This middle or high school art project inspired by Neurographic Art is super fun, engaging, and simple to teach. It will be a great addition to your middle or high school art curriculum. Because it requires no previous art skills, it can be done as the first art lesson of the year and it is sure to set the tone for an amazing semester.
All of your students, beginner or advanced, will be engrossed in the meditative drawing process and extremely satisfied with the results of their designs. This mindful art lesson has the perfect balance of structure and freedom so that the beginner artists feel safe with clear instructions, and the advanced art students can incorporate their own creative ideas into the process.
What is Neurographic Art?
Neurography is a meditative drawing process that combines psychology and art. The technique is said to link your conscious and subconscious mind and create new neural pathways.
The creative drawing process can help to reduce stress transform subconscious beliefs and create an overall sense of well-being. It was developed by Russian psychologist, creative entrepreneur, and architect Pavel Piskarev in 2014.
The cool thing about this kind of mindful art is that the drawings actually look like neurons. This type of drawing does not require any previous drawing experience or skills. In my experience, it absolutely encourages mindfulness and helps relieve stress and anxiety.
Many certified art therapists and counselors use this method of drawing in their coaching or healing practices to help patients improve their life. They need to take special courses and be trained to use it as a form of art therapy. This is not the approach I use in my classroom. However, I do tell my students that professionals do this kind of drawing for therapeutic purposes.
How Do You Create Neurographic Art?
To create Neurographic Art you follow a basic algorithm. In my classroom, I follow the algorithm, but also put my own spin on it. I approach it as a design lesson as well.
Here are the steps outlining the process and some tips on how to make this project flow smoothly with mixed-level classes:
Begin by having students draw a freeform line on their page for three seconds. Some teachers and therapists have students reflect on a problem they are experiencing as they draw. When I do this part of the activity, I explain that this is a mindful drawing exercise and give students the option to meditate on an issue weighing on their mind as they work, but only if they would like to.
Slightly thicker markers work better for this step. Extra fine points can be difficult for beginners to control at this stage. It is also helpful to remind students to draw larger looping lines. Tight small shapes will give beginners more difficulty. Bigger loops will give them more space to experiment.
Wherever there are overlapping lines, have students transform the intersections into smooth U shapes. It will be more relaxing and fulfilling for them if they follow the path of the lines and don’t jump around the page. That way they are able to see their designs begin to form and they will not have a bunch of unfinished areas. This strategy will help them feel more accomplished sooner.
Have students smooth out their lines using thick and thin markers. Stress the importance of making the lines flow from thick to thin and having a variety of different line weights. Some kids may stress over making them all even and perfect. Reminding them that variation is more interesting can help them loosen up. It also adds interest to their designs
Next, have them trace some overlapping shapes on top of their designs. Start with only one or two at a time so they do not feel overwhelmed by too much to do. They can always add more as they go.
Have them repeat the process and smooth out the intersections where the new shapes overlap.
COLOR!!! This part is optional. It is a good idea to do one small practice without color first.
In a second design have them experiment with layering watercolor, marker, and colored pencil to create vibrant color and interest.
I absolutely love this part of the lesson. Students are really able to express their unique personalities and will really surprise you with some very interesting effects.
In the above video, I explain and demonstrate the steps that I follow and how to layer color.
I also created two slideshows and videos that explain the process. These are great for posting to Google Classroom so students can refer back to them as needed if they are absent, distance learning, or need a review. I also created a handout that students can scan to access the slideshows without even logging into Google Classroom.
This is great to laminate and keep handy to quickly direct students to instructions if needed. This is SOOOO helpful when the class gets busy and students need to see more finished examples.
How This Art Project Inspired by Neurographic Art Can Set a Positive Tone for the Year in Art
Nobody likes doing anything that they don’t believe they can be good at. Most people, especially young people, try to avoid activities that produce bad feelings (like something new that looks really hard) and favor others that make them feel good….. Cell phones, social media, YouTube…..lol.
Right from the start, this project allows students to believe they can be good at it. Anyone can draw a line, right?
As students moved through the process, they become mesmerized by the cool designs that are unfolding. The satisfying process is relaxing and allows them to slow their brains down, step away from their electronics, and achieve a sense of accomplishment. The feel-good effect creates an association and builts trust in the classroom.
Here are some more design ideas.
Incorporating Images into a Neurographic Art Lesson
You can give advanced art classes the option to expand on this design project however they wish. They can incorporate images or present a proposal for their own unique ideas. Here are some ideas for inspiration.
They can begin with an image and draw freeform lines over the top and then transform the areas that overlapped by turning the V shapes into U shapes.
They can also draw the image loosely using a freeform line or incorporate images into the lines themselves. The sky really is the limit to what is possible with this technique.
How These Neurographic Art Inspired Designs Help Improve Drawing Skills
In addition to the mindfulness and confidence-building aspect of this project, students also get really good at creating lines. They become familiar with how fine line markers work and what kinds of lines they can create with different-size tips.
It is great to follow up this lesson with any line drawing project that adds another skill into the mix.
This project gives them much confidence in their lines. I love super simple line drawing lesson as a great follow-up project. It expands on what students just learned about line, but teaches them how to use a small X grid to enlarge an image.