Activity 2

Elements of Design

Photo Credit: The Robert McLaughlin Gallery

Ages 12+

Jock Macdonald was inspired by the western landscape. It featured prominently as subject matter in his early work. Macdonald also trained as a designer early in his career and this training often had a visual influence on his landscape paintings.

Lesson Objective

Students will study what elements of design feature most prominently in Jock Macdonald’s landscapes and then they will apply at least one into a drawing of a their city, neighborhood or home.


  • Tempura paint
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Watercolour paint
  • Watercolour paper
  • Paintbrush


Look at artworks
Open Your Eyes
Estimated Time

15 – 30 Minutes

Step 1

Review a selection of Jock Macdonald’s landscape paintings with the class and introduce them to or remind them of the elements design.

  • Line
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Space
  • Colour
  • Texture
  • Value

Step 2

Through class discussion ask students to identify prevalent elements of design in Macdonald’s paintings. Ask students whether the paintings rely on line, colour etc.?

Create a landscape painting
Draw or paint
Estimated Time

30 – 45 minutes

Step 3

Ask students to create a painting of their city, neighbourhood or home using at least one key element of design observed in the discussion of Macdonald’s work.

Step 4

Encourage students to think about how Jock Macdonald’s paintings would look if he were influenced by the place where they live.