Although craft and process art is fantastic for kids as a home educator and teacher I’ve always loved to learn about different artists from around the world and in different cultures and times. One of the ways we explore it is through “copycat art”, using techniques and examples of their work to produce our own. This art project is inspired by the modern artist Frank Stella and his first series of paintings The Black Paintings to create an optical illusion.
Frank Stella was born in 1936 in the USA, early in his 20s he started to paint on untreated canvas but unlike many artists, his subjects weren’t portraits or landscapes he embraced minimalist art and the first series of paintings were The Black Paintings.
Frank Stella’s Black Paintings
The “black paintings” were Frank Stella’s first artworks and MOMA in New York loved them they bought some to exhibit as examples of the new minimalist art movement.
These paintings originally were on square and rectangular canvases and used just black acrylic paint and thin white lines to create the artwork. At first, the images were very straight with the lines following a set pattern, but over time they started to change with sections at angles.
With the angles, the 2-dimensional images start to gain a 3d perspective that appears like optical illusions. There is no information that we have found about this being intentional, but as we looked at those early works it is something that we took away from it.
Inspired by this we have a simple kids art project to do as part of our greater Frank Stella Artist Study.
Frank Stella Art Project
Inspired by the black paintings and our interpretation of it creating an optical illusion of 3D we have a fun and simple art project that you and your kids can do.
- Artist Paper
- Black Marker Pen
How to Create your Frank Stella Black Painting Art Project
- Lay your hand and arm on the paper and draw around with a pencil
2. With the ruler mark out regular marks along the long edge of the paper (we did ours at 5mm intervals or there abouts
3. Join up the lines on either side of the page leaving the space inside your tracing of the hand as blank
4. Now using curves* join the lines together either side of the fingers and thumb then across the hand
5. Once you have everything joined together use the black marker and colour in every other line so that you have alternate black and white lines
*Although at this stage Frank Stella didn’t use lines in his work, in a later series The Protractor Series and further work curves were a feature so we incorporated them into this art project
Discover More about Frank Stella
Here are a few more links to information about the artist Frank Stella that you can explore with your kids
- Tate Modern Who is Frank Stella? there is examples of his work and the inspiration behind our 3D with the 3rd painting down which appears to be 3D when viewed
- Britanica Encyclopedia – Frank Stella Biography
- MOMA – Frank Stella explore the artwork sections as there are examples of finished work but also sketches that he did