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Do Something about… School Violence Art Curricula Unit Day 4: Shapes and Composition with Goya & Picasso


Art, Social Studies  


9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Do Something about…
School Violence Art Curricula Unit
Day 4: Shapes and Composition with Goya & Picasso
By – Do Something, Inc. /
Primary Subject – Art
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies
Grade Level – 9-12

Do Something about…
School Violence
Art Curricula
15-Day Unit

The following lesson is the fourth lesson of a 15-day
School Violence Art Curricula Unit from Do Something, Inc.
Other lessons in this unit are as follows:

Day 1: Shape and Feeling
Students explore the use of abstract shapes and the feelings they evoke
Day 2: The Emotional Aspects Of Color
The students learn about the emotional and physiological affects of color
Day 3: Jackson Pollack – Lines Convey Emotion
Jackson Pollack – Students explore the use of line to convey emotion
Day 4: Goya and Picasso – Shapes And Composition
(See lesson below.)
Goya and Picasso – The students w explore two paintings and their use of shapes
Day 5: Power Of Language
Students will explore the power of words in art
Day 6: Tree Of Decisions
Students explore different choices and outcomes and use the branching pattern
Day 7: Conversations And Arguments With Lines
Students learn to use visual language to have a conversation
Day 8: Keith Haring Figures Part I – Conflict Resolution
Students work together to create a mural modeling cooperation and conflict resolution
Day 9: Keith Haring Figures Part II
Day 10: Keith Haring Figures Part III
Day 11: Keith Haring Figures Part IV
Day 12: Safe Carriers Part I
Students use modern packaging materials to create a safe place
Day 13: Safe Carriers Part II
Day 14: Safe Carriers Part III
Day 15: Final Project
Students create artwork based on their knowledge of line, shape, color, words and emotion


More student resources for this cause are at:


For more Service-Learning Curricula check out:

Day 4: Shapes and Composition with Goya & Picasso


    The students will explore two famous paintings and their use of shapes.


  1. Print or project on a white board Francisco Goya’s TheThird of May, 1814 .
  2. Discuss the painting by giving the students background information about the content as well as compositional elements. The painting is about the massacre the French soldiers carried out against the Spanish people during the Spanish Revolution. How are the French soldiers depicted? What are they wearing? Can we see their faces? How about the Spaniards? What about the central figure? What is he wearing? Can we see his face? How does his pose affect the way we feel about him? What figure in history does it remind them of? (Christ) Can they see the stigmata on his hands? Who is the aggressor and who is the victim or victims here? How is light used in the painting to focus our attention? How is color used? The painting is quite large: 8 feet 9 inches by 13 feet 4 inches. How does the huge size affect our experience of it? A basic discussion of these elements can be found at
  3. Place a large sheet of tracing paper over the reproduction. Ask the students to point out the shapes and lines that stand out in the painting. Trace them in black marker. How do these shapes and areas of light and dark focus our attention on certain areas of the painting? What is the area that the artist wants us to be drawn to?
  4. Ask the students to pair off and work together. Hand out reproductions or prints of Goya’s painting and have them take turns tracing lines and shapes that they respond to.
  5. How do the paintings change when some of the elements are not included? How do the artists use strong diagonal lines to enhance the drama of the work?
  6. Now project or put up Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, 1937 Go through the same exercise with this painting, pointing out how elements are massed together to create diagonal and triangular shapes. What do they think about some of the images included? How do they make them feel? Explain that the painting was Picasso’s reaction to the German’s bombing of the small village of Guernica on April 27th, 1937. This painting is even larger than Goya’s painting: 11 feet 6 inches high by 25 feet 8 inches. A good resource can be found at
  7. Have the students repeat the tracing exercise with Picasso’s painting. What are the images that their eyes are drawn to? Are these people the victims or the aggressors? Why is the painting in black and white? (Picasso was reacting to the photographs of the atrocities in the newspapers.) Does this change their reaction to the painting? How?
  8. Discuss how both artists use strong diagonal lines and shapes to enhance the meaning of their paintings. How can they use similar techniques in their own compositions to reinforce the feelings of safety versus fear?

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