Lesson Plan: Otis Jones’ “Blue with Four White Squares”

This lesson plan was researched and written by Ransom Jarvis, a Spring 2022 University of Texas at Tyler Intern at the Tyler Museum of Art. The lesson plan was edited by Rachel Anthony, the Tyler Museum of Art Education Manager.

This lesson plan contains the Texas TEKS for Elementary, Middle, and High School art teachers. Students will learn about Otis Jones’ style of Minimalism. Then, the students will create a Minimalist artwork that focuses on symmetry, balance, movement, and rhythm.


If you use or reference this lesson plan, please leave a comment with your feedback. The lesson plan can be downloaded in the link below.


Otis Jones, Blue with Four White Squares, n.d., Acrylic on paper, 35½ x 24in, Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, Texas, United States.

Culture: American

Subject: Fine Art, Art History

Collection: Tyler Museum of Art’s Permanent Collection

Grades: Elementary School, Middle School and High School

Topics: Artistic Practices, Art History, Critical Thinking, and Contemporary Art


Art Vocabulary

Activity Vocabulary:

Tempera:

  • Tempera is a painting medium that incorporates water, color pigment, and egg yolk solvent to create a vibrantly pigmented paint.[1]
  • A painting style which comes out of clothes much easier than acrylic.

Otis Jones:

  • Otis Jones is a minimalist painter from Texas who focuses on “the most basic essentials: the relationship of form, composition and color”.[2]
  • He states: “I’m interested in objects, patina, wear, and age. Each piece takes on its own geology. I don’t hide anything. It’s a very real object”.[3]
    • An Important Note to Remember: Otis Jones is not the definitive, archetypal minimalist painter. He excels at one style of minimalism. Be sure to explain to your students that he is not representative of all minimalism, instead a singular style.

Minimalism:[4]

  • Minimalist art, like abstract art, intends to make art that does not imitate reality.  It differs from abstract art, in that it usually uses a limited amount of  colors and defined (often) geometric shapes. With Minimalism, ‘what you see is what you see’.[5]
  • Minimalist art embraces geometric forms, deliberately lacks expression/reference, and has an architecture-esque awareness of space.[6]
    • Otis Jones’s  art contains no pictorial motifs or narratives, the art in itself is all that is seen.[7]

Patination:[8]

  • Patination is a process that occurs in sculpture making, in which bronze or copper develop a green or brown tarnish. Though a tarnish, visually similar to rust, patina is often seen as a positive addition to art. It is seen as a decorative ornament as well as a protective layer.
  • Patina occurs naturally in sculptures through wear, age, and exposure, but can also be caused intentionally by advancing the process via chemicals.
  • Patina tells the viewer multiple things- it adds a new texture and an alteration in color. It signifies, or at least mimics, the natural exposure a sculpture experiences over a long time.
    • Even if a sculpture was recently made, but had a patina applied to it, the viewer would feel a sense of antiquity or extended age upon viewing the sculpture.
    • An Important Note to Remember: Patina, in the context of this lesson, refers to Otis Jones’ methods of ‘distress’. This is further discussed in “Otis Jones & Distressed Canvases”.

Distress often Identified in Artwork:

  • Distress, in art, is a technique used to ‘imperfect’ the exterior appearance of something to simulate the effects of age or wear.
  • Like patina, distressing is visually quite similar to the natural degradation of organic things, but despite its nature it is still intuited as an enhancement. 

Otis Jones & Distressed Canvases:

  • Unlike typical modernist painting, Jones embraces rough textures and distressed surfaces which allows his geometric shapes to become unique.[9]
  • “Jones instructs [his canvas-maker] not to manufacture imperfection, but to allow for small, organic errors, such as lamination drips”.[10]
    • His creative process utilizes imperfect tools and material, along with perfect (geometric) forms. He borrows from a shared understanding of ideal shapes and color, and translates them through his own tools and processes. They become his own creations through this process.
    • Jones does not just embrace imperfection; he utilizes it as a tool of creation and distinction.
    • “[His] reverence for imperfection places [him] within a recent trend towards the purposeful “de-skilling” of painting”[11]

Elements of Design[12]

  • Artists use the elements of design to create the foundation of the artwork. The elements of art include line, shape, form, space, color, and texture.

Line

  • An element of design; line is created on a surface with a pointed moving tool. Lines can range in size, width, texture, and presentation. Common types of line are vertical, horizontal, diagonal, zigzag, and curved.

Shape:

  • An element of design; shape is a two-dimensional enclosed space that represents either an organic shape or a geometric shape. Geometric shapes include squares, circles, rectangles, triangles and other standard geometric shapes. Organic shapes include natural non-geometric shapes that are developed from curvilinear lines.

