Third Saturday Online: Collage and Drawing

Many of the artworks in Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem tell a personal story of artists of African descent. One way artwork can tell stories is through images and patterns (a pattern is a repeated design). Although there are many ways to understand these artworks, let’s get inspiration from three artworks in the exhibition that use pictures and patterns in unexpected ways. Then, at home, create your own artwork using magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes, and other art supplies to create a patterned collage and drawing. 

A painting of a man in a blue suit and orange tie stands in front of a sky-blue background. He has his arms down and his eyes closed. His black hair rises up from his head and swirls around in a pattern of black clouds that swirl behind and in front of him.
Kehinde Wiley, Conspicuous Fraud Series #1 (Eminence), 2001, oil on canvas, 72 1/2 x 72 1/2 in., The Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum purchase made possible by a gift from Anne Ehrenkranz, 2002.10.14, © Kehinde Wiley, Courtesy of the artist, Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California, and American Federation of Arts

Look closely at this painting of a man by Kehinde Wiley. Notice the pattern that his hair makes as it comes off his head and swirls around him. Why do you think his hair makes a pattern like that? What does it say about this man, his personality, or his background? Think of a pattern you can create in your collage and drawing. Will the pattern have meaning to you?

A painting of a man sitting on a bicycle is on a sidewalk I front of a city building. He is wearing a knit cap and a purple plaid shirt. He has several kites on his back. He is holding a kite in the shape of a hawk in his left hand and in his right hand he holds a triangular kite with the picture of an anime girl.
Jordan Casteel, Kevin the Kiteman, 2016, oil on canvas, 78 x 78 in., The Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum purchase with funds provided by the Acquisition Committee, 2016.37, Photo Credit: Adam Reich, © Jordan Casteel, Courtesy American Federation of Arts

There are a lot of patterns in this painting. Where do you see them? Look at what the man is holding as well as what he is wearing. Even the background has patterns. How do the patterns add to the mood of this painting? The mood is the emotion you feel when you look at it. Some examples are: playful, fun, somber, or boring. Can you think of a mood word to describe the artwork? The patterns you choose in your art can give it a mood. Think hard about the patterns you want to include in your collage. 

A painting of a man shown in silhouette painted all in black with just his fingernails, teeth and eyes painted in white. He has two fingers raised up to his smiling mouth. He is in front of a green background with a row of squares on the right side of the painting. The top square is white with a red plus sign in the middle, the next square down is yellow, the third square is red, the fourth square has a Kente cloth pattern in red, yellow, green, and black. There is a smaller rectangle below the last square that is white.
Kerry James Marshall, Silence is Golden, 1986, Acrylic on panel 49 × 48 in., The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of the Artist 1987.8, Photo Credit: Marc Bernier, © Kerry James Marshall, Courtesy of the artist Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, and American Federation of Arts  

When you look at this painting, what do you see? There is a portrait of a man but it can be hard to see because the figure is a similar color to the dark background. Why would the artist make the man hard to see? At the same time, the patterns on the right are bright and easy to see. The colors in these patterns have a special meaning to the artist; they represent symbols of his African heritage. Do you have patterns that are important to you or your family? 

Make a Collage Drawing

As you are planning your artwork with patterns, think back to the paintings you have seen. How were the patterns used? You can put patterns next to a drawing, around a drawing, or have them be part of a drawing. There are many ways to have patterns as part of your artwork. 

Today we will be making a drawing with pattern as an element of the artwork. You can draw anything you like, but think about how a pattern will be a part of the composition. 

You will need:

  • A piece of paper - 8.5” x 12.” Heavy paper like cardstock works best, but regular printer paper works fine, too.
  • Paper scraps from magazines, newspapers, food packaging, or anything with a lot of patterns.
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Drawing materials like crayons, colored pencils, or markers.


  1. Cut out any interesting patterns you see in the paper scraps you have gathered. 
  2. Start planning your artwork. What patterns can you use that you cut out? Or maybe you will want to draw your patterns.
  3.  What will you draw? We saw many portraits or pictures of people in the artwork, but you can draw anything. 

Have fun and be creative in how you use patterns in your art. Here are some examples of ways to draw and collage with patterns.

This exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts and The Studio Museum in Harlem. Major support for Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem provided by Art Bridges. Sponsorship for the national tour provided in part by PURE. Support for the accompanying publication provided by Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund. 

Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem is curated by Connie H. Choi, associate curator, permanent collection at The Studio Museum in Harlem. The exhibition was organized for Salt Lake City by Whitney Tassie, senior curator and curator of modern and contemporary art at UMFA.

The UMFA exhibition is presented in partnership with the University of Utah Black Cultural Center and made possible by:

Curatorial Sponsor | Willard L. Eccles Family Foundation

Installation Sponsors |  Tim & Stephanie Harpst
                                        University of Utah College of Mines and Earth Sciences

Programming Sponsors | University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library and Honors College

In-Kind Support | University of Utah Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Third Saturdays are funded by Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP).

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