American artist, Burton Morris, Letter Art

This lesson is based off the work of an American artist, Burton Morris, whose styling is based off of action comic books and pop art. He draws simple forms or common objects using action lines (white or black) and rich colors to project energy and fun.

I adapted his art style for use with letters, especially for a child’s first name. My school age also enjoyed this project starting with a letter and then choosing to expand to do an item from their world, more in line with Burton Morris’s work. I used standard letter size construction paper sheets, but you can use smaller size paper. I would recommend using a paper heavier than standard copy paper.

  • Choose 2 complementary colors for the letter [blue/red here], a strong background color [orange] and either black or white for the middle letter.
  • To draw out the letter of your name go for more of a box style letter form. To save frustration I used scrap paper to get the desired item drawn out. This allowed children to explore a bit and not worry about it. For preschoolers who can form a letter I supported the block styling just by shadowing what they wrote either inside or outside depending on starting size. For those just learning to form letters I drew out the letter following their directions. Once children had what they wanted they then cut it out. Traced onto the colors chosen for the project was a mix of independent and supported by me. To help with tracing we often taped the letter to the paper (tape rolls on the back side of the letter pattern). Again the tracing doesn’t need to be perfect.
  • Cut out the letter. Older children can stack letter sheets and cut out 2 or 3 together.
  • Trace and cut out the other letter color.
  • Place one of the cut out letters on the black or white paper and trace slightly (1/4”) larger. Cut out.
  • From the top color of letter cut out triangles along 2 opposite side edges. DO NOT cut all around. Have younger children mark their start and stop points. The longer edges are more dramatic. For children not sure of where they wanted to cut I had them draw triangle on the scrap paper letter they used to traced with. They could imagine the result from the drawn triangles. Only the top letter will have triangles cut from it.
  • Glue the letter with the triangle cut outs onto the black or white letter. You will have the 1/4″ or so black or white edge.
  • Offset the other colored (uncut) letter so it acts like a shadow. Glue.
  • Last glue the completed letter sandwich/packet in place on the background. 
%d bloggers like this: