Using Tangle Art to Teach Line and Color

Tangle Art Student copy

Last week I shared with you how I discovered the relatively new artistic genre of tangle art and how I reclassified it, in my own mind at least, from the exclusive domain of Zen Buddhism.

As an art teacher at a Christian school, I felt that this was just what I’d been looking for. In a previous post, I described a lesson that I developed to teach 6th graders about the elements of line and color. I had been looking for a project for 7th and 8th graders that would let me review the elements of line and color and challenge them to use these elements in a little more advanced way. Middle school students might be very long on creativity, but their art skills just don’t allow them to produce work as sophisticated as they would like. Consequently, I think they often see the disparity between what they can conceive and what they can produce and come to the mistaken decision that “they just aren’t any good at art.” By using this very graphic and abstract approach I was hopeful that they might produce some exciting original work.

After reviewing the basic design elements during which I incorporated the principle of pattern, I gave each student five, four-and-a-half inch squares of paper suitable for mixed media and guided them through the traditional steps for creating a tangle tile.

  • Using a pencil, lightly draw an inner frame or border around the edge of the paper tile.
  • Continuing with a pencil, divide the space inside the frame or border into four sections.
  • Switch to a black permanent ink pen or marker, and begin to fill each section with any pattern of lines or shapes. Lots of examples and diagrams helps to spur their imagination.

I ask them to consider at this point that those first pencil lines are only guides to planning the composition. They might be erased later when they are no longer needed or they may be integrated into the composition. I make a spiritual application that this is just like the invisible lines and boundaries that God has established to direct our lives so that we can fulfill our unique destinies and to keep us out of trouble as well.

After the tiles are finished we set them aside while I present the traditional color schemes of monochromatic, analogous, triad, complimentary, and analogous plus compliment. I know there are several more, but this seems enough for them to grasp at this point. We also take a session to do some exercises with soft and oil pastel, colored art pencils, watercolor pencils, and art markers. With each medium we explore their unique potential for layering colors, blending, and general management.

After the sessions on color schemes and drawing mediums, the student choses a different scheme and different medium for each of their five tiles and adds color. The end results were very satisfying, and I felt satisfied that I had presented some good, solid information in a creative way that challenged and excited them.I thought the results were wonderful, and I hope you enjoy this small sampling.

2 responses to “Using Tangle Art to Teach Line and Color

    • Thank you so much. I thought carefully and prayerfully how to explain the distinction without causing offense. It was so good of you to respond and thanks too for taking time to read my blog.

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