Form:

  • An element of design; form is a three-dimensional enclosed space that represents organic and geometric shapes in a third space. Geometric forms include cubes, spheres, triangular prisms, rectangular prisms, and cones. Organic shapes include three-dimensional forms observed in nature, such as trees, rivers, and rocks.

Space:

  • An element of design; this term defines the surface area between, before, and behind an object in a composition.

Color:

  • An element of design; this term defines the pigments used in a painting. Color can be organized into categories, such as: hues, values, complements, and intensity.

Texture:

  • An element of design; this term defines an artwork’s surface. The artist’s use of the chosen medium creates either implied or actual texture.

Principles of Design[13]

  • Artists used principles of design to build upon the foundational elements of design. This includes the following: rhythm, movement, balance, proportion, variety, emphasis, and unity. 

Rhythm/ Pattern

  • A principle of design; this term defines the repetitive imagery and elements of design found in a composition.

Movement:

  • A principle of design; this term defines the visual movement observed in a painting. This can be identified as kinetic movement or implied movement. Additionally, movement can be defined as how the viewer’s eye moves throughout the composition.

Balance:

  • A principle of design; this term defines the arrangement of the presented imagery with the elements of design. It refers to either asymmetrical compositions or symmetrical compositions.

Proportion:

  • A principle of design; this term defines the comparative size between objects in the composition. It can refer to the imagery within a painting or the size between a sculpture and a real object.

Variety:

  • A principle of design; this term defines the combination of imagery, objects, and ideas in an artwork.

Emphasis:

  • A principle of design; this term defines the most prominent area in a composition. The viewer’s eye is drawn to this point because the artist used a mixture of the elements and principles of design.

Unity:

  • A principle of design; this term defines how the elements and principles of design are combined within a composition.

Vocabulary and Lesson Plan Footnotes

[1] “Art Term: Tempera,” Tate, Accessed February 14, 2022, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/t/tempera#:~:text=The%20technique%20of%20painting%20with,oil%20and%20a%20whole%20egg

[2] “About: Otis Jones,” Marc Sraus, Accessed  January 24, 2022, https://www.marcstraus.com/artists/otis-jones/

[3] Ibid.

[4] “Art Term: Minimalism,” Tate, Accessed February 11, 2022, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/m/minimalism

[5] Frank Stella, “Art Term: Minimalism,” Tate, Accessed February 11, 2022, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/m/minimalism

[6]  “Art Term: Minimalism,” Tate, Accessed February 11, 2022, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/m/minimalism

[7]   “About: Otis Jones,” Marc Sraus, Accessed  February 4, 2022, https://www.marcstraus.com/artists/otis-jones/

[8]“What Is Patination?,” The Sculpture Park, Accessed February 11, 2022, https://www.thesculpturepark.com/patination/

[9] Michael Corris, “How to Look at Style and Substance: The Paintings of Otis Jones and Bret Slater,” Glasstire, modified June 7, 2014, accessed February 4, 2022, https://glasstire.com/2014/07/07/how-to-look-at-style-and-substance-the-paintings-of-otis-jones-and-bret-slater/

[10] “Otis Jones: Recent Work, August 14-September 18, 2021,” Exhibition Guide, Nino Mier Gallery, accessed February 4, 2022, https://www.miergallery.com/attachment/en/5da4b461a5aa2c47128b4567/TextOneColumnWithFile/6117fe07d2f6f356401b43ed 

[11] Ibid.

[12] Rosalins Ragan, “Elements of Art, ” in Art Talk, 61 – 211, ed. Bennett and McKnight Division, (San Francisco: Glencoe Publishing Company, 1988), 61 – 211. 

[13] Rosalins Ragan, “The Principles of Art, ” in Art Talk, 211 – 347, ed. Bennett and McKnight Division, (San Francisco: Glencoe Publishing Company, 1988), 211 – 347. 


Bibliography: Resources for the Vocabulary and Lesson Plan

“Art Term: Minimalism.” Tate, Accessed February 11, 2022, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/m/minimalism

Cross, Michael. “How to Look at Style and Substance: The Paintings of Otis Jones and Bret Slater,” Glasstire, updated June 7, 2014, accessed February 4, 2022, https://glasstire.com/2014/07/07/how-to-look-at-style-and-substance-the-paintings-of-otis-jones-and-bret-slater/

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.102: Art, Kindergarten, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=102.

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.105: Art, Grade 1, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=105.

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.108: Art, Grade 2, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=108.

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.111: Art, Grade 3, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=111.

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.114: Art, Grade 4, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=114.

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.117: Art, Grade 5, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=117.

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.202: Art, Middle School 1, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=202.

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.203: Art, Middle School 2, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=203.

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.204: Art, Middle School 3, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=204.

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.302: Art, Level I, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=302.

