A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words



After being introduced to selected pieces of Keith Haring's work, students brainstormed for words and concepts that they wished to illustrate in a Haring-esque style. Attention was given to color, composition, and how well the word was illustrated by the student-artists' depiction of it.


For students to:
Learn about Keith Haring.

Learn to express a thought or concept in the most economical way possible.

To demonstrate knowledge of color, contrast, design, and composition through their execution of this painting.


Posters, postcards, clippings from magazines collected by the teacher.
Keith Haring's book, "I Wish I Didn't Have to Sleep".


12"x18" White paper
Painting supplies


1) Look at selected works of Keith Haring and talk about the artist's life.

2) Brainstorm for words to illustrate, emphasizing words that have an emotiona impact (ie: family, imagination, etc.)

3) Practice drawing figures in the style of Keith Haring and then submit a final sketch of the word you would like to illustrate.

4) Sketch is transferred toa larger paper with pencil.

5) Paint the figure(s) and the background, filling the entire surface with color.

6) Use markers to outline the figures and to add energy lines.


Give the class an oportunity to view the finished works without revealing the concept that he or she was illustrating. Each student can ask their classmates to indentify the message within their painting. Words of praise and constructive criticism are exchanged.

What made you select the colors in your painting?
How do they relate to the word you are illustrating?
Describe any personal experiences you brought with you in the choices you made regarding your painting.
What reaction do you anticipate others will have when they see your work?
Will it remind them of something personal as well?


After the paintings are complete, they can be displayed in the hallway for all to enjoy. Pencils can be provided so that other students can respond to what the paintings are illustrating as well as comment on the paintings.

A further extension is that students can donate their paintings to another classroom or administrative office. In our school, our guidance counselor, Mrs. June Horton, has a conference room with which she and the principal use for parent conferences, peer meetings with groups of sutdents, counseling sessions, and lunches for our "Students of the Month". The students you see in these photographs donated their paintings for this room. The paintings were framed and a plaque with their "word" was added. Parents and other administrators have often commented on the artwork in this room and how it illustrates some of the positive attributes that we wish for our students.

About Helen Londergan

Helen Londergan is an art teacher.

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