High School Art Lesson: NeoPopRealist Chess Board

NeoPopRealist Chess Board

Submitted by: NeoWhimsies

Lesson: NeoPopRealism Chess Board

Grades: Can be adapted for 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Duration: One to two days



This abstract lesson plan uses four concepts: Questioning, reflection, art production, and contextual information and research.



This lesson plan encourages imaginative thinking and creativity and will lead students to innovative solutions and prepare for critical thinking skills in different subject areas. After creating and analyzing a creative work of art, students are lead to a place where they acquire a deeper understanding of expression. Students will participate in their own learning.


chessboard Objectives: Students will

  • Use their imagination to create art using pen and ink.

  • Use the NeoPopRealism style of art when creating their art.

  • Create their art from patterns and squares on 8.5"x11" (21.5 x 28 cm) paper.

  • Use this pattern of squares to create their own chess board.

  • Increase their measuring and estimating skills.

  • Include themselves in their art through symbols and design.

  • Create their chess boards on posterboard or white cardboard.

  • Finish their art by protecting their work with spray varnish or fixative.


  • Thick, White Cardboard. (square shapes) for creating their chess boards

  • White Drawing Paper. 8.5"x11" (21.5 x 28 cm). Trim the paper to form a square 8.5x8.5" (21.5x21.5 cm) only if you are using your image for an actual chess board.

  • Black Thin Ink Pen. 0.7 mm (Do not use a marker)

  • Varnish Spray. to protect the ink for the chess pieces

The Procedure:

Day 1.

- Explain that NeoPopRealism involves contrast and simplicity in line and color. The creator of this style says that NeoPopRealism is sophisticated and philosophical in nature. Tell students they will transfer this idea in their pen and ink pattern drawings.


- Students will use pencil to lightly draw the lines inside each square. Once they are finished and they are happy with their lines, they may use ink to draw over their lines. The teacher will then demonstrate how repetitive patterns and lines can change a shape's character. Inside the lines, students will draw different patterns inside their lines (See illustrations below)

  • Have students divide the 8.5"x11" (21.5 x 28 cm) piece of paper into small squares as shown in the illustrations below. Tell students they are not allowed to use a ruler. They should "eyeball" where the squares should go.

  • When students draw lines and patterns, they use their imagination as an unconscious process. It forces them in the right-brained mode.

  • Students are told not to copy and to create new compositions from their imagination. As they are drawing they create additional imaginative patterns.

  • Below are lesson samples. Tell students they are not allowed to copy other artists drawings but they can examine the examples.

  • Unless using your art for an actual chess board, avoid using a square-shaped paper. The square paper will be too limiting for students and put their creativity in a "prison" of space. Choosing a rectangle-shaped paper gives students opportunities to expand their design beyond a square.

  • You may have to nudge students into the abstract realm. Many feel that if their drawings don't look exactly like an object, they aren't good artists. Their art will feel more like doodling.

  • Tell students to make as many unique abstract images as they can. No two squares will be alike. Tell them to keep in mind that their unique squares will form one image when comined together.

  • See expanded visual instructions at Neopoprealism's art lesson plans blog


Click on the image above for full size.


Day 2

- Review how to play a chess game and its brief history with students (see below).

- Have students measure and divide the thick cardboard into 64 same-size squares, as if it would be the chess board. (Again, don't use a ruler to draw the lines. Only use the ruler to measure where your lines will be placed.)

- Have student fill 32 squares with unique, repetitive patterns and designs (See the illustration below). See more at Neopoprealism's abstract ink pen/ pattern drawing lesson.

- When finished, students will spray the surface with a clear vanish that will protect and harden the surface. The paper must be completely dry before students can play chess on their boards. Students can bring in chess pieces from home to play. An extension would be to create their own chess pieces in clay.

- Critique and compare students' chess boards. Display the best work.

- Additional resources can can be given to students who really want to learn this game (find online information about local chess clubs).


About chess game:

Chess is known as "the game of kings." Because the brain works like a muscle, it needs exercise like any muscle to be healthy. Chess is a mentally challenging game because it exercises both sides of the brain. Chess can greatly increases originality and creativity. It improves memory, problem-solving skills, reading skills, and concentration. Scientist have found that playing the game encourages the growth of dendrites. Chess develops parts of the brain responsible for planning, judgment, and self-control. Chess is a two-player strategy board game played on a square checkered gameboard with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight (20 x 20cm) grid. Chess is one of the world's most popular games played by millions of people online, at home, in clubs, by correspondence, and in tournaments.