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.303: Art, Level II, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=303.

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.304: Art, Level III, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=304.

Office of the Secretary of State. “§117.305: Art, Level IV, Adopted 2013.” Texas Education Agency: Education, updated 2013, accessed January 5, 2022, https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=117&rl=305.

“Otis Jones: Recent Work, August 14-September 18, 2021,” Exhibition Guide, Nino Mier Gallery, accessed February 4, 2022, https://www.miergallery.com/attachment/en/5da4b461a5aa2c47128b4567/TextOneColumnWithFile/6117fe07d2f6f356401b43ed  

Ragan, Rosalins. “Elements of Art.” In Art Talk, 61 – 211. Edited by Bennett and McKnight Division. San Francisco: Glencoe Publishing Company, 1988.

Ragan, Rosalins. “The Principles of Design.” In Art Talk, 211 – 347. Edited by Bennett and McKnight Division. San Francisco: Glencoe Publishing Company, 1988.

Stella, Frank. “Art Term: Minimalism.” Tate, Accessed February 11, 2022, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/m/minimalism

Straus, Marc. “About: Otis Jones.” Marc Straus. Accessed January 24, 2022. https://www.marcstraus.com/artists/otis-jones/

“What Is Patination?” The Sculpture Park. Accessed February 11, 2022. https://www.thesculpturepark.com/patination/ 


Elementary School Lesson Plans


Goals:

Elementary School Students of all levels will be able to do the following:

  • Identify the principles of design used in the artwork;
  • Identify the elements of design used in the artwork;
  • Students will describe what minimalism is in artwork;
  • Students will identify and describe symmetry and rhythm within artwork;
  • Students will identify the minimalism in Otis Jones’s artwork;
  • Students will create a minimalist piece of art.

Texas Elementary School TEKS: 

Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade, and Fifth Grade


Kindergarten:

  • §117.102.b.1.A / B
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • gather information from subjects in the environment using the senses;
      • identify the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, and form, and the principles of design, including repetition/pattern and balance, in the environment.
  • §117.102.b.2. A / B / C
    • Creative Expression:
      • create artworks using a variety of lines, shapes, colors, textures, and forms;
      • arrange components intuitively to create artworks;
      • use a variety of materials to develop manipulative skills while engaging in opportunities for exploration through drawing, painting, printmaking, constructing artworks, and sculpting, including modeled forms.
  • §117.102.b.3. A
    • Historical and Cultural Relevance:
      • identify simple subjects expressed in artworks.
  • §117.102.b.4.A / B
    • Critical Evaluation and Response:
      • express ideas about personal artworks or portfolios;
      • express ideas found in collections such as real or virtual art museums, galleries, portfolios, or exhibitions using original artworks created by artists or peers;

First Grade:

  • §117.105.b.1.A / B
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • identify similarities, differences, and variations among subjects in the environment using the senses;
      • identify the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, and form, and the principles of design, including emphasis, repetition/pattern, and balance, in nature and human-made environments.
  • §117.105.b.2. A / B / C
    • Creative Expression:
      • invent images that combine a variety of lines, shapes, colors, textures, and forms;
      • place components in orderly arrangements to create designs;
      • increase manipulative skills necessary for using a variety of materials to produce drawings, paintings, prints, constructions, and sculptures, including modeled forms.
  • §117.105.b.3. A
    • Historical and Cultural Relevance:
      • identify simple ideas expressed in artworks through different media;
  • §117.105.b.4.A / B
    • Critical Evaluation and Response:
      • explain ideas about personal artworks;
      • identify ideas found in collections such as real or virtual art museums, galleries, portfolios, or exhibitions using original artworks created by artists or peers.

Second Grade:

  • §117.108.b.1.A / B
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • compare and contrast variations in objects and subjects from the environment using the senses;
      • identify the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, form, and space, and the principles of design, including emphasis, repetition/pattern, movement/rhythm, and balance.
  • §117.108.b.2. A / B / C
    • Creative Expression:
      • express ideas and feelings in personal artworks using a variety of lines, shapes, colors, textures, forms, and space;
      • create compositions using the elements of art and principles of design;
      • identify and practice skills necessary for producing drawings, paintings, prints, constructions, and sculpture, including modeled forms, using a variety of materials.
  • §117.108.b.3. A
    • Historical and Cultural Relevance:
      •  interpret stories, content, and meanings in a variety of artworks;
  • §117.108.b.4. A / B / C
    • Critical Evaluation and Response:
      • support reasons for preferences in personal artworks;
      • compare and contrast ideas found in collections such as real or virtual art museums, galleries, portfolios, or exhibitions using original artworks created by artists or peers;
      • compile collections of artwork such as physical artwork, electronic images, sketchbooks, or portfolios for the purposes of self evaluations or exhibitions.

