Art Shoes

Shoes Everywhere!

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one good pair of boots (shoes)” ~ Michael Gerrish
Submitted by: 
Robin Singer


Shoes bridge all cultures – this is a way to teach about cultures – a way to teach the stories. Each day while the students are working, you could begin with a shoe of a culture and a short story with a message or a proverb (Michael’s quote above is actually a variation of a Chinese Proverb). This is a way to teach about themes in art – “Beauty…” a way to teach “Change” – and change is good (I have some tiny women’s Chinese shoes -about three inches long) This is a way to teach identity – create a new kind of self portrait. This is a way to teach values – character development – What kind of person wore those shoes? Teach work ethic.


12 x 18 (30.5 x 46 cm) white Drawing PaperDrawing PencilsKneaded Rubber ErasersSharpie Fine Point MarkersUltra-Fine Point MarkersAquaMarkersBrushes, water dishes

First to share are from Robin Singer’s 4th grade students.


Complete lesson plan for this to come… with links for shoes through time. My recommendation would be to include textile design. Place the shoes on colorful patterned fabric for the drawing. I imagine Robin had the students fill the negative space with various lines.

Once shoes are drawn, outline with fine point and ultra fine point Sharpie. Color next to the lines with Crayola marker. Right away brush over the lines with water to blend toward the center of the shapes. Experiment with your watercolor markers to see if they will bleed like Crayola brand.

Self Portrait Shoes – Tracy Albert May Whitney Elementary, Illinois



12 x 18 (30.5 x 46 cm) white Drawing PaperSharpie Fine Point MarkersBrushesWatercolor Paint.

Students draw shoes, add legs and clothing. Add details to the negative space that enhance the drawing and tell something about themselves.

 Drawing Shoes Goes Hi-Tech in Photoshop Shoe Photo Drawing[Archive]
Submitted by Cynthia Gaub – The Virtual Classroom
 [Archive] Cynthia has done a lesson on the Computer with Photoshop where you do a photo drawing of the shoes. More tips and tricks for this one to come. 
Painted Shoes “In the Style Of”… Sarah Wegenast – Aurora Middle School From Sarah: This unit was a great hit with the students. Each student picked an artist or style of art to compose a painting using Acrylic Paints. Shoes turned into the canvas we painted on, creating a three dimensional surface. Check out our Shoe Gallery (Near middle of page). Can you guess the art style? 
“Art Shoes” Assemblages
From Pam Wellington
I do a project every year where the students decorate a shoe on a theme of their choosing. I show them a film on “car art”and visionary art. The results are amazing. I get everything from simply beautiful shoes covered in sequins, buttons, ribbons, etc, to more elaborate shoes turned into animals, theme parks, planes, you name it! You just need paint, an old shoe, hot glue and lots of craft materials. Maybe try “visual puns”… a Shoe fly… a House slipper… Shoe horn… .Horse shoe… use your imagination to picture these shoe sculptures. See more Examples in this lesson.

Shoes with a Theme – Here are States


Cathy Gaul went to the Philadelphia Flower Show a few weeks ago and took photos of a few of the pressed and dried flower entries. Every year they have themes for the entry categories. People have to use live and dried plant material to conform to the theme. These shoes were from a States of the US theme. Of course you can tell the big apple is NY, the sunglass one is Florida, and the boot must be Texas! You can interpret this idea into ceramics or a sculpture lesson… OR how about collage on old shoes? Altered shoes? If anyone does an altered shoes (or boots) lesson, please send examples – especially if they express a theme.

Shoes Metamorphosis – Catharine Ho – Hong Kong


Long paper (6″ x 24″ / 15 x 61 cm), Colored Pencils (or any drawing medium), white pencilsEbony PencilsKneaded Rubber Erasers.

From Catharine for sixth graders

This one begins with a story that gets the imagination going. I do a shoe drawing around Halloween and the kids get very excited. With my new grade 6 students, I always start the year quite serious so they still don’t know what to think of me. For this assignment, I rush them into the room and turn off the lights and tell them I have to tell them something before the principal walks by. I am very serious and speak in a hushed earnest way as I start the class with a story about a grade six class that went on a field trip to a middle school teachers house. This teacher lives on one of the outlying islands and had all the kids to her place for afternoon tea. What they didn’t know was that she only acted like a teacher but actually she was a practicing witch.

She gave these kids a cup of tea and witnesses say that only a bunch of disgusting bugs were seen leaving her house. The students were never seen again. All of the teachers in the school have been told not to talk about this but  I must warn you that the police were never able to convict the teacher because there was no evidence. (by now they are on the edges of their seats and their mouths are open). I am warning you in case you are ever invited to go to this teachers house. Don’t drink the tea! Wait till she’s not looking and pour it into your shoe. (They all want to know who the teacher is at this point so I start giving hints – I describe myself).

Now I let the cat out of the bag and tell them that the story was their inspiration. imagine you have just left the witch’s house and your shoe feels so weird and scratchy and it starts to sprout parts and move and you kick it off your foot. What is it? They are then handed a long piece of paper to be divided into four and they must draw the shoe starting with their regular shoe they are wearing and then slowly transform it (a metamorphosis) Emphasis is value and creating form using value and of course creativity. The results are great. (Note, Catherine has two resource books of shoes she share with her students.

Giant’s Shoes Larger than Life – or in a Giant’s World (smaller than life) – Getty TeacherArtExchange list member.

After doing line drawings of their shoes, my fifth graders did a drawing where they placed the shoe in an environment that changed the scale of the shoe.  The idea was to make the shoe appear much larger or much smaller than it is in real life.

