Project : Generative Drawings: Analog & Digital after Sol LeWitt

In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.

Sol LeWitt, “Paragraphs on Conceptural Art”, Artforum, June 1967.


This project takes inspiration from American artist Sol LeWitt’s influential body of work titled “Wall Drawings” which began in the 1960s and ’70s. As a conceptual artist, LeWitt created a plan—a list of instructions for others to execute on the wall. His work asks important questions about artistic authorship and the relationship between the idea and the artwork a given idea might produce. In the present digital era, we can see connections between LeWitt’s approach to his art and the relationship between a computer programmer, the program, and what is produced. In both cases, a set of instructions (like a program) is made by one person, which becomes a mechanism for another (whether person or machine) to create art.

For this project, working in pairs, you will adopt Sol LeWitt’s approach of making a list of instructions in two formats, digital and analog, to create two works of art.


Each person creates a written list of instructions for their partner to carry out on paper to generate a dynamic drawing with depth, texture, and variety of shape. Like LeWitt, you will limit yourself to only basic lines and shapes and use repetition strategically to create depth and movement in the image.


You and your partner should discuss and decide which of the three digital tools (, EscherSketch, or Context Free Art) you will use for your digital artwork. Both partners must use the same tool.

Each person creates a written list of instructions for their partner to carry out using the chosen digital tool to generate a dynamic image with depth, texture, and a variety of shape. Note that these tools already necessarily limit you to using only basic lines and shapes, as in LeWitt’s work, although of course the possibility of much smaller and more numerous repetitions can create the illusion of more complex, organic shapes.

Note that some iteration will probably be required! If after executing your partner’s instructions, the final image does not meet the criteria in the rubric below (the image should use the whole picture plane, and use a variety of elements, e.g. lines, shapes, colors, and textures), it could be because you did not execute the instructions well, or it could be because the instructions were insufficient, or both. Discuss with your partner, write some new instructions, and try again. Repeat until you are both satisfied with the result.


Each partner should write 1-2 paragraphs reflecting on your creative process in this project. For example, you might consider questions such as:

  • Did you feel you were exhibiting more creativity when writing instructions for your partner, or when executing your partner’s instructions (or about the same)?
  • How did you like the final results that came from your partner following your instructions? Was it what you expected or completely different?
  • How did you construct your list of instructions so that it would have an interesting result?
  • How might this scenario—one person (or group of people) giving instructions and another person (or group of people) carrying them out—play out in your intended field of study/career? Can you identify any particular skills that this exercise has helped you develop?
  • In what ways does communication and creative collaboration factor into engaged citizenship?
  • Did you run into an awareness of fixed vs. growth mindset as you did this project?

Your reflection does not need to answer all the above questions, and you could also answer other, related questions instead. These are just example prompts to get you thinking. You will not be graded on things like grammar, punctuation, etc. (although writing well is always a goal worth striving for); we simply want to see evidence of thoughtful reflection.

What to turn in

Decide which partner will actually submit your files. They will collect all the files (as described below) for both of you and upload them all. Only one partner should submit.

You should submit:

  • Two sets of analog instructions and two sets of digital instructions.
    • The format does not matter: photos of handwritten instructions, Word docs, and PDF files are all acceptable.
    • Be sure each set of instructions is clearly labelled to show which partner wrote them, and which partner executed them.
  • Good photos of the two finished analog drawings on paper.
  • Two image files containing the finished digital images.
  • A written reflection from each partner. Word or PDF documents are both acceptable.

You should be submitting a total of TEN files (four sets of instructions, two photos, two digital images, and two reflections).

All files should be uploaded via this DropBox link. Remember that only one partner needs to upload all the files.

Learning Goals

  • Introduction to Conceptual art and Generative art
  • Creative problem solving in both the digital and analog formats
  • Introduction to the artist Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawings
  • Further development of collaboration skills
  • Further development of digital and analog creative skills


The project is worth a total of 200 points.

  • Combined grade (175 points) You and your partner will receive the same joint grade, based on the following criteria:
    • 2 sets of analog instructions in a simple list format, clearly labelled to show who wrote and executed each (12 points each)
    • 2 sets of digital instructions in a simple list format, clearly labelled to show who wrote and executed each (12 points each)
    • 2 analog drawings (25 points each)
      • Thoroughness and rigor: the finished drawing must have a substantial amount of mark-making and variety to create a dynamic image. The final drawing should be more ambitious than “safe”; more difficult than easy.
    • 2 digital drawings (25 points each)
      • Thoroughness and rigor: the image should use the whole picture plane, and use a variety of elements (e.g. lines, shapes, colors, textures).
    • 10 project files uploaded to dropbox on or before November 9 (27 points)
  • Individual grade (25 points) Each partner will receive an individual grade for their reflection.
    • Written reflection (25 points): 1-2 paragraphs, written in prose, that demonstrate thoughtful reflection about the project, its larger implications, and the collaborative process.