Lesson 11

The Art of Construction

Art Projects for Primary School Students by Raquel Redmond

Chroma Art supplies, chromaonline.com

Chroma2 paint, from Chroma  Australia has been used in this painting tutorial.

Art Technique

3D construction and painting

Age Group

6 to 15 years


A practical experience to build a 3D structure with the option to then paint/draw from the original construction used as a still life.


2 sessions with the option for a third session should you wish to use the construction as a still life.

Room arrangement

The first task for the teacher will be to address and establish an appropriate work area. (pic 1)



  • a variety of materials such as pieces of cardboard, timber and dowelling, according to the number of students
  • pre-cut small pieces of timber in a rangeof shapes and balsa wood, if budget allows
  • a bunch of pre-cut sticks (dowelling) to share among the group
  • paddle pop sticks to share
  • 1 plastic or polystyrene tray per student (approximately 30 x 40cm)
  • 1 piece of rag per student for cleaning hands and the work area
  • 1 pair of scissors per student (if able touse unsupervised)
  • 1 roll of jute per group
  • 1litre of Chroma2 thick glue for the group to share


  • 1 x 2 litre Chroma2 paint in the following colours: warm and cool red, warm and cool blue, warm and cool yellow, black and white. This set of paint should be sufficient quantity to supply a class of 25 students for one year and can be used across a variety of different art techniques.
  • 1 medium size paint brush per student
  • 1 small size paint brush per student
  • 1 piece of rag per student for cleaning of hands and work area
  • 2 containers of water per group
  • 2 ice cube trays or small plastic containers with lids per group. Refer to the video to get ideas on how to dispense paint to the class.

Additonal materials:

  • 1 x A3 sheet of cartridge paper per student
  • 1 box of dry pastels or crayons per group
  • 1 can of hair spray to fix the dry pastels
This project has been designed to suit normal classroom conditions and illustrates how the classroom can be adapted to create working space required.

Paint notes

Paint spilt on garments will come off when washed by hand. Rinse the garment in cold running water and rub the area where the paint has dried. Soak for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight in a laundry tub or a bucket, add 2 table spoons of laundry detergent and enough water to cover the garment. After soaking, rub off the remaining paint in the sudsy water and hey presto... a clean shirt!

What is construction?

construction imagesconstruction-01

The art of construction offers opportunities for students to think three dimensionally—to experiment, investigate and to invent. Engaging in construction is a creative process that also offers the students opportunities to be inventive, imaginative and resourceful in the way they use new and recycled materials. By engaging in this project students will develop new ideas, find new ways of expression and develop their own techniques in handling different materials.

This construction project can be inspired by architecture – The Urban Landscape – by joining/gluing together a variety of timber pieces or cardboard in combination with craft paper, jute, sticks and other materials, assembled on a wooden or cardboard base.

Themes for ‘Construction’ can also originate from the depths of ones imagination by exploring ideas on fantasy or surrealistic representations of animals such as gargoyles, dragons and dinosaurs. Other themes may be based on people, birds, animals or abstract and organic forms including plant life.


This project presents the opportunity for three dimensional assemblage—different from painting and drawing which are predominently executed on a flat surface. Construction work is stimulating as students use new and recycled materials, to model ideas, experiment, investigate and to invent and build the shape.

The best approach to any of these projects is to start by watching the corresponding video. Please refer to the following link to make use of our video on Construction. Use it to motivate your students and as a starting point for them to think of ideas that they may like to develop.

Visual References

After the project has been introduced the class will have to decide on the theme that they will adopt:

• If the theme is on architecture, buildings and structures – refer to the Creative Buildings of Architects: Frank Gehry and Gaudi:

• If the theme is on people or animals: refer to artists such as Picasso, Miro and also research gargoyles on old buildings:

Room set-up

The first task for the teacher will be to address and establish an appropriate work area. (pic 1)

Create the space needed within the room by arranging the desks in groups of 4 or 6, covering them with small tabloid size sheets of newspaper or cheap plastic table cloths. It is important to arrange the desks so the students can work in groups and have easy access to the shared art materials.

Sourcing materials

Materials for construction projects are easy to find and generally free or available at a low cost. (pic 3)

A list of recyclable materials should be sent home with each student to source the items required for this project. Please see our list of recyclable materials.

Photocopy the list and tick what you would like each of the students to bring from home.


  • Prepare all the materials in advance—cut the cardboard into small squares of about 6 x 6 inches, as well as some long and rectangular lengths etc… so that the students will have manageable sized pieces to cut into. If working with timber, you will have to find small pre-cut pieces of timber at Reverse Garbage Centres or ask for offcuts from carpenters and craftsmen who may work with wood.
  • Older students should sort and prepare all these materials as part of their learning experience.
  • If you are working with young children, invite two or three parent volunteers to assist in the classroom.

First Session

It may be beneficial to replay the video in stages so students have a good idea of what the different steps and techniques involved in the construction process are.

First, students are involved in creating a construction using pieces of timber or cardboard. To achieve their 3D constructions they have to engage in tasks that involve planning, cutting, joining and gluing the timber and/or cardboard together. (pic 4)

This will allow students to learn joining techniques that enable them to make a free standing structure. Students also engage in problem solving, as they have to make decisions such as: how to aesthetically and structurally balance their artwork, how to create variety and how to create a visually interesting piece by using contrasting size, textures, repetition and colour.

Young children need to be shown these techniques step by step. When they have understood how to join the timber and/or cardboard pieces, they will then instinctively start making decisions and applying their acquired knowledge, developing their projects in a creative and imaginative manner.

Once the construction has been designed and assembled allow students the option of the painting their 3D construction in bright colours. (pic 6)

Second session

Painting and drawing from Constructions that children have previously made. The Constructions are placed as a ‘still-life’ group on the table to draw from and to paint from. (pic 5)

Students are encouraged to interpret their 3D works into 2D works such as paintings or drawings. This gives the students an opportunity to look at their work in a different way, to think originally and to create unique images based on their own 3D creations. (pic 5)

1. Room set-up and preparation
2. Art material set up
3. An assortment of recycled materials laid out in trays, ready for selection
4. Select the materials you wish to use to create your construction
5. Students creating and assembling their construction
6. Students drawing in soft pastels using their ‘construction’ as a still life model
7. Student painting their assembled construction


Aditional Notes:
For information on where to buy Chroma2 paint, visit our Brava Art Paint Suppliers on our website and contact the suppliers to get the best prices.

For more information on recyclable materials, refer to the Teachers Help Page.