Nancy Rubins For Older Children

Silhouette of abstract drawing



Nancy Rubins

American, born 1952

Subject: Pattern and texture

Activity: Pattern Drawing

Materials: Paper; pencil, markers or crayons; colored construction paper

Vocabulary: Graphite, pattern


The artist who made this drawing, Nancy Rubins, also made the sculpture with canoes outside. Usually, when we see drawings by famous artists they are framed and hung on a wall in a museum. Rubins likes her drawings to take up space just like her sculptures. To do this she takes heavy sheets of paper and with a thick piece of graphite covers the sheet with marks. She presses hard with the graphite and draws in one direction across the entire sheet. Then she changes direction and adds another layer. She does this over and over again, making the sheet curl up in unusual ways. By pinning the drawing on the wall she lets the curls and folds show. 


How are the two works of art by Nancy Rubins similar? How are they different? 

How would the drawing change if it were pressed flat and displayed in a frame? 

How would the drawing change if Rubins used a colored pastel or marker? 

  • With a crayon, marker, or colored pencil, draw a simple shape at the corner of a sheet of paper. It can have sharp corners or rounded edges.

  • Draw a line around the shape. Try to get close to but do not touch the rst shape.

  • Continue the drawing by building another line around the second line and watch the shape get bigger and bigger. If the shape gets too big, start another one on a different spot. Fill the entire sheet with repeating shapes and lines. The sheet should start curling and crease like the Rubins’ drawing. Download this activity guide to see an example.


Nancy Rubins likes to hang her drawings on the wall without a frame like a piece of sculpture. 

Look again

Can you see the textures in Rubins’ drawings, which were made by rubbing the graphite on the paper in different directions? 


Graphite - A natural material that can be formed into thick sticks and used for drawing. Graphite is the material in a pencil.

Pattern - A repeating line, shape, or color.