Step One: Share samples of Art Nouveau images, asking students to identify common characteristics of the pieces. Sample images might include works by Alphonse Mucha, Kay Nielsen, Margaret Macdonald, or Eugene Grasset.
Students should note that some of the common elements they see include ornate detail, an adherence to natural shapes and objects (curved lines, flowers, trees, insects, female figures), and flat color. You may wish to point out that such elements lend themselves nicely to hand-created cards, because the surface area is smaller, making it easier to focus on intricate details and fine lines.
Step Two: Have students begin thumbnail sketches (about 2 inch by 2 inch) to test out their ideas for the designs of their cards. Depending on availability of time and skill level of students, you could suggest that students create 3-5 different design sketches to use as ideas for complete cards.
You may also want to provide stencils or rulers to help students place any text they wish to incorporate into their designs. Students should be sure to include ornate borders in the design of their cards.
Step Three: Once students have completed their sketches, they may begin drawing their designs on the cards with light pencil. Encourage students to draw using a light touch, and to work on the entire design as a whole before focusing on detailed sections of their cards. Once the entire design has been sketched onto a card, students may use colored pencils and ink pens to fill in areas of line and color.
Special needs options: For students who have trouble completing entire cards or who have motor skill difficulties, a good option is to have colored cardstock available, upon which students can either use stencils to create their designs and text. Alternatively, you could allow them to cut out and glue images on as a collage, rather than creating drawings from scratch.
Assessment: Once students have completed their hand-drawn cards, encourage them to post them around the room for others to see. Students who have completed their cards may view others’ designs and discuss the characteristics they see as belonging to the Art Nouveau style of creating images.
Extension: Students should be encouraged to gift their cards to others as Valentines—remind them to sign their work!