Contour Shoes with Shoe Print Border – Jan Hillmer

After my 5th grade students did contour drawings of their shoes on 9″ x 12″ paper, I gave them 12″ x 18″ brown paper.  Using the bottom of their shoes and tempera paint, they printed around the edge of the paper. Some used their tread print in a random manner, some used a patterned approach. After the prints were dry, the drawings were mounted in the middle of the printed paper.

Who let the shoes out?” by Marcia Gibson – Arts & Activities January 2004

Contemporary artists who draw shoes.


Nicholas Albonico                         Robert Dvorak                                                              Kimberly – college student

Submitted by: Sara Gant- Shoes Sculpture – High School

There are many artists online who have shoes – these were just some I found doing a Google image search.
I thought I would be safe in putting these on the lesson. These artists would probably like that students may be inspired by their work.

From Teresa Sheffey:

Another fun shoe assignment is to have the students bring in an old pair of shoes. Use these to make a paper maché sculpture. They can turn them into any kind of fantasy shoes adding paper maché and then painting them. Or… you can divert from this, have them place the two together in an interesting fashion, and paper maché over to make an abstract sculpture. I did this in summer school and the students really liked it. Basically you are using the shoes as an armature if you do them the second way. They are a lot of fun to do. One fun idea is to turn them into creatures – give them a personality. Use plaster addition (plaster gauze) and build up facial features – what kind of character would that shoe be? What expression?

Greg Percy added that a middle school teacher had her student make all sorts of wacky shoes sculptures – then the display was “Imelda’s Closet” (and she tied in a bit of history/geography/social studies – with Imelda Marcos)

Submitted by: Justin Kramer – Ceramic and Sculptural Shoes

Submitted by: Marsha – Ceramic shoes

Submitted by: MaryAnn Kohl – “Shoes all about Me” Mixed media sculpture

Here’s a fun art project I just saw at an early childhood conference in Olympia, Washington – easy to do:

The idea is to make little flags on sticks to stick into the shoe like a flower arrangement, and the flags represent the child in some way… each flag is an artwork or an object.

Kids bring in an old shoe (boots are fun) of their own, or find one at a garage sale or value village type place. Fill with rice to support stick flags. Make “flags”… stapled, glued or taped (attach in any way) around ¼” thick sticks from the woods. (Note: The shoes and boots I saw had about three or four flags per boot/shoe.)

Flags I saw:
     small baby sock
     leaf pressed between wax paper pieces
     melted crayon
     self-portrait drawing
     objects of child’s… small toy, award, photo, etc.

Stick flags into rice in shoe and arrange somewhat like a flower arrangement. Use as a centerpiece or to enjoy in any way.

Objects can be returned to their original use… shoes are not damaged or ruined.

From Judy Decker:  Here is my twist to make it permanent… Use plaster to secure flags inside boot/shoe (thick mix so it will set up quickly). Plaster gauze the shoe – maybe even make a little face on the shoe shaping the gauze (on toe or on tongue of shoe/boot) — or using Celluclay Instant Papier Maché/paper pulp (optional: sculpt your hair style, too) Paint the shoe/boot to show mood/emotions with acrylics – or do your favorite “in the style of” artist/art style “ism” if you want… OR Spray paint “bronze like” for a real treasure. Layer brown/black paint – then gold for a rich patina — then put the items on the flags (spray paint shoe/boot before things are put on flags). If anyone tries this project idea – as MaryAnn wrote it – or with my twist – I would like an image for IAD … Super self esteem booster and fun to do.

Fantasy Shoes – in Polymer clay – Submitted by Jan Hillmer

Jan Hillmer found this site from Lucy Arnold. See her polymer clay fantasy shoes. Jan thought it would spark a lesson. Teachers without a kiln might want to experiment with polymer clay (Sculpey) or Air-Dry Clay.

Shoes Internet Resources:

Shoes paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol Shoes.

Book: The Art of the Shoe – Marie-Joséphe Bossan is a curator at the International Shoe Museum in Romans, the French capital of the shoe industry. This museum holds the greatest shoe collection in the world with 12,000 specimens.

Here is one of my favorite Warhol shoes Gee, Merrie Shoes, circa 1956 (Archive)

For mature students (connections to mental illness)… See Philip Guston | Images in Mark Harden’s Artchive | Work at Albright Knox Gallery | Van Gogh’s Shoes | Andy Warhol Diamond Dust Shoes. Expressionistic. Many works contain piles of shoes – particularly soles of shoes. Guston went through a period of mental illness. Younger students will enjoy seeing that shoes do not have to be drawn realistically all the time. What connections can you make to Guston’s pile of shoes to in his paintings and the room of shoes in Holocaust Museum in DC? (recommended by Michael Gerrish).

Fun Shoes Quote:

“These are my new shoes. They’re good shoes. They won’t make you rich like me, they won’t make you rebound like me, they definitely won’t make you handsome like me. They’ll only make you have shoes like me. That’s it.” ~ Charles Barkley

Suggestion from Michael Gerrish – Paint your Shoes – make a “lasting impression”

“…I am an erratic shoe painter. In my role as Art/Digital Media teacher I kept a pair of shoes which I wore on special occasions. I would paint the shoes differently to feature an upcoming lesson or activity and wear them unannounced. The buzz it caused around school helped promote the lesson concepts. And, when I run into ex-students they often recall a shoe encounter that made a “last”-ing impression… ” ~ Michael Gerrish Great ideas for middle school.