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Thinking Routine of the Week: Colour-Shape-Line

Colours Shapes Lines



This fantastic routine kicks off Day 2 of our ‘Visible Thinking in the Museum’ training.

The routine helps people make detailed observations by drawing their attention to the formal aspects of an artwork – colours, shapes and lines – and giving them specific categories of things to look for.

It can easily be used on its own or prior to having a discussion about an artwork with another thinking routine routine.

It works particularly well with abstract or conceptual art by giving participants an entry point into discussing and demystifying the artwork.

We like to split our group up into 3 parts and give each group one of the aspects to think about. We then come together to find out what they have discovered about the colours, shapes and lines.

An extension to the routine can be to ask the group then to pick one of the elements (one colour, one type of line or shape) and to then focus on thinking about how that element contributes to how the artwork feels and how it looks. And to think about how it contributes to the ‘story’ and the ‘power’ of the artwork. We then share their discussions with the group as a whole.

Have you used Colours-Shapes-Lines before? Let me know in the comments below!