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Visual Arts

Jacob Lawrence used the artist’s language of line, shape, color, and pattern to portray his subjects. His style is the way in which he used these elements.

Creating community collages: see Children’s Art. Students can work together to create a group collage of their neighborhood. Cut bold, brightly colored shapes representing buildings, cars, buses, trucks, and signs. Combine these elements, overlapping shapes and colors, and creating patterns, as Jacob Lawrence did in his depictions of his community.

Repeated lines, shapes, colors create a pattern. Look at Panels 1 and 3 of The Migration Series. How many patterns can you find? Of lines? Of shapes? Of color?

Look at the figures in Ironers and in the Harriet Tubman Series, Panel 4. Which figures look heavy, solid? Why? Which figures are light and lively? How did Jacob Lawrence achieve these effects? Look at the shapes and colors.

Jacob Lawrence was a master at using poses and gestures to convey mood. Are the figures in Ironers happy and joyful? What visual clues does the artist give to suggest state of mind? Look at the shape of their shoulders, the position of their heads, and the lines of their arms.

Lawrence often used diagonal lines to suggest motion. How does he do that in Ironers? Find the lines and trace the direction of movement. Compare the use of diagonal lines in this picture with Harriet Tubman Series, Panel 4.

Looking at these two images, see how the artist used the picture’s space. Which figures fill the space? Which figures move through the space? In which picture is there more space? How do you know?

Look at Play Street and Studio Corner. In these pictures Lawrence used diagonal lines to create perspective, suggesting deep space. Compare them with Over the Line or Munich Olympic Games.Is the space deep or flattened? Are the forms and figures inside the space or pushed forward to the surface? How does your eye move around the different images?

Jacob Lawrence told stories through his art, unifying a series visually through repeated colors, shapes, and patterns. Think of a family event or story, and divide it into its beginning, middle, and end. Draw your story in a series of sheets or panels.

Lawrence frequently conveyed meaning through his placement and poses of figures. Look at The Migration Series, Panel 19. Where are the figures located? How do the figures relate to the picture space? Lawrence used the composition symbolically to express the idea of discrimination. Look at Confrontation at the Bridge and Card Game. What is happening? How do you know? What clues has the artist provided?

 

 

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