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QUIRKY CHARACTERS - Illustrated Patches

SEASON 5  |  PROJECT 5/36  |  02.02.24

MODULE:  Drawing  |  GRADE LEVELS:  1 - 6  |  DURATION:  1 Hour


Video Editing by Jorge Davies, Graphics by Melissa Sabol



For this project, students will try their hand at illustration by developing their own unique character. To jump start their process, they’ll choose a personal characteristic – something they like about themselves or a quirk – for inspiration. Using simple lines and shapes, students will draw their characters and then transfer them to fabric patches that can be traded with a friend, given to someone they love, or worn on a shirt. This project is an exercise in “less is more” and an opportunity to celebrate our weird, wonderful, and not-so-perfect selves. As Shari says, “it’s better to have your own style!”


  • Explore how simple lines can reflect mood, emotion, and ideas

  • Experiment with using shapes as basic building blocks to develop figures and images 

  • Learn how to visually communicate information and ideas through personal expression

  • Explore self acceptance by creating a variety of unique personal representations

  • Encourage confidence by providing fun pathways to dive into a new projects despite skill limitations

  • Learn to combine images and written words to create meaningful messages


  • Paper

  • Pencil

  • Eraser

  • Sharpie

  • Fabric (4"x4")


S5 P5-36 Shari Elf-02.png


Shari Elf is a mixed media artist, storyteller, singer, songwriter, printmaker, upcycled fashion designer, and crochet museum curator. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and studied graphic design, but she is less concerned about the mainstream artworld and more interested in embracing her inner child and the idea of being a self-taught artist. The playful quality of her art reflects her uninhibited nature and brings to mind folk, naive, or outsider art, but it is none of these – she is hyper aware of what’s happening in her environment, and actively engages with others. Shari is quite simply, an uncategorizable artist, who uses her art as a way to heal and to help others feel welcome. Her found-art objects and silk-screened patches share uplifting messages that are funny, joyous, and inspiring.


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Keith Haring
Keith Haring worked hard to get his art out to the public. From public murals with strong social messages, to his “subway drawings” in the New York City subway stations, and even his own shop selling t-shirts, toys, buttons and posters with his work on them, he found many different ways to connect with a wide audience. Like many artists, Haring began drawing when he was very young. He learned how to draw cartoons from his dad and books, tv shows, and movies. Haring’s paintings and drawings, with their bold and simple lines, are a visual language, like hieroglyphics or emojis, each image in his paintings holds a meaning.

Keith Haring, We the Youth, 1987, Mural

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Jean-Michel Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat made thousands of drawings and hundreds of paintings throughout his lifetime, starting when he was just a young kid trying to draw his favorite cartoons. For him, art was a way to understand the world and his experiences within it as a black man. Words would often show up in Basquait’s work, sometimes holding a hidden meaning, or shown as musical notes, or sometimes used to just mark up the canvas. He liked to cross out some words, not because they were a mistake, but so the viewer notices them more. “I cross out words so you will see them more: the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them.”


Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hollywood Africans, 1983, Acrylic and oil stick on canvas, 84 1/16 × 84in. (213.5 × 213.4 cm), © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

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Andy J. Pizza & Sophie Miller
Andy J. Pizza and his wife, Sophie Miller are the creators of the book, Invisible Things. Andy is an illustrator and designer, who has written and illustrated several books, and Sophie’s work is centered in textile arts. Invisible Things explores a world we can’t see. It’s a world made up of things that we typically only feel, like fear, echo, and weirdness.  Andy and Sophie bring these invisible things to life through original characters. Andy believes that it is important to create space for moments of heavy feelings and reflection for kids. Sometimes putting faces on our feelings helps to understand things a bit better.

Andy J. Pizza and Sophie Miller, 
Invisible Things, 2023, Chronicle Books

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Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin works in many different kinds of mediums – painting, drawing, sculpture, collage, printmaking, and more. No matter what she makes, it always holds a connection to or shows a meaningful moment in her life. It is very personal, even down to the fabric she uses in her quilt collages. She collects and uses fabric that holds emotional significance. Most of Emin’s work has written messages in them. She says that her work always starts with writing, and the phrases are used to remember how she is feeling the moment she sits down to being a piece of art. Emin is not afraid to tell the world about herself; she shows everything, even the not so pretty parts.


Tracey Emin, Another Question, 2002, Appliqué and embroidery, 71.65 x 71.65 inches (182 x 182 cm)

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Jenny Holzer
Jenny Holzer loves words. She brings a lot of her work and ideas to public spaces in the form of word art. By projecting her messages on buildings or from vehicles and even putting them on t-shirts, Jenny Holzer encourages the community to think deeply about the issues she chooses to address. By only writing in capital letters and often using italics, she brings a sense of urgency to the messages she delivers. Taking her art outside of a gallery or museum allows Holzer to connect with an audience who may never see her work otherwise.


Jenny Holzer, In a Dream You Saw a Way to Survive and You Were Full of Joy, 2020, T-shirt,  Printed on certified organic cotton using eco-friendly Ink, Edition of 500. © 2020 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY


Doodle:  A quick drawing or scribble, created without thinking too much about it. It can be abstract or representational.

Draw:  To make a mark or a line on a flat surface using a pencil, pen, or brush.

Line:  A long, narrow mark with greater length than width. Lines can be vertical, horizontal, diagonal; straight or curved; thick or thin. Lines are used to create shapes in drawing.

Shape:  A closed, flat area made when a line connects to itself. Shapes can be geometric like squares; or circles or organic, like natural shapes. A person or an object can be a combination of different shapes.

Illustration:  A visual representation of an idea. A picture that is used to enhance written text. An illustration could be a cartoon or a caricature.

Sketch:  A rough drawing created quickly without a lot of details, sometimes used to prepare a more detailed artwork.

Sketch:  The outline or edge of an object.


  • Doodle like Keith Haring. Choose three things you like about yourself and draw VERY simple symbols of them. Make sure to spread them out so there is space around them. Now, starting at the corner of any symbol, slowly begin to draw a continuous line that spirals around your drawings. Keep doing this until you have filled the whole page with a twisty-turny line.

  • Turn scribbles into art. Scribble on your blank page for 15 seconds. After 15 seconds, look at that scribble. What do you see? Maybe it looks like a cactus, or some sort of weird bird? Whatever it looks like to you, use your colors, pens and your imagination to transform the scribble into a goofy bird, a fantastical beast, or just a normal bowl of fruit. Anything goes!

  • Use lines to draw feelings. Divide your page into four sections. Set a timer for 30 seconds. In the first section, draw lines that reflect how you are feeling right now. If you are feeling calm, maybe your lines are straight. If you are excited maybe your lines are more jumpy. Draw until your timer goes off, and reset it for the next section. In the next section think about a time you felt mad. What will your lines look like now? For section 3 try drawing happy lines, and for section 4 give sad lines a go!

  • Draw an animal only using basic shapes. Think of all the different parts of the animal and what kind of shapes it has in it. Maybe a basic circle for its head, an oval or rectangle for its body, and some triangles for its ears. Once you break it down, you’ll be surprised by how many shapes you can find in an animal.

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