Notes of Lessons: Principles of Design, Class IV

Notes of Lessons: Principles of Design, Class IV

[We have thought that it might be of use to our readers (in their own families) to publish from month to month during the current year, Notes of Lessons prepared by students of the House of Education for the pupils of the Practising School. We should like to say, however, that such a Lesson is never given as a tour de force, but is always an illustration or an expansion of some part of the children’s regular studies (in the Parents’ Review School), some passage in one or other of their school books.—Ed.]

Subject: DesignGroup: ArtClass IVTime: 30 minutes

By Violet R. Saunders
The Parents’ Review, 1904, pp. 792-793


I. To introduce the girls to the principles of design so that they may be encouraged to make their own designs for handicrafts, etc.

II. To increase their power of observation.

III. To develop their imagination.

IV. To increase their appreciation of the beauty of line.


Step I.—Show the girls several designs and ask them what they think are the principles to be remembered in a design. It must, first of all, be interesting because of its fitness for its purpose. It must not give the idea of being a laboured piece of work but one which has been done with ease. The principles of design are these:—

(1) Gradation.—Notice the beauty of line, gradual curve, and gradual colour and light and shade, etc., in a child’s face. In a cyclamen leaf the spots become gradually smaller towards the point, so forming a pattern in themselves.

(2) Symmetry.—Show that beautiful things are nearly always symmetrical.

(3) Repetition.—Notice that a design is frequently made up of one small piece of work repeated.

(4) Variety.—There must be enough variety in a design to avoid weariness in seeing the same thing repeated over and over again and yet not enough to cause confusion.

(5) Radiation.—This is very well seen in the veins of leaves, the growth of flowers, leaves, branches, on a plant; shells, etc.

(6) Composition of line.—This is one of the chief beauties in the old scroll work.

(7) Arrangement.—A naturalistic copy of a plant or part of a plant will not be fit for use in ornament without some arrangement. A designer will, therefore, before beginning to work out his design, make a careful drawing of the plant he wishes to use, studying its separate parts minutely, then will select and perhaps even exaggerate those parts which will be most useful to him; it is not necessary that he should keep to the natural proportions of the plant.

Step II.—Show the girls a plant of the snowdrop and get them to examine it well, noticing the symmetry of the flowers, graceful curve of line, etc.

Step III.—Let the girls each try to make a design for a border, but before beginning, suggest that they should make a little rough sketch in one corner to get some definite idea about the grouping, arrangement, etc. It is best to work out the design in monochrome.