Op Art For Kids: Inspired By Victor Vasarely

Don’t let your eyes fool you with this art project.  We’re going to learn how to draw an optical illusion on paper.

This art project is inspired Victor Vasarely, a Hungarian-French artist who was widely accepted as the leader of the op art movement.

What is op art?  Op art, short for optical art, is a style of visual art that uses optical illusions.

Op art can also be abstract art that gives the illusion of movement by the precise use of pattern and color, or in which conflicting patterns emerge and overlap.

Victor Vasarely was born in Slovakia in 1906.  At 21 years old, he abandoned his medical schooling to learn traditional academic painting.

He later studied graphic art and typographical design.  In 1930, he settled in Paris working as a graphic artist and making his own art.  Vasarely produced art and sculpture using optical illusion.

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Our inspiration piece for this art project is Zebra, 1950, by Victor Vasarely.

Zebra, 1950 by Victor Vasarely.

In this art project, we are going to create an optical illusion using an animal shape of your choice.

Supplies needed for this project are:

  • Printed animal silhouette
  • Small piece of watercolor paper
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Black Sharpie marker
  • Watercolor paints and brush
  • Lightbox (if you have one, but not necessary)

The first step is to trace the animal silhouette in pencil on the watercolor paper.  If you have a lightbox, this step is very easy.  If not, you can also tape both pieces of paper to a window and use the outdoor light to help you see through the paper.

Once the animal shape is traced on the watercolor paper, lightly draw straight or diagonal lines across the paper over the animal shape as guidelines.

Next, draw the lines that cross the animal shape curved to appear as those they are going over the animal.  This will create the optical illusion on the paper.

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Trace over your pencil lines in Sharpie.  If you have any white spaces that are too large just add extra lines in between to fill the gaps.

Once you finish drawing the lines in Sharpie, erase away the pencil marks.

Now it’s time to add some color.

Choose any color you wish and paint a wash of color over your drawing.  To enhance your optical illusion, darken the color that is just around the edges of your animal.

This will create a shadow effect of your animal popping away from the paper.

Allow your painting to dry.

Our finished dolphin op art!

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About the author

Crystal has worked in the arts and taught drawing and painting for over 25 years in Los Angeles. She loves creating art, gardening, planning fun art projects, and enjoying creative adventures with her family. Find out more at fineartmom.com.

View all articles by Crystal Foth

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