St. Basil – Shapes in Architecture Watercolor Lesson

st-basils shapes in architectureSt. Basil “Shapes in Architecture” Lesson Plan

St. Basil Lesson

3rd grade St. Basil Artchitecture Lesson

Supplies: 12×18 Tagboard or Watercolor Paper, watercolors, permanent black markers

Objectives: Students will learn that architecture is the designing and planning of buildings. Architects use geometric & free-form shapes & forms to design buildings. Students will compare & contrast different cultures architecture. They will study & create a piece of art based on medieval castle architecture. Students will observe the use of the principles of rhythm & pattern in architecture.

  1. Review types of shapes: free-form & geometric
  2. Architecture is the designing & planning of buildings.
  3. An architect is the person/artist who designs & plans the buildings.
  4. Simple Geometric shapes: circle, square, triangle. We use simple shapes to make houses – mostly squares, rectangles and triangles.  Other special shapes are sometimes used to make a building.
  5. Complex Geometric shapes: trapezoid, parallelogram, diamond, hexagon, pentagon, octagon.
  6. A column is a sort of post used to hold up a roof or part of the building.  It can be used instead of a wall to hold up a roof.  Do you have columns on your house?  Columns provide support for the roof without closing in the space.  Columns can be different shapes.  They are usually rectangular or cylindrical.
  7. Another shape that can be used in designing a building is an arch.  An arch has the shape of half a circle with long sides.  Sometimes it is pointed at the top.  An arch is usually used to create opening such as windows, doors, or halls.
  8. Another shape is a dome.  A dome looks like a half-circle from the front, but it is really half of a sphere, or ball, sort of an upside-down bowl shape.  Basically, a dome is really lots of arches that cross over each other.  The dome is used as a roof.  The type of dome on St. Basil’s is called an “onion dome.” (It kind of looks like a Hersey’s Kiss!)
  9. Look at a COLOR photo of St. Basil’s-talk about colors, patterns, shapes, domes, arches & columns.
  10. We also talk about what a cathedral is & why/who built St.Basil.

Project: Design your own version of St. Basil Cathedral in Watercolor


  1. Give each student a reference photo of St. Basil & a sheet of 12×18″ watercolor paper or tagboard.
  2. Tell the students they will be designing their own version of a St. Basil style cathedral. Things they must include are: onion domes at the top of each building, various height structures, & many different patterns & colors.
  3. Design the cathedral in pencil first, then outlined in Sharpie.
  4. Paint with watercolors, but we talk about important watercolor tips first. Encourage them to work slowly & change their colors often.

A Couple Watercolor Tips 

  • Painting wet areas next to wet areas will cause the paint to bleed & blend together. We don’t want that on our buildings (sky is okay). So you need to work all around your painting. Paint part of a pattern, then go to another area & let that area dry before you finish it.
  • Use the right size paintbrush for the right size area! Small details need small paintbrushes, large areas need larger brushes. (I usually don’t even give them big brushes until they are ready to the background.

Here is some Student Artwork IN PROGRESS and a few completed pieces.

St. Basil Lesson

3rd Grade St. Basil Architecture Lesson

St. Basil Lesson

3rd Grade St. Basil Architecture Lesson

St. Basil Lesson

3rd Grade St. Basil Lesson

St. Basil Lesson

If you choose to use this lesson or to repost it (written info or photos), please link it back to my blog. Create Art with ME

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