Get Inspired by Jim Isermann

Jim Isermann (American, born 1955), Untitled, 2006, painted vacuum formed styrene. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Contemporary Art Council, 2006, 122-2006.

Design your own stencil, and then copy and repeat your design like artist Jim Isermann, who creates patterns that are repeated in a number of variations. 

Learn more about Jim Isermann here.


  • Two sheets of drawing paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Coloring supplies

Activity Instructions

Step 1

Think about a simple design, such as a geometric, abstract or organic shape, for your stencil that can be used to make repeating patterns. You might find a shape or object around you that you would like to use, such as a cup or a key.

Sketch out your idea for your stencil on your first sheet of paper. Remember you will be cutting out your shape, so make sure it is not too small and does not have a lot of detail.

Step 2

Cut out the stencil following along your drawing lines.

Step 3

On your second sheet of paper, experiment with the repetition of your shape to create a pattern. It could be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or freeform.

Once you have determined your pattern, use a pencil to trace the outline of your stencil. Repeat this process until you have finished your pattern.

Step 4

Color your shapes produced from your stencil! To make your repetitive pattern pop, you might use alternating colors, such as warm colors (orange, red or yellow), or cool colors (blue, purple, or green).

Step 5

Frame your artwork!