Shapes & Angles


What's left in art when you take away anything that looks like something? Kandinsky did it---leaving color, line, shapes, and angles!


1. What makes art? What are the basic elements of any painting? Would something be art if you couldn't recognize anything in the painting? Would a painting be art if it was only lines and shapes?

2. A Russian painter asked these same questions. Wassily Kandinsky, born in Moscow on December 4, 1866, wanted to take away anything that looked like something in his art. He used color, line, shapes, and angles to create his art. He believed that feeling was art's most important element. The art that he pioneered is called Abstract. What do you think that term means?

3. If Kandinsky only used lines and shapes, then where he put those became very important. This is called the composition. The word compose is used when writing music as well as making a picture.

4. Kandinsky used music (without words) as a model for his new Abstract art. In what ways are music and art similar? Music is made of notes that are simply sound. They communicate to the listener in a different way than words do. Look at some of the modern work by Kandinsky and others. What art elements characterize their style?

5. Create Abstract art that communicates your feelings. Are you excited about an upcoming game or dance? Worried about a test? Happy that a friend is going to the movies with you? On white paper, use Crayola® Crayons to draw shapes that show your feelings.

6. Another way to make color shapes is to tear or cut construction paper with Crayola Scissors. A straight edge can help to create sharp lines and angles. Glue the shapes on paper with a Crayola Glue Stick.

7. Exchange your Shapes & Angles with a classmate. Talk about the feelings your Abstract art communicates.

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.


  • Measure all the angles in your own or Kandinsky's work. How many different angles can you find? What types of lines can you identify? Look for parallel and intersecting lines, zigzag and wavy lines. Do all the shapes you see have names? If not, invent some!
  • Cut one of your Abstract compositions into a puzzle. How difficult is it to reassemble?
  • Try making art without using color. Next try it without line, only color. Is this art? Discuss this question: Is a piece of paper art?
  • Create Shapes & Angles while listening to different types of classical music. Try a chamber piece such as Vivaldi's Four Seasons, a large orchestra work such as Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, an instrumental part of a Wagnerian opera, a Mozart piano sonata, a Chopin waltz, and a Tchaikovsky ballet such as the Firebird. What do you notice about the resulting art?
  • Older students research the time period of Kandinsky's life (1866-1944). He lived in Russia, Germany, and then fled to Paris. Study his artist and musical composer contemporaries. In what ways did the political climate affect these artists?

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

Share on Facebook


crayola supplies
  • Crayons
  • Glue Sticks
  • Pointed Tip Scissors
  • Construction Paper
household supplies
  • straight edge



  • Grades 1 to 3
  • Grades 4 to 6
  • Grades 7 to 12


  • Language Arts
  • Math
  • Visual Arts


  • Less than 1/2 hour
  • 30 to 60 minutes


  • Students identify the basic elements of abstract art and all art.

  • Students explore the work of Wassily Kandinsky and recognize his Modern style.

  • Students imitate the methods of Abstract artists to create their own art.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards