CREATING CUBISM – Shape, Colour, Harmony

Students use acrylic paint to create a cubist style painting. 

Required Time

180 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 7 to Grade 10


Language Arts
Visual Arts


balance colour contour drawing cubism harmony line overlap shape


Crayola Acrylic Paint - 6 Count Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x12") Crayola Paintbrushes - 5 Count Tracing Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Drawing Pencils - HB & 6B Still Life Objects Water Containers Paper Towels Tape

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CREATING CUBISM – Shape, Colour, Harmony - Step One

Step One

  1. Make contour drawings of three still life objects on white paper with an HB pencil.
CREATING CUBISM – Shape, Colour, Harmony - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Trace the three objects on a piece of tracing paper.
CREATING CUBISM – Shape, Colour, Harmony - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Move the tracing paper over the objects to create new lines and shapes. 
  2. Fill the tracing paper with lines and shapes.
CREATING CUBISM – Shape, Colour, Harmony - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Turn the tracing paper over and draw over all the lines with a 6B pencil.
CREATING CUBISM – Shape, Colour, Harmony - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Tape the corners of the tracing paper to watercolour paper.
  2. Be sure the 6B pencil lines are facing down against the watercolour paper.
  3. Draw over all the lines to copy the drawing onto the watercolour paper.


CREATING CUBISM – Shape, Colour, Harmony - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Check periodically to see that the lines are transferring to the watercolour paper.
CREATING CUBISM – Shape, Colour, Harmony - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Begin filling the shapes with acrylic paint. 
  2. Finish the painting by outlining the shapes with a marker. 

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • identify the characteristics of Cubism;
  • create a Cubist style painting using contour drawings and acrylic paint;
  • use colour and line to create harmony in a design;
  • repeat and overlap shapes to create a balanced design;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity;
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • research one of the cubist artists famous during the early 1900s, such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris;
  • work with a small group to create a set of interview questions that will reveal significant information about the artist in an entertaining way;
  • create a video featuring one of the students in role as the artist, another student in the role as the interviewer;
  • share their work with the class.


  1. Prior to this lesson provide time for students to practice contour drawing.
  2. Gather and make available books about cubism, for example, Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection, by Emily Braun; Cubism, by Anne Ganteführer-Trier; and Cubism: Odysseys in Art, by Shannon Robinson.
  3. Gather a variety of objects of different heights and shapes for drawing. 
  4. Download and preview images and information from the Internet,                         
  5. Preview the video What is Cubism available on the Internet.
  6. Download and display the Principles of Design posters available on this website.


  1. View and discuss the video What is Cubism focussing on
    ideas and issues that were important at the time
    - how those ideas compare with what is happening in the lives of students today
  2. Highlight key ideas of the Cubist movement in art.
  3. List the characteristics of Cubism.
    - composed of little cubes and other geometric forms
    - objects are flattened to forms are shown in 2-dimension
    - subject is shown from many different angles 
    - subject is fragmented almost like looking through broken glass
    - many are monochromatic
  4. View and discuss a Cubist painting, such as Still Life with Checked Tablecloth by Juan Gris.
    MET Analysis
  5. Introduce the Challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Identify the characteristics of Cubism.
  2. Create a Cubist style painting using contour drawings of 3 still life objects and acrylic paint.
  3. Use colour and line to create harmony.
  4. Repeat and overlap shapes to create balance.
  5. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  6. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students. For example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a Cubist style painting
    - used contour drawings of three objects to create my composition
    - used repeated and overlapping shapes to create balance
    - used colour and line to create harmony
    - kept the artwork in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
    - Demonstrate how to make contour drawings of three objects.
    - Demonstrate moving the tracing paper around the drawing to create new lines and shapes.
    - Encourage students to continue moving the tracing paper until the paper is filled with lines and shapes.
    - Remind students to eliminate lines that have created an area that is too complex or to add lines if a space is too empty.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Remind students to stop and view their work from a distance so they can see it with fresh eyes. 
  6. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Have students create a 'Cubism' gallery with their art works.
  2. Ask students to view the works on display and discuss which aspect of a work is most successful and why.
    - Encourage them to support their ideas with evidence they find in the works.
    - Remind them to think about what they have learned about the Cubist style and make connections.
  3. Ask students to think about and discuss their own creative process and how they worked through this project.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their paintings – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the painting, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - Cubism_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download - Cubism_self-assessment.pdf)