Third Grade:

  • §117.111.b.1.A / B / C
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • explore ideas from life experiences about self, peers, family, school, or community and from the imagination as sources for original works of art;
      • use appropriate vocabulary when discussing the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, form, space, and value, and the principles of design, including emphasis, repetition/pattern, movement/rhythm, contrast/variety, balance, proportion, and unity;
      • discuss the elements of art as building blocks and the principles of design as organizers of works of art.
  • §117.111.b.2. A / B / C
    • Creative Expression
      • integrate ideas drawn from life experiences to create original works of art;
      • create compositions using the elements of art and principles of design;
      • produce drawings; paintings; prints; sculpture, including modeled forms; and other art forms such as ceramics, fiber art, constructions, mixed media, installation art, digital art and media, and photographic imagery using a variety of materials.
  • §117.111.b.3. A
    • Historical and Cultural Relevance:
      • identify simple main ideas expressed in artworks from various times and places;
  • §117.111.b.4. A / B / C
    • Critical Evaluation and Response
      • evaluate the elements of art, principles of design, or expressive qualities in artworks of self, peers, and historical and contemporary artists;
      • use methods such as oral response or artist statements to identify main ideas found in collections of artworks created by self, peers, and major historical or contemporary artists in real or virtual portfolios, galleries, or art museums;
      • compile collections of personal artworks such as physical artworks, electronic images, sketchbooks, or portfolios for purposes of self assessment or exhibition.

Fourth Grade:

  • §117.114.b.1.A / B / C
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • explore and communicate ideas drawn from life experiences about self, peers, family, school, or community and from the imagination as sources for original works of art;
      • use appropriate vocabulary when discussing the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, form, space, and value, and the principles of design, including emphasis, repetition/pattern, movement/rhythm, contrast/variety, balance, proportion, and unity;
      • discuss the elements of art as building blocks and the principles of design as organizers of works of art.
  • §117.114.b.2. A / B / C
    • Creative Expression:
      • integrate ideas drawn from life experiences to create original works of art;
      • create compositions using the elements of art and principles of design; and
      • produce drawings; paintings; prints; sculpture, including modeled forms; and other art forms such as ceramics, fiber art, constructions, mixed media, installation art, digital art and media, and photographic imagery using a variety of art media and materials.
  • §117.114.b.3. A
    • Historical and Cultural Relevance:
      • compare content in artworks for various purposes such as the role art plays in reflecting life, expressing emotions, telling stories, or documenting history and traditions;
  • §117.114.b.4. A / B / C
    • Critical Evaluation and Response
      • evaluate the elements of art, principles of design, intent, or expressive qualities in artworks of self, peers, and historical and contemporary artists.
      • use methods such as written or oral response or artist statements to identify emotions found in collections of artworks created by self, peers, and major historical or contemporary artists in real or virtual portfolios, galleries, or art museums;
      • compile collections of personal artworks for purposes of self-assessment or exhibition such as physical artworks, electronic images, sketchbooks, or portfolios.

Fifth Grade:

  • §117.117.b.1.A / B / C
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • develop and communicate ideas drawn from life experiences about self, peers, family, school, or community and from the imagination as sources for original works of art;
      • use appropriate vocabulary when discussing the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, form, space, and value, and the principles of design, including emphasis, repetition/pattern, movement/rhythm, contrast/variety, balance, proportion, and unity; and
      • discuss the elements of art as building blocks and the principles of design as organizers of works of art.
  • §117.117.b.2. A / B / C
    • Creative Expression:
      • integrate ideas drawn from life experiences to create original works of art;
      • create compositions using the elements of art and principles of design;
      • produce drawings; paintings; prints; sculpture, including modeled forms; and other art forms such as ceramics, fiber art, constructions, digital art and media, and photographic imagery using a variety of materials.
  • §117.117.b.3. A / B
    • Historical and Cultural Relevance:
      • compare the purpose and effectiveness of artworks from various times and places, evaluating the artist’s use of media and techniques, expression of emotions, or use of symbols;
      • compare the purpose and effectiveness of artworks created by historic and contemporary men and women, making connections to various cultures;
  • §117.117.b.4. A / B / C
    • Critical Evaluation and Response
      • evaluate the elements of art, principles of design, general intent, media and techniques, or expressive qualities in artworks of self, peers, or historical and contemporary artists;
      • use methods such as written or oral response or artist statements to identify themes found in collections of artworks created by self, peers, and major historical or contemporary artists in real or virtual portfolios, galleries, or art museums;
      • compile collections of personal artworks for purposes of self-assessment or exhibition such as physical artworks, electronic images, sketchbooks, or portfolios.

