Play Along with Me

Playing with my scrapbook-paper shapes each morning is actually quite fun. Sure, I’m an old great-grandmother, but that doesn’t mean I can’t let my “inner child” come out to play. Despite my age, I can still remember how it felt to be in Kindergarten, to sit cross-legged on the floor, and delight in putting colorful blocks together in creative, imaginative ways.

That’s how I begin my mornings now. I sit down, pull out my large “backing sheet”, then scatter my circles and squares, lines, and other shapes all around me. Then I begin the process of picking and choosing, selecting certain elements, passing others by, all with a specific design principle in mind.

Today I’m inviting you to join the fun and play along with me. If you haven’t already made yourself a playtime “tool kit” of colorful shapes, take time to do it today. Have some regular, familiar shapes — circles, squares, rectangles, triangles — and cut out a few weird ones, too. Maybe some of your shapes will remind you of things — some of mine look a bit like clouds, and I have one, you might recall, that resembles a cactus. Although my colors are all fairly close, you might want to add both lights and darks.

Then find a quiet time and place, sit down, and have fun moving your “paper blocks” around. And while you’re moving them about, think a little about the overall image you’re creating with your shapes. Remember those five fundamental design principles?

  • Balance
  • Unity
  • Emphasis
  • Proportion
  • Rhythm

A good design — or a good work of art — will probably reflect all of these principles to one degree or another. Even when I’m focusing on a single element, I’m still hoping that the other elements are present as well.

Moving shapes around on the page lets me see how these principles actually work. It’s a simple but effective “hands-on” exercise for developing artistic awareness.

With today’s illustration — I’m not sure what else to call them — I concentrated on emphasis. My intent was to draw a viewer’s attention to one very specific area. So, please, play along with me again here. When you look at this illustration, where is your attention first drawn?

As I look at it now — from a relative distance of time — I can see a few elements that I might want to change.

As with all art, there is no single “definitive answer” that is right and no single “definitive answer” that is wrong. We can create an endless array of designs that make good use of design fundamentals. I’m hoping that my morning child’s play might represent one that does work as a reasonably good design.

It’s hard for me to judge, though, so please, do take a moment to play along and let me know what stands out most for you in this illustration. Thank you! Now, let’s enjoy a little more playtime and get ready for our morning snack. Oh, yes. Even when we get old and gray, we can still delight in the simple pleasures of childhood play.

Who wants to have a make-believe tea party after lunch?



  1. Dear Judith,
    I remember playing with this shapes in the Swedish Kindergarten. I loved it. Later I saw in a Dutch Museum that some artists especially in the 1920s used this as well. We still have these cardboard shapes our beloved Bookfairies Siri 🙂 and 🙂 Selma love to play with.
    Thanks for sharing.
    All the best. Happy Easter 🐣🐣
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have really enjoyed sitting on the floor playing with shapes! I think I’ve learned a lot about design principles, too. I’ve saved all of these cut-outs so the grandchildren can play with them too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s one reason why Matisse is my favorite artist. When he was laying on his death bed he cut shapes out of bright paper and arranged them on his ceiling by taping them onto sticks and putting them up there. I’m not sure how he managed to tape shapes to the ceiling but I thought, way to go out, Matisse! I want to do that too! Rock on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a post coming up in about a week — A Visit with Matisse — but I did not know about him taping shapes to the ceiling! I’m not wild about his art itself, but I adore HIM. Thank you so much for sharing the story with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve just re-discovered my love for collage. I do this sort of thing with scraps of paper I have lying around, making compositions I find pleasing. It is really relaxing and satisfying. (Note: my answer to your question is “upper right” — I think that arching piece is the driving line.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It really is fun, and I’ve been saving lots of scraps of paper to use for collage projects. Now, here’s what’s a bit funny about my illustration for today. I write and schedule posts in advance, so what you’re seeing today was created several weeks ago. I actually have NO IDEA what I intended to be my focal point, so I think maybe I failed LOL. If I can’t look at it and see what I emphasized, I must not have done a very good job of emphasizing whatever it was. I’m thinking it was the orange circle on that vaguely moon-shaped piece, but I can’t be sure.


      1. Ha ha ha! I so could have done this myself! If you can’t remember what you intended, you’re free to pick whatever you want it to be! Happy creating.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This was such an informative post. Really good one for those moments of creative rut. Just go back to the beginning…And Uhmmm, on board for that make-believe tea party after lunch I think ….

    Liked by 1 person

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