Jacob Lawrence-Tool Project

I got the idea for this project from a design lesson I did while in art school years ago. It is a great way to introduce the concept of positive and negative space. If you are not familiar with Jacob Lawrence he was an African American artist who used the working man and tools for subjects in many of his paintings. Thus the connection to him with the use of tools as the subject matter for this project.

 12x18 black construction paper (I like to use tru-ray fade resistant construction paper from Nasco as it is a real true black paper that gives good contrast)
white poster board (1/2 of a sheet)
glue sticks
white colored pencil
tools (you can use any type of tools you want-kitchen, garden, workshop, etc.)

I usually use workshop tools as there is alot of variety of sizes and shapes which makes for a more interesting composition.

First I have students trace out several different tools onto the black construction paper using the white colored pencil. I stress picking a variety of different sizes and shapes.

Then the students carefully cut around each tool.

This is the part when I really have them take their time and play around with some different compositions. I talk about the negative space and making that as interesting as the positive space. I suggest they try at least 5 different layouts before they choose the one they like the best.

Then I have them carefully glue each tool down.