Visual Art

boy painting a pot

Are You Into It?

Do you want to express yourself, be creative, or make an impression? Visual Arts is for you! It may be messy, fun, strange, or unique. You will get to work with paint, chalk, metal, wood, origami, computers and much, much more. Be yourself, explore visual arts!

  • Explore and experiment with endless materials to make new art
  • Develop your creative skills and talents
  • Be confident expressing yourself through various art forms
  • Gain understanding of art history, cultures, and various technique
  • Master the basics of making great art – its elements and principals
  • Consider a career or life time hobby in art

Here’s what you can do all year!

Starting Out Basic / Level 1

  • Interview a local artist
  • Create a portfolio and design idea book – for storing your great works and ideas
  • Explore ways to cut and assemble paper
  • Exchange art materials with friends
  • Create an art or craft with a friend
  • Find places to share your art with family, friends and your community
  • Experiment with line and color

Learning More Intermediate / Level 2

  • Identify a town or country and its local art  
  • Seek out a creative person you would like to learn more about
  • Arrange an art trip to local art fair or farmer’s market
  • Experiment with various brushes and paint
  • Compare different types of media
  • Experiment with line, shape, color, texture and space

Expanding Horizons Advanced / Level 3

  • Experiment with rhythm, proportion, emphasis, balance, and unity
  • Understand and apply media techniques and processes
  • Understand visual art in relationship to history and culture
  • Enter your art in a local exhibition
  • Be an entrepreneur – market and sell your work

Des Moines Art Center

Calendar of Exhibits

Take It Further

Visual Art Hot Sheet  (color pdf)
Visual Art Exhibits Tip Sheet (color pdf)
Design Elements & Art Principles Tip Sheet (color)
Poster Exhibits Tip Sheet (color pdf)
Exhibitor Fair Information Form (Word or editable PDF)
Exhibit Evaluation Form (pdf)
Here are other opportunities to explore Visual Arts:

  • Explore other project areas including Photography, Clothing, Home Improvement and others.
  • Check out books at the library or visit online sources to learn more about techniques, composition, copyright and privacy laws, and the history and future of art.
  • Create a portfolio of your best artwork (sketches, techniques and final compositions).
  • Attend local art exhibitions at museums and schools.
  • Enter your artwork in a local, state or national exhibition.
  • Learn about other artists, art history and techniques by visiting a library or using online resources.
  • Volunteer to create a work of art for your school, church or other organization.
  • Is it fair time? Consider taking an exhibit, a piece of your project learning, to the fair for judging and to show what you have learned throughout the year.
  • It might get selected to go to the Iowa State Fair.
  • Contact your County Extension office for other local workshops, activities and events.
  • Meet others interested in visual arts. Check out camps at the Iowa 4-H Center.
  • Attend Iowa 4-H Youth Conference and participate in workshops, motivational speakers and a community service project, bringing ideas back to your community
  • Interested in a college education in the area of visual arts? Schedule a visit with Iowa State University’s College of Design.

Step It Up

Pass it on! Now that you know how, share it with others. Here are ideas to get you started.


  • Create a poster, flier, or brochure
  • Teach art activities at an afterschool or summer program
  • Plan, conduct and evaluate an on-going workshop
  • Demonstrate an art technique to local community groups, such as Kiwanish Club, Women's Church Group, Champer of Commerce.


  • Complete a Service-Learning project
  • Volunteer at a local art event
  • Donate your art for a fundraiser
  • Share your art skills with others – at school, churches, synagogue, or recreation
  • Create an artwork display at a local nursing home
  • Paint a mural in your community (improve the appearance of an old building, spruce up the fairgrounds)
  • Volunteer at a local art museum


  • Lead your family in an art project
  • Offer to critique your friend or family’s artwork
  • Volunteer to serve on a local art council
  • Teach an art workshop for your local Clover Kids Club

Exhibit Ideas

  • Piece of original art such as charcoal drawing, watercolor, tempera or acrylic painting, pen and ink drawing, colored pencil drawing, etc.
  • Portfolio about visual arts techniques such as perspective, sketching, contour drawing, shading, blending, etc.
  • Display about drawing tools
  • Report about a favorite artist’s life or type of art
  • Notebook based on an interview with a local artist or jeweler
  • Report about museum visits
  • An original sculpture such as cardboard, wire, plaster or clay
  • Poster or display on design element(s) or art principle(s)
  • Demonstrate mixing colors on a poster or display
  • Portfolio of advertisements showing design elements or art principles
  • Original optical illusion using shape and space
  • Poster on different vegetable dyes
  • Demonstrate silk-screening
  • Piece of jewelry using handmade beads or ornaments
  • Photo display of art found in your community or state
  • Report about careers that use artistic techniques such as a jeweler or designer
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