Elementary Art Activity


Questions for Elementary School Students:

  1. Examine Otis Jones’s Blue with Four White Squares. Identify where each element of art is located in the art.
  2. Examine Otis Jones’s Blue with Four White Squares. Identify where each principle of art is located in the art.
  3. What is minimalism?
  4. How many shapes does Otis Jones’s work contain?

Activity: Elementary School Fine Arts

  • Activity Setting: Classroom
  • Materials: Drawing paper, construction paper, glue sticks, scissors, tempera paint, plastic utensils
  • Subject: Art History, Minimalism, 2D Composition, Shapes, Elements and Principles of Design
  • Texas TEKS: Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade, and Fifth Grade
  • Duration: Single Day Project

Students will study Otis Jones’ Blue with Four White Squares. The class will create a Minimalist artwork that focuses on asymmetrical and symmetrical shapes and rhythm. First, the students will each receive a piece of white drawing paper and different colors of construction paper. Using scissors, students will cut various sized shapes from the construction paper. Next, they will glue the shapes to the drawing paper to create an interesting composition that uses rhythm as well as symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes. The shapes can overlap, but the students should avoid placing all of their shapes in one area.

Once the shapes are glued to the drawing paper, and the teacher has approved of the design, the students can begin the painting stage. The students will receive tempera paint and either a plastic spoon or a fork from the teacher. The students will dip the fork or spoon into the paint and use it as a “paintbrush”. The goal is for the student to paint various sized shapes with their fork or spoon that exhibits rhythm as well as symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes. The painted shapes can overlap the construction paper. When the students have finished painting, the student will clean their desk, throw away the fork/spoon, and place the artwork on the drying rack.


Activity: Elementary School Art History

  • Activity Setting: Classroom
  • Materials: Pencil/ Pen on Paper or Word Document
  • Subject: Art History, Minimalism, 2D Composition, Shapes, Elements and Principles of Design
  • Texas TEKS: Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade, and Fifth Grade
  • Duration: Single Day Project

After the students have created their artworks, Each student will present their work to the class. The students will identify how they used symmetry, rhythm, and color to create their artwork. If the student has a particular motivation for their design, they should express it to the class. Next, the students should partner and point out the elements of their partner’s composition.


Middle School Lesson Plans


Goals:

Middle School Students of all Levels will be able to do the following:

  • Identify the principles of design used in the artwork;
  • Identify the elements of design used in the artwork;
  • Students will describe what minimalism is in artwork;
  • Students will identify and describe symmetry and rhythm within artwork;
  • Students will identify and describe movement and balance within artwork;
  • Students will identify the minimalism in Otis Jones’s artwork;
  • Students will create a minimalist piece of art.

Texas Middle School TEKS:

Art 1, Art 2, Art 3


Art 1:

  • §117.202.c.1.A / B / C / D
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • identify and illustrate concepts from direct observation, original sources, personal experiences, and communities such as family, school, cultural, local, regional, national, and international;
      • understand and apply the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, form, space, and value, as the fundamentals of art in personal artworks using art vocabulary appropriately;
      • understand and apply the principles of design, including emphasis, repetition/pattern, movement/rhythm, contrast/variety, balance, proportion, and unity, in personal artworks using art vocabulary appropriately;
      • discuss the expressive properties of artworks such as appropriation, meaning, narrative, message, and symbol using art vocabulary accurately.
  • §117.202.c.1.A / B / C
    • Creative Expression:
      • create original artworks based on direct observations, original sources, personal experiences, and the community;
      • apply the art-making process to solve problems and generate design solutions;
      • produce artworks, including drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures/modeled forms, ceramics, fiber art, photographic imagery, and digital art and media, using a variety of materials.
  • §117.202.c.4.A / B / D
    • Critical Evaluation and Response
      • create written or oral responses to artwork using appropriate art vocabulary;
      • analyze original artworks using a method of critique such as describing the artwork, analyzing the way it is organized, interpreting the artist’s intention, and evaluating the success of the artwork;
      • investigate and explore original artworks in a variety of venues outside of the classroom such as museums, galleries, or community art;

Art 2:

