Art Lesson Plan: Drawing Emotions

Drawing Emotions

Submitted by: Amy Lychock Upper Perkiomen High School, Pennsburg, Pennsylvania
Unit: Drawing
Grade Level: K through 12

Students will examine how artists have expressed emotion through use of line, color and shapes.

Students will show awareness and understanding on non-objective art.

Students will explore how lines and shapes can express emotions. Students will communicate a variety of emotions using line, shape and values to create form.



12"x 18" (30.5 x 46 cm) white Drawing Paper., Drawing Pencils. (a variety of thickness and hardness levels), AquaMarkers. (and any variety of tools to created line IE: sticks and ink, Brushes. and India ink.)



A variety of non-objective art: Stuart Davis, Jackson Pollock Selections from Abstract Expressionism.


The Scream

This painting by Edvard Munch is an excellent example of showing emotion.


Stuart Davis. - The early works reproduced here show a sensitive side of Davis. The colors are wintry, the paint thickly applied. Later, when Davis discovers modernism, it is as if he embraces the logic of abstraction as an antidote to the deeper emotions of his youth.

Jackson Pollock. - With extensive knowledge of Pollock’s habits (much of it gained through interviews), his reading, his conversation, and the exhibitions he visited, the author retraces many of the far-flung sources of Pollock’s work. A wealth of comparative photographs that illustrate paintings by artists Pollock admired further explains the work of this complex, tragic, and immeasurably influential figure.

Abstract Expressionism. - Artists featured: William Baziotes, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Philip Guston, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, David Smith, Theodoros Stamos, Clyfford Still, Mark Tobey, Bradley Walter Tomlin.



  1. Discuss art prints (or slides) selected. How do these works show emotion? What emotions do you feel in viewing these works?

  2. Brainstorm on different kinds of emotion. Some emotions discussed before the students begin: Happy, sad, mad, confused, lonely, overwhelmed, etc. Discuss how line weight and types of line can convey an emotion.

  3. Demonstrate a couple of ways to show emotions listed through use of line, shape and values.

  4. Remind them they are not to draw any hearts, smiling faces, volcanoes, tear drops, etc. This causes them to think more on their line weight.


  1. Have students fold a 12X18 (30.5 x 46 cm) piece of white drawing paper so it has four sections.

  2. Have the students draw two "upbeat" emotions and two "downbeat" emotions in the four sections on the paper without using any recognizable objects. Students are only allowed to use line, shape and form (shading to show 3-D form). Show at least five different values for each emotion.

  3. Critique works - How do these exercises show emotions? What emotions did you represent? How effective are they?


  1. Did student recognize and interpret emotions in various works of art?

  2. Did student effectively use line, shape and values (a minimum of five for each emotion) to communicate emotion?



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