Open Today: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Close Menu
John Colt Pond Tokens

Lesson Plan | John Colt: Nature in the Abstract — MMoCA


Pond Tokens 


Visual Art, Language Arts, Science 


Kathy Engebretsen and Margaret O’Connor Plotkin 

Essential Questions

  1. Is a pond an object in nature?
  2. What is a token?
  3. Is a token an object from nature?
  4. If a token can mean a sign of something else, what could be an example of a token? 

Grade Level



  • To develop observational and drawing skills
  • To introduce or continue printmaking skills
  • To identify what objects from nature are and research properties of individual objects.


Creating abstract images drawn from objects in nature

Discussion Questions

  1. What colors, lines, and shapes do you see in John Colt’s Pond Tokens?
  2. Do you think this work of art is realistic or abstract? What in the print makes you say that?
  3. How has the artist exaggerated scale and proportion in this image? Do you think the life forms in Pond Tokens are drawn at their actual size? Why or why not?


Tell the students that John Colt was born in Madison, where his father had started an art school. John taught art in Australia for a year, and then for thirty years at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Ask the students to look at the print, Pond Tokens, for a few minutes. Ask them to identify the colors, shapes, and lines they see, and to determine if the print is realistic or abstract? Does it appear that the life forms in the print are their actual size? Why or why not?

Explain that John Colt liked to look at nature very closely and change the scale of the life forms and objects that he observed, painting the shapes larger or smaller than they actually were, as did Georgia O’Keeffe, who was born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin and also abstracted images of nature in her art.

Provide each student with an object from nature and a viewfinder; alternatively, ask them to bring an object from nature that they would like to study closely. Ask them to move the viewfinder around the object till they find a part they really like.

Tell them to draw only that part on a larger sheet of paper, and to fill the whole paper with their drawing, changing the scale and abstracting or simplifying the details of that section of their object. Pencil lines can be traced with a black Sharpie and shapes colored in with watercolors, oil pastels or colored pencils to produce an image in the manner of John Colt’s lithograph.


John Colt’s lithograph, Pond Tokens . Objects from nature. Viewfinders, drawing and printmaking supplies. Poster or computer image of a painting by Georgia O’Keeffe. Nature in Focus series: Life in a Pond, Hibbert. 


Scale, abstraction 


Students’ drawings can be used to make a print or multiple prints using foam tablets and brayers with printing ink. Compare John Colt’s art to paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe.


Visual Art

VA CR 2.1, VA CR 2.2, VA CR 2.3

Related Teaching Page