Play and Explore: The Ingredients and Elements of the Poem

By Inbal Leitner

Inbal Leitner is a professional Illustrator with over 20 years’ experience working within the Illustration and Animation industry. After working on many editorial illustration, and animation projects, Inbal specialised in Children’s Book Illustration and completed a Masters at Cambridge School of Art in 2018. In this resource Inbal demonstrates how poems can be translated into imagery using just shape and line.

Line Experiments by Inbal Leitner

Let’s explore a poem!

It can be the poem you’ve just heard about in the video, or ANY other poem!

If you’d like to work with “Growing up” by Harry Behn, here it is:

Growing Up by Harry Behn

When I was seven

We went for a picnic

up to a magic

Foresty place.

I knew there were tigers

behind every boulder,

though I didn’t meet one face to face.

When I was older

we went for a picnic

up to the very same

place as before,

and all of the trees

and the rocks were so little

They couldn’t hide tigers

Or me anymore.

To Begin

Start by drawing different lines using pencils, pens, paints or any other materials.  Create thin and thick lines, straight and quirky lines, and strong and faint lines.

Explore Shapes Too!
Using paint or pre-painted pieces of paper, see what happens when you create:

  • Big and small shapes.

  • Neat and rough shapes.

  • Simple and complex shapes.

Experiment with sticking shapes on top of each other!

Shape Experiments by Inbal Leitner

Develop your shapes by combining lines and shapes together – do you get any interesting combinations?

Shape and Lines by Inbal Leitner

Creating a Background and Characters

You may want to paint whole pages or parts of the pages in your sketchbook, this can be used as a background or as a foundation layer to draw on. It can help you create the atmosphere, the feeling of the poem.

What colour would you use for a fun atmosphere? How about mysterious? Or a scary feeling?

Painted Landscape Background by Inbal Leitner

You might want to think of objects that appear in the poem.

Try and create the same object using lines only, shapes only and a combination of lines and shapes.

Use different materials to draw the same object, did you get any interesting combinations? Can you combine objects drawn using line with objects drawn using shapes?

You can also create the objects outside the sketchbook, by cutting or ripping pieces of paper or card. This way you can play with the organisation of the different shapes on the page.

Your sketchbook is like a little poem dictionary, where you draw and give life to objects.

Cut Out Shapes by Inbal Leitner
Line, Shape and Line and Shape Drawings by Inbal Leitner

With special thanks to Peter & Ben Behn, and Heather Heddon for giving their permission for AccessArt to use ‘Growing Up’ by Harry Behn.


This is a sample of a resource created by UK Charity AccessArt. We have over 850 resources to help develop and inspire your creative thinking, practice and teaching.

AccessArt welcomes artists, educators, teachers and parents both in the UK and overseas.

We believe everyone has the right to be creative and by working together and sharing ideas we can enable everyone to reach their creative potential.

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