape - (noun): The external form or appearance of something; the outline of an area or object.
  • Replicate - (noun): Make an exact copy of, reproduce.
  • Composition - (noun): The artistic arrangement of the parts of a picture.
  • Positive Space - (noun): The area of the composition that the subject occupies.
  • Negative Space - (noun): The background of the composition.

Criteria for Assessment:
Did Students:

  • See the ways in which complex objects are a combination of simple shapes?
  • Draw out a complex composition using the grid method?
  • Apply the practice of simplifying shapes to replicating an image?

Method of Assessment:

  • During studio time, as the students are working on the exercise, the teacher will monitor the progress of students to ensure they are working and on track for completing the exercise. Teacher will clarify instructions, answer questions, or re-teach, when needed. The exercise will be evaluated and graded based on the amount of completion, according to the instructions.

California Visual Arts Standards:

  • Creative Expression
    • 2.1 Solve a visual arts problem that involves the effective use of the elements of art and the principles of design.

For a PDF version of the Skill Building Lesson, click here

For handouts associated with the Skill Building Lesson, click here