.Each player begins the game with sixteen pieces. Pieces include one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. Each of the six piece types moves differently. Pieces are used to attack and capture the opponent's pieces, with the objective to 'checkmate' the opponent's king by placing it under an inescapable threat of capture. In addition to checkmate, the game can be won by the voluntary resignation of the opponent, which typically occurs when too many pieces are lost, or if checkmate appears unavoidable. A game may also result in a draw in several ways, where neither player wins. This usually happens when both sides have few pieces left on the board.



The history of chess:

"The life of chess spans over a 1500 year period. The earliest predecessors of the game originated in India, before the 6th century AD. From India, the game spread to Persia. When the Arabs conquered Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently spread to Southern Europe. In Europe, chess evolved into roughly its current form in the 15th century. In the second half of the 19th century, modern chess tournament play began, and the first world Chess Championship was held in 1886. The 20th century saw great leaps forward in chess theory and the establishment of the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Developments in the 21st century include use of computers for analysis, which originated in the 1970s with the first programmed chess games on the market. Online gaming appeared in the mid-1990s." [1]




Nadia Russ, Mick Jagger, ink/paper, 1994 NeoPopRealism

About the NeoPopRealism drawing style:

Abstract art are images that have been filtered from the real world. These filters reshape the natural world to elicite emotion or purpose. Nonobjective abstraction derives itself from a reognizable subject but does not realistically illustrate it.


Last century abstract art coincided with advances in the industrial world, technology, science, and urban life. Abstraction morphed into formal terms such as reduction, minimalism, and cubism. Some artists reduced their forms to basic geometric designs. Nadia Russ created her art from chaos to harmonic abstractions.


NeoPopRealism was created in 1989 by Nadia Russ. Because Russ loves to draw faces, much of her abstract ink pen/ patterns drawings include portraits such as the image on the right. This drawing is meditative in that she spent some time contemplating her lines and pattern before she dres. Contemplation increases your learning and creative abilities.


You can read more about NeoPopRealism ink pen/ pattern drawing and its concept at Neopoprealism's blog.


Nadia Russ' NeoPopRealism philosophy for a happier life:

  1. Be beautiful

  2. Be creative & productive; never stop studying & learning

  3. Be peace-loving, positive-minded

  4. Do not accept communist or any other totalitarianism's philosophy

  5. Be free-minded, do the best you can to move the world to peace and harmony

  6. Be family oriented, self-disciplined

  7. Be free spirited. Follow your dreams, if they are not destructive, but constructive

  8. Believe in God. God is one, harmony, and striving for perfection

  9. Be supportive to those who needs you, be generous

  10. Create your life as a great adventurous story.

Follow‐up activities: View Nadia Russ artwork online and in books, discuss NeoPopRealism ink pen pattern drawing style. Name artists who invented new styles of visual arts. For example,  Monet created Impressionism, Dali created Surrealism, Picasso created Cubism, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns created Pop Art, Jeff Koons created Neo-Pop, and Nadia Russ created NeoPopRealism.



A book 'How to Draw NeoPopRealism Abstract Images: Ink Backgrounds', ISBN: 9780615527437 teaches step-by-step ink and pen pattern drawing.

How to Draw NeoPopRealism Abstract Images: Ink Backgrounds
ISBN: 9780615527437

*Posters and wall decals with NeoPopRealism Abstracts by Nadia Russ:

  1. Wall Decal NeoPopRealism Abstract

  2. Poster, NeoPopRealism Ink Abstract

  3. Wall Decal Nadia Russ, Selfportrait

  4. Poster NeoPopRealist Abstract by Nadia Russ

*Information on NeoPopRealism ink pen/ pattern drawing, its concept and Nadia Russ, who created this style in 1989, biography: http://neopoprealismblackwhiteink.blogspot.com/

*A book "How to Draw NeoPopRealism Abstract Images: Ink Backgrounds", ISBN: 9780615527437 teaches step-by-step ink and pen pattern drawing.


Read the art educator's book's review on her blog.

*Nadia Russ' official website: www.nadiaruss.com

Also see her book How to Draw the NeoPopRealism Abstract: Children's Guide (for elementary school). Free preview is available at Google.





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