De Stijl: Colour, Line & Writing skills


As promised, this year I will be delving into what this blog and my passions are really about. Art History and cross curricular learning for children. In a matter of weeks my debut book, Potty About Pots: Arts and Crafts for Home and School will be released for public consumption (gulp!). 

Children yearn to get messy and create, whether that is outside in the mud, inside building forts or at the table producing masterpieces. Scientists and child development experts have said that It is crucial for their development and understanding of the world. Since man first walked the Earth, we have had a yearning and an instinctive need to create. The world is full of art and our history is overflowing with it. My mission, however small the impact, is to try and inspire and show that art can be used to learn not just about art and our history but also, languages, maths, english, geography, politics, learning to write, design, you name it. 

And I start completely at random, with the De Stijl movement. 

De Stijl Movement (Netherlands 1917-1928)

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray, and Blue (1921), Oil on canvas - Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray, and Blue (1921), Oil on canvas - Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

The Facts:

Red and Blue Chair  , designed by  Gerrit Rietveld , version without colors 1919, version with colors 1923

Red and Blue Chair, designed by Gerrit Rietveld, version without colors 1919, version with colors 1923

  • An Artistic movement in the Netherlands from 1917-1928. 
  • Mostly confined to the Netherlands as the country did not involve itself in World War I and as a result could not leave the country until it had ended. Other countries however, were influenced by the movement. 
  • The artists simplified what they created until it was made of just lines and simple colours. 
  • Colours they used were red, yellow, blue, black, white and grey. 
  • The movement extended into architecture, furniture design, sculpture as well as painting. 

Artists: (to name just a few)

  1. Piet Modrian (1872–1944), painter, co-founder of De Stijl
  2. Jean Gorin (1899–1981), painter, sculptor
  3. Theo van Doesburg (1883–1931), painter, designer, and writer; co-founder of De Stijl movement; published De Stijl, 1917–1931
  4. Ilya Bolotowsky (1907–1981), painter and sculptor
  5. Gerrit Rietveld (1888–1964), architect and designer
Theo van Doesburg, Model Artist House, 1923

Theo van Doesburg, Model Artist House, 1923


Bringing Art into Learning

IMG_5268 2.JPG

While looking through some of the De Stijl's artwork, I realised that they were full of aspects I could use to work with Patronus A. The art movement is full of black lines and mostly primary colours. Using this to my advantage I could create a practise writing piece, while simultaneously recapping on colours, written colours and also line copying. It is an easy little activity for your little ones, all the while teaching them a little Modern Art without them even realising! 

We did two different versions of this activity which I will show below. 



What you will need: 

  • A3 Paper
  • Pencil
  • Black Pen
  • Red, Yellow, Blue, Black, Green pens/crayons/colouring pencils
  • Ruler



  1. On your A3 paper, draw some intersecting vertical and horizontal lines with pencil. Have a look on Google images for Piet Mondrian's paintings so some inspiration. 
  2. In some of the boxes, write some colours. We only used the colours that artists of the De Stijl movement used. Black, yellow, red and blue. They also used white and grey, but that was a bit tricker to do. Write the first letter of each colour in bubble form and then the whole word underneath. Make them big enough for little practising hands. 
  3. Then they can trace away. 
  4. Once they have finished tracing the words go over get them to colour each box with the correct colour. 
  5. After the have completed the colouring, give them the black pen and encourage them to trace over all the vertical and horizontal lines. This is good pen control practise for them. 

Patronus A's Masterpiece 


Patronus A was keen to do another one once she had completed this one, so I quickly whipped up another one.

I realised I should have done this the first time round, but hey ho you learn from your mistakes. We also added another colour to it too. 


By writing the colours in their actual colours it  allowed Patronus A to recognise what colour she needed to use to colour in that block. Over time if we do this regularly she will start to recognise the actual words too. Just like how she recognises her name if it is written down now. Though she may not be actually reading yet, she is recognising the same symbols in an a specific order. And that is how the journey to learning to read starts.