Mindful hands and Patterns Art Lesson

Repetition refers to one object or shape repeated, while pattern is a combination of elements or shapes repeated in a recurring and regular arrangement. Patterns appear in many art forms around the world, from geometric motifs to symmetrical patterns on blankets to the contemporary art designs. Every culture has its own distinct set of patterns that appear on textiles, architecture, masks, and other objects.However, many patterns or designs actually have meaning that add to the purpose of each item it’s placed on. These patterns are made up of shapes, so with our class we went through the meaning of each shape and where we would see these in everyday items.

There are several categories of shapes we see in every day life: Geometric, Abstract, and Organic. The most common ones we see are geometric, the ones we learn in school and see on signs and advertisements.

Squares: are reliable, give stability and suggest order.

Circles: represent completion, wholeness and harmony.

Triangles: that point up represent direction and power.

After teaching the class about these shapes and what they mean, we showed them how they can turn this into patterns. Then we began our project for the day; Mindful Hands.

Step 1: Hand each student a blank piece of paper and have them trace both hands on it horizontally. We asked that they have their classmates help them trace their non-dominant hand to promote teamwork and kindness.

Step 2: We opened the class up to discussion. What are things, feelings, emotions, etc that we want to let go of? What puts us in a bad mood or makes us unhappy? Their answers ranged from feelings of being sad or lonely to arguments or confusing math problems. We asked that they chose five and write each word on a finger of the left hand they traced. This would be the hand that is letting go of these things.

Step 3: We then asked what are things they want to hold onto? What makes them happy or feel better? How can they be a better person in school or at home? They gave us answers like kindness, friendship, love, peace, etc. We asked that these be written on the right hand, and this would become the hand of things we are holding onto.

Step 4: Now is when they were able to incorporate the patterns and shapes we learned. We asked that they decorate the palms of the hands like a mandala or just a design made of different patterns and repetitions of shapes. They were able to let their creativity roam free with this next part and use what they had learned to make meaningful designs.

Step 5: Lastly we colored in the patterns they made. Coloring is the number one exercise to promote mindfulness and relax the mind. We ended the class having them simply focus on their coloring and reflect on what they had learned.

In this class, we wanted to not only teach our students about the meanings in items they see everyday, we also wanted to allow them time to comprehend some of the emotions they feel and how to work through them. By simply acknowledging the areas that need to be “let go of” can be a good start to being mindfully aware. This allows them to grow emotionally and focus on the good things they want to hold onto. We were able to get a better understanding of how our students think and the priorities their families had instilled in them already.