  • §117.203.b.1.A / B / C / D
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • identify and illustrate ideas from direct observation, original sources, imagination, personal experiences, and communities such as family, school, cultural, local, regional, national, and international;
      • compare and contrast the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, form, space, and value, as the fundamentals of art in personal artworks using vocabulary accurately;
      • compare and contrast the principles of design, including emphasis, repetition/pattern, movement/rhythm, contrast/variety, balance, proportion, and unity, in personal artworks using vocabulary accurately;
      • understand and apply the expressive properties of artworks such as appropriation, meaning, narrative, message, and symbol using art vocabulary accurately.
  • §117.203.b.1.A / B / C
    • Creative Expression:
      • create original artworks that express a variety of ideas based on direct observations, original sources, and personal experiences, including memory, identity, imagination, and the community;
      • apply the art-making process to solve problems and generate design solutions;
      • apply technical skills effectively using a variety of materials to produce artworks, including drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures/modeled forms, ceramics, fiber art, photographic imagery, and digital art and media;
  • §117.203.b.4.A / B / D
    • Critical Evaluation and Response:
      • create written or oral responses about personal or collaborative artworks addressing purpose, technique, organization, judgment, and personal expression;
      • analyze original artworks using a method of critique such as describing the artwork, analyzing the way it is organized, interpreting the artist’s intention, and evaluating the success of the artwork;
      • investigate and explore original artworks in a variety of venues outside of the classroom such as museums, galleries, or community art;

Art 3:

  • §117.203.b.1.A / B / C / D
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • identify and illustrate concepts from direct observation, original sources, imagination, personal experience, and communities such as family, school, cultural, local, regional, national, and international;
      • evaluate the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, form, space, and value, as the fundamentals of art in personal artworks using vocabulary accurately;
      • evaluate the principles of design, including emphasis, repetition/pattern, movement/rhythm, contrast/variety, balance, proportion, and unity, in personal artworks using vocabulary accurately;
      • compare and contrast the expressive properties of artworks, including appropriation, meaning, narrative, message, and symbol, using vocabulary accurately.
  • §117.203.b.1.A / B / C
    • Creative Expression:
      • create original artworks expressing themes found through direct observation; original sources; personal experiences, including memory, identity, and imagination; and the community;
      • apply the art-making process to solve problems and generate design solutions;
      • create artworks by selecting appropriate art materials, including drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures/modeled forms, ceramics, fiber art, photographic imagery, and digital art and media;
  • §117.203.b.4.A / B / C
    • Critical Evaluation and Response:
      • create written and oral responses about personal or collaborative artworks addressing purpose, technique, organization, judgment, and personal expression;
      • analyze original artworks and portfolios using a method of critique such as describing the artwork, analyzing the way it is organized, interpreting the artist’s intention, and evaluating the success of the artwork;
      • investigate and explore original artworks in a variety of venues outside of the classroom such as museums, galleries, or community art;

Middle School Art Activity


Questions for Middle School Students:

  1. Examine Otis Jones’s Blue with Four White Squares. Identify where each element of art is located in the art.
  2. Examine Otis Jones’s Blue with Four White Squares. Identify where each principle of art is located in the art.
  3. Did Otis Jones successfully create a minimalist artwork? Why or why not?
  4. How does Otis Jones’s symmetrically place white squares imply imaginary shapes?
    1. If lines are drawn to connect the white squares, the blue rectangle becomes three proportionate rectangles.
  5. How does Otis Jones’s use of distress enhance this work?

Activity: Middle School Fine Arts

  • Activity Setting: Classroom
  • Materials: Drawing paper, construction paper, glue sticks, scissors, acrylic paint, plastic utensils
  • Subject: Art History, Minimalism, 2D Composition, Shapes, Elements and Principles of Design
  • Texas TEKS: Art 1, Art 2, Art 3
  • Duration: Single Day Project

Students will study Otis Jones’ Blue with Four White Squares. The class will create a Minimalist artwork that focuses on asymmetrical and symmetrical shapes and rhythm. First, the students will each receive a piece of white drawing paper and different colors of construction paper. Using scissors, students will cut various sized shapes from the construction paper. Next, they will glue the shapes to the drawing paper to create an interesting composition that uses rhythm as well as symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes. The shapes can overlap, but the students should avoid placing all of their shapes in one area.

Once the shapes are glued to the drawing paper, and the teacher has approved of the design, the students can begin the painting stage. The students will receive acrylic paint and either a plastic spoon or a fork from the teacher. The students will dip the fork or spoon into the paint and use it as a “paintbrush”. The goal is for the student to paint various sized shapes with their fork or spoon that exhibits rhythm as well as symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes. The students should also incorporate movement and balance by introducing various lines with the fork or spoon. The painted shapes can overlap the construction paper. When the students have finished painting, the student will clean their desk, throw away the fork/spoon, and place the artwork on the drying rack.


Activity: Middle School Art History

  • Activity Setting: Classroom
  • Materials: Pencil/ Pen on Paper or Word Document
  • Subject: Art History, Minimalism, 2D Composition, Shapes, Elements and Principles of Design
  • Texas TEKS: Art 1, Art 2, Art 3
  • Duration: Single Day Project

Students will make an artist statement that explains how they used symmetry, rhythm, and color in the artwork. They must also discuss the movement in their work, or the intentional lack of clear movement. The students should refer to the vocabulary when they discuss their style of Minimalism. They should produce at least 2 paragraphs.


High School Lesson Plans


Goals:

High School Students of all Levels will be able to do the following:

  • Identify the principles of design used in the artwork;
  • Identify the elements of design used in the artwork;
  • Students will describe what minimalism is in artwork;
  • Students will identify and describe symmetry and rhythm within artwork;
  • Students will identify and describe movement and balance within artwork;
  • Students will identify the minimalism in Otis Jones’s artwork;
  • Students will identify meaning within minimalist artwork;
  • Students will create a minimalist piece of art.

Texas High School TEKS:

Art Level I, Level II, Level III, and Level IV


Level I:

  • §117.302.c.1.A / B / C / D
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • consider concepts and ideas from direct observation, original sources, experiences, and imagination for original artwork;
      • identify and understand the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, form, space, and value, as the fundamentals of art in personal artwork;
      • identify and understand the principles of design, including emphasis, repetition/pattern, movement/rhythm, contrast/variety, balance, proportion, and unity, in personal artwork;
      • make judgments about the expressive properties such as content, meaning, message, and metaphor of artwork using art vocabulary accurately.
  • §117.302.c.2.A / D / F
    • Creative Expression:
      • use visual solutions to create original artwork by problem solving through direct observation, original sources, experiences, narrations, and imagination;
      • create original artwork to communicate thoughts, feelings, ideas, or impressions;
      • demonstrate effective use of art media and tools in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, fiber art, design, and digital art and media.
  • §117.302.c.4.A / B / D
    • Critical Evaluation and Response
      • interpret, evaluate, and justify artistic decisions in artwork by self, peers, and other artists such as that in museums, local galleries, art exhibits, and websites;
      • evaluate and analyze artwork using a verbal or written method of critique such as describing the artwork, analyzing the way it is organized, interpreting the artist’s intention, and evaluating the success of the artwork;
      • select and analyze original artwork, portfolios, and exhibitions to form precise conclusions about formal qualities, historical and cultural contexts, intentions, and meanings.

Level II:

  • §117.303.c.1.A / B / C / D
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • use visual comparisons to illustrate concepts and ideas from direct observation, original sources, experiences, narration, and imagination for original artworks;
      • identify and apply the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, form, space, and value, as the fundamentals of art in personal artworks;
      •  identify and apply the principles of design, including emphasis, repetition/pattern, movement/rhythm, contrast/variety, balance, proportion, and unity in personal artworks;
      • explore suitability of art media and processes to express specific ideas such as content, meaning, message, appropriation, and metaphor relating to visual themes of artworks using art vocabulary accurately.
  • §117.303.c.2.A / D  /  F
    • Creative Expression:
      • create original artwork using multiple solutions from direct observation, original sources, experiences, and imagination in order to expand personal themes that demonstrate artistic intent;
      •  create original artwork to communicate thoughts, feelings, ideas, or impressions;
      • select from a variety of art media and tools to communicate specific ideas in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, fiber art, jewelry, mixed media, photography, and digital art and media.
  • §117.303.c.4.A / B
    • Critical Evaluation and Response:
      • interpret, evaluate, and justify artistic decisions in artwork by self, peers, and other artists such as that in museums, local galleries, art exhibits, and websites;
      • evaluate and analyze artwork using a method of critique such as describing the artwork, analyzing the way it is organized, interpreting the artist’s intention, and evaluating the success of the artwork;

Level III:

  • §117.304.c.1.A / B / C
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • analyze visual characteristics of sources to illustrate concepts, demonstrate flexibility in solving problems, create multiple solutions, and think imaginatively;
      • compare and contrast the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, form, space, and value, as the fundamentals of art in personal artwork;
      • compare and contrast the principles of design, including emphasis, repetition/pattern, movement/rhythm, contrast/variety, balance, proportion, and unity, in personal artwork;
  •  §117.304.c.2.A / D / F
    • Creative Expression:
      • create original artwork using multiple solutions from direct observation, original sources, experiences, and imagination in order to expand personal themes that demonstrate artistic intent;
      • create original artwork to communicate thoughts, feelings, ideas, or impressions;
      • select from a variety of art media and tools to express intent in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, fiber art, design, digital art and media, photography, jewelry, and mixed media.
  • §117.304.c.4.A / B / C / F
    • Critical Evaluation and Response:
      • interpret, evaluate, and justify artistic decisions in artwork such as that in museums, local galleries, art exhibits, and websites based on evaluation of developmental progress, competency in problem solving, and a variety of visual ideas;
      • evaluate and analyze artwork using a method of critique such as describing the artwork, analyzing the way it is organized, interpreting the artist’s intention, and evaluating the success of the artwork;
      • analyze personal artwork in order to create a written response such as an artist’s statement reflecting intent, inspiration, the elements of art and principles of design within the artwork, and measure of uniqueness;
      • select and analyze original artwork, portfolios, and exhibitions to demonstrate innovation and provide examples of in-depth exploration of qualities such as aesthetics; formal, historical, and cultural contexts; intentions; and meanings.

