Grade Level



8 class periods, 40 minute periods


Drawing paper, a variety of stencils, powdered graphite, artist chamoise (or recycle an old cotton t-shirt), a nice quality paper cut to approximately 16×20 inches, a variety of erasure types- especially erasure pencils! stencils *Tip (graphite powder can be bought in a hardware store and is often sold as a lock lubricant



Lesson Objectives

Students will create an original abstract composition.
Students will demonstrate how to create value gradients.
Students will use use created and bought stencils.

Introductory Activity

Student are introduced to value and value’s importance to artists. Students create a value scales in their sketchbook with cross hatching and then with powdered graphite and artist chamoise after a teacher demo. It’s important to teach students how to control the media, as powder graphite can be very messy. I usually leave a small amount in a paper cup with a spoon. Students are taught to take a piece of printer paper to spoon a tablespoon of powder. I also show them how to fold paper and return the powder to the cup for clean up.
The next period I show them how to use a piece of torn paper as a stencil, applying value gradients over the edge that is carefully pinned down. Student practice this on a practice sheet of paper.

Lesson Process

After the two periods of introductory activity, students are then invited to start take a large sheet of paper and place newspaper underneath. Students are encouraged to look at what was successful on their practice sheet and consider replicating what was successful on a larger scale. Students are encouraged to think about overlap, variety, texture and how they may use and balance these elements in an improvised composition.


value, repetition, balance, gradation, stencil, harmony


I don’t have any particular resources but use your favorite examples of value and abstract art works.

Author & Website/Blog

Supporting Images