Lesson Plan

John Buck, Man with Horses, 2002, relief print

Lesson plan developed by Rita Yanny, Kegonsa School, Stoughton Area School District, Wisconsin

Grade Level


Summary of Activity

Students will explore a single subject matter working in groups and individually. They will create robot images with different techniques and materials. The relief print Man with Horses, by the artist John Buck, will be the starting point for their exploration.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify and use lines and shapes in art
  • Work collaboratively to create a paper sculpture
  • Create a relief print
  • Communicate an idea in more than one medium

Guiding Question

How do artists explore ideas?


Day 1: strips of medium weight paper, clear tape. regular scissors. scissors with different cutting edges (such as zigzag or scalloped), digital camera 

Day 2: lightweight paper (8 ½ by 5 ½ inches), pencils, styrofoam printing sheets, ballpoint pens or wooden styluses, masking tape, crayons 

Day 3: printing ink, Plexiglas or plastic trays for ink, brayers, paper (8 ½ by 11 inches), spoons


Show students John Buck's relief print, Man with Horses. Facilitate a discussion about the print. Begin by asking students to describe the shapes that create the image of the man. Ask the students to consider if the shapes look flat or three-dimensional? Ask them to describe the details in the background (horses, lines, shapes, symbols). John Buck's art is often described as dreamlike. Ask students if they think Man with Horses fits this description and to give a reason for their answer. Explain that a type of art called Surrealism includes images that are very dreamlike. Mention that some Surrealist artists also made art collaboratively in a very playful and imaginative way. For example, one artist might start a drawing, fold the drawing over with only a little bit of the drawing showing, and pass it to another artist. This second artist would continue the drawing, fold it over like the first, and pass it on to the next person. The last person in the group would unfold the drawing so everyone could see the resulting image. 


Day 1: Explain to the students that they will work in groups to make a paper sculpture of a robot. Emphasize that everyone in the group will contribute cut, folded, and three-dimensional forms and help to arrange an imaginative robot design on the table. With paper, scissors, and tape, demonstrate a few cutting, folding, and construction techniques. (Cut snowflakes, fold an accordion, construct a cone, etc.) If possible, use a digital camera to photograph the designs. If time allows, students could rearrange the paper pieces into a new design or add new paper elements.

Lesson Plan Example

Day 2: Ask the students to look at Man with Horses and describe how John Buck used line and repetition in this work of art. Explain that Buck used tools to carve into a wood block. He put ink on this block. By pressing paper onto the inked block, he made many “impressions” or copies of Man with Horses. These copies are called relief prints. Explain to the students that their relief print will be made using a styrofoam sheet instead of a wood block.

Ask the students to write their name on the back of a sheet of lightweight paper. Remind them to think about their creative robot designs from the previous week or use photographs of their designs as a reference. Using a pencil, demonstrate using shapes and lines to draw a robot.

Lesson Plan Example

Show the students how to tape their drawings to the top of a sheet of styrofoam. Trace the drawing using a pen or a stylus to transfer it to the styrofoam. Remove the pattern drawing, then add and/or deepen lines by pressing directly into the styrofoam with the pen or stylus. Remind students not to press too hard or the styrofoam will rip. Put a fresh sheet of paper over the styrofoam “block” and rub with the side of a crayon to check the image. 

Day 3: Show the students how to print their robot image. Using the brayers, demonstrate how to apply ink to the styrofoam “block,” carefully placing the paper on the inked block, and then adding pressure with the back of a spoon. Repeat the process to make multiple prints. Show the students how to sign their prints.

Lesson Plan Example

Lesson Plan Example


Students could 
Read about the art of Surrealism. Two excellent books are Imagine That: Activities and Adventures in Surrealism by Joyce Raimondo, Watson-Guptill Publications, 2004 and Dinner at Magritte’s by Michael Garland, Dutton Publishers, 1995.

Draw lines or patterns on the strips of paper before creating the group paper sculpture.

Write a “how-to” piece describing how they made the robot themed art.

Display their photographs and prints together. 


  • relief print A relief print is made by carving an image into the surface of a block or plate. The remaining raised areas are then inked and printed.
  • Surrealism Surrealism began in the early 1920’s following World War I. Surrealist art and writing includes surprising juxtapositions, dream imagery, and a focus on the imagination.

Common Core Standards

English Language Arts SL3.1, SL3.3, SL4.1, SL5.1

Wisconsin Visual Arts Standards

B: Art Design History, Citizenship, and Environment: Students will understand the value and significance of the visual arts, media and design in relation to history, citizenship, the environment, and social development. Students will:
B.4.2 Recognize that form, function, meaning, and expressive qualities of art and design change from culture to culture and artist to artist

C: Visual Design and Production: Students will design and produce quality original images and objects, such as paintings, sculptures, designed objects, photographs, graphic designs, videos, and computer images. Students will:
C.4.1 Explore the elements and principles of design
C.4.7 Develop basic skills to produce quality art

D: Practical Applications: Students will apply their knowledge of people, places, ideas, and language of art and design to their daily lives. Students will:
D.4.6 Use problem-solving strategies that promote fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality

E. Visual Communication and Expression: Students will produce quality images and objects that effectively communicate and express ideas using varied media, techniques, and processes. Students will:
E.4.1 Communicate basic ideas by producing studio art forms, such as drawings, paintings, prints, sculpture, ceramics
E.4.2 Communicate basic ideas in design art forms, such as graphic design, architecture, and media arts, such as photography.
E.4.4 Communicate ideas by producing visual communication forms useful in everyday life, such as sketches, plans and models

H. Visual Thinking:  Students will develop perception, visual discrimination, and media literacy skills to become visually educated people. Students will:
H.4.4 Create three-dimensional forms with paper, clay, and other materials

I. Personal and Social Development: Students will use their senses and emotions through art and design to develop their minds and to improve social relationships. Students will:
I.4.7 Work alone and with others to develop visual ideas and objects

L. Visual Imagination and Creativity: Students will use their imaginations and creativity to develop multiple solutions to problems, expand their minds, and create ideas for original works of art and design. Students will:
L.4.2 Begin to develop a base of knowledge and skills from which to create new ideas

John Buck (American, b. 1946), Man with Horses, 2002, relief print, 36 x 28 inches. Gift of the Madison Print Club. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

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