Level IV:

  • §117.305.c.1.A / B / C / D
    • Foundations: Observation and Perception:
      • consider concepts and themes for personal artwork that integrate an extensive range of visual observations, experiences, and imagination;
      • compare and contrast the elements of art, including line, shape, color, texture, form, space, and value, as the fundamentals of art in personal artwork;
      • compare and contrast the principles of design, including emphasis, repetition/pattern, movement/rhythm, contrast/variety, balance, proportion, and unity, in personal artwork;
      • discriminate between art media and processes to express complex visual relationships such as content, meaning, message, and metaphor using extensive art vocabulary.
  • §117.305.c.2 D
    • Creative Expression:
      • create original artwork to communicate thoughts, feelings, ideas, or impressions;
  • §117.305.c.4.  B / C
    • Critical Evaluation and Response:
      • evaluate and analyze artwork using a method of critique such as describing the artwork, analyzing the way it is organized, interpreting the artist’s intention, and evaluating the success of the artwork;
      • analyze personal artwork in order to create a written response such as an artist’s statement reflecting intent, inspiration, the elements of art and principles of design within the artwork, and the measure of uniqueness;

High School Art Activity


Questions for High School Students:

  1. Examine Otis Jones’s Blue with Four White Squares. Identify where each element of art is located in the art.
  2. Examine Otis Jones’s Blue with Four White Squares. Identify where each principle of art is located in the art.
  3. Did Otis Jones successfully create a minimalist artwork? Why or why not?
  4. How does Otis Jones’s symmetrically placed white squares imply imaginary shapes?
    1. If lines are drawn to connect the white squares, the blue rectangle becomes three proportionate rectangles.
  5. How does Otis Jones’s use of distress enhance this work?
  6. Would this composition still appeal to the viewer if the canvas had not been distressed, i.e. with evenly colored shapes?

Activity: High School Fine Arts

  • Activity Setting: Classroom and/or outdoor location
  • Materials: Drawing paper, construction paper, glue sticks, scissors, acrylic paint, plastic utensils
  • Subject: Art History, Minimalism, 2D Composition, Shapes, Elements and Principles of Design
  • Texas TEKS: Art Level I, Level II, Level III, and Level IV
  • Duration: Single Day Project

Students will study Otis Jones’ Blue with Four White Squares. The class will create a Minimalist artwork that focuses on asymmetrical and symmetrical shapes and rhythm. First, the students will each receive a piece of white drawing paper and different colors of construction paper. Using scissors, students will cut various sized shapes from the construction paper. Next, they will glue the shapes to the drawing paper to create an interesting composition that uses rhythm as well as symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes. The shapes can overlap, but the students should avoid placing all of their shapes in one area.

Once the shapes are glued to the drawing paper, and the teacher has approved of the design, the students can begin the painting stage. The students will receive acrylic paint and either a plastic spoon or a fork from the teacher. The students will dip the fork or spoon into the paint and use it as a “paintbrush”. The goal is for the student to paint various sized shapes with their fork or spoon that exhibits rhythm as well as symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes. The students should also incorporate movement and balance by introducing lines with the “paintbrush”. The painted shapes can overlap the construction paper. While the composition should be up to the artist, the students should try to create some sort of meaning in their composition. This can help them better understand the concept of minimalism. When the students have finished painting, the student will clean their desk, throw away the fork/spoon, and place the artwork on the drying rack.


Activity: High School Art History

  • Activity Setting: Classroom
  • Materials: Pencil/ Pen on Paper or Word Document
  • Subject: Art History, Minimalism, 2D Composition, Shapes, Elements and Principles of Design
  • Texas TEKS: Art Level I, Level II, Level III, and Level IV
  • Duration: Single Day Project

Students will make an artist statement that explains how they used symmetry, rhythm, color, and movement in the artwork. The students should refer to the vocabulary when they discuss their style of Minimalism. The students will also answer in their statement: What inspiration did they draw from Otis Jones? The total length should be at least 2 pages.


You will can see this artwork in-person in the Tyler Museum of Art’s exhibition Building a Legacy III: Selections from the Permanent Collection. The exhibit celebrates the museum’s 50th anniversary and will display various art movements, styles, and mediums. The show is currently open and will close on May 1, 2022.

For more educational resources created by the Tyler Museum of Art, visit our YouTube page by clicking on the YouTube button or clicking the link below.

If you use or references this lesson plan, please leave a comment with your feedback.

Thank you for visiting the Tyler Museum of Art’s Education Blog!

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