DECORATED LETTER – Pattern, Colour, Symbolism

Students design a letter containing a Celtic knot and personal symbolism, and use watercolour pencil techniques to paint it. 

Required Time

160 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 7 to Grade 10

Subject

Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts

Vocabulary

balance celtic knot colour harmony illuminated letters line pattern repetition shape symbolism

Materials

Water Containers Paper Towels Small Pencil Sharpeners Masking Tape Plastic Placemat Crayola® Marker & Watercolour Paper – 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm cm (9” X 12”) Black Crayon Watercolour Pencils Paint Brushes

Steps

DECORATED LETTER – Pattern, Colour, Symbolism - Step One

Step One

  1. Unwrap a crayon and break it into a piece about 2.5 cm long.
  2. Place the broken piece of crayon on your paper at a 45º angle.
DECORATED LETTER – Pattern, Colour, Symbolism - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Draw the letter keeping the crayon at a 45º angle.
  2. Practice drawing the letter until you get one that looks good to you.
DECORATED LETTER – Pattern, Colour, Symbolism - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Place a new piece of paper over the letter.
DECORATED LETTER – Pattern, Colour, Symbolism - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Use a pencil to trace the outline of the letter.
DECORATED LETTER – Pattern, Colour, Symbolism - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Draw your design into the letter. (Your rough copy.)
  2. Then lightly trace the design onto a new piece of paper. (Your good copy.)
DECORATED LETTER – Pattern, Colour, Symbolism - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Tape the drawing to a placemat.
  2. Make sure the edges are even and the paper is smooth.
DECORATED LETTER – Pattern, Colour, Symbolism - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Use a variety of watercolour pencil techniques to complete the design.
  2. Carefully remove the tape when your painting is dry.
DECORATED LETTER – Pattern, Colour, Symbolism - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Place the damp painting under some heavy books to flatten it if necessary.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. Create a decorated letter with personal symbolism using watercolour pencil techniques;
  2. Use line, shape and colour to create a variety of patterns;
  3. Include a Celtic knot in some part of the design;
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; and
  5. Support their ideas with evidence found in the works.

Extensions

Have students:

  1. Work in their sketchbooks to explore different ways to use watercolour pencils and calligraphy.
  2. Design modern letters decorated with emoticons and then compare their modern version with a letter from the Book of Kells.

Prepare

  1. Prior to this lesson you may want to have students do the basic Celtic knot lesson available on this website.
    Basic Celtic Knot
    OR 
  2. Print the basic Celtic Knot worksheets, enough for each student. (Downloads – BasicCelticKnot.pdf)
  3. Provide time for students to practice making the basic Celtic knot.
  4. Prior to this lesson have students experiment with watercolour pencil techniques in their sketchbooks.
  5. Download images of decorated letters, for example,
    Decorated A
    Decorated B
    Decorated B2
    Decorated C
    Kells
    Kells-2
  6. Gather several alphabet style sheets, for example, 
    Alphabet

Introduction

  1. View images of decorated letters including from the Book of Kells.
  2. Discuss the Book of Kells, how it was made, and its use of symbolic imagery.
    - an Irish book begun around 800 CE in Scotland, and moved to Ireland around 806 CE after Viking raids
    - made by Monks to teach people about Christianity
    - most famous European medieval manuscript still in existence
    - admired because of its beautiful art, attention to detail and craftsmanship
    - made on vellum (calfskin)
    - used 10 different colours, many of which were rare and expensive because they were so hard to get
    - contains the Four Gospels, stories about Jesus as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
    - uses symbolism to represent different parts of the story, for example, Matthew – man/angel; Mark – lion; Luke – calf; John – eagle
  3. Discuss the meaning of symbols that students are familiar with.
  4. Point out the overlapping pattern of the Celtic Knot in some of the letters. Ask if and where they have seen this design before.
  5. Introduce the challenge

Activities

The Challenge

  1. Create a decorated letter with personal symbolism using watercolour pencil techniques.
  2. Use line, shape and colour to create a variety of patterns.
  3. Include a Celtic knot in some part of the design.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

The Process

  1. ​Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    - accurate basic Celtic knot design
    - guide lines erased
    - effective use of colour
    - effective use of pattern
    - effective use of line
    - effective use of watercolour techniques
    - effective use of symbolism
    - effective composition
    - paper in good condition
  3. Allow students time to research symbols and learn how to do the Celtic knot.
  4. Demonstrate how to draw a letter with a broken crayon and allow them time to practice.
  5. Encourage students to think of the combinations of colours they will use and why.
  6. Encourage them to use symbols that are personally meaningful in their design.
  7. Encourage them to do several thumbnail sketches before beginning.
  8. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  9. Observe students as they work. 
  10. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.
  11. Once they are ready to begin, demonstrate how to tape their good drawing to the plastic mat and encourage them to use the various watercolour pencil skills they have developed in earlier lessons.

Sharing

  1. Once all the paintings are complete display them for a group discussion. Remind students of the challenge.
    - Look closely at the work.
    - Choose one that interests you for some reason.
    - Share thoughts about the work
  2. During the discussion include references to:
    line – how it has been used to create pattern
    movement – how colour and patterns move the eye through the whole space
    balance – how the placement and size of objects create visual balance
    symbolism – how objects and colours communicate ideas
  3. Ask students to tell how they felt about doing this project.

Assessment

  1. Observe students as they work  – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the art works – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – DecoratedLetter_tracking.pdf)
  3. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – DecoratedLetter_self-assessment.pdf)