Art Project

Four-Letter-Word Artwork

Inspired by Robert Indiana’s Love

Robert Indiana, Love, 1973; collection SFMOMA, gift of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson; © Robert Indiana / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Key Concepts:

  • Materials and process
  • Color, shape, and line
  • Composition
  • Language in art


  • 6” x 8” paper in light colors
  • 3” letter stencils (or make your own!)
  • Colored markers, pencils, or paint
  • A pencil


  • Describe the lines, shapes, and colors you see in this work.
  • Look at this work from left to right and top to bottom. Is every quadrant (section) the same? How are they similar? How are they different?
  • When you think of the word “love,” what colors come to mind? What colors did the artist use? What if the artist had used different colors?
  • If you were going to make an artwork like this, what word would you choose? What colors would you use? Why would you use those colors for that word?


  1. Decide on a word with four letters that will be the subject of your artwork.
  2. Select a piece of 6” x 8” construction paper.
  3. Fold the paper into quarters by folding the paper in half and then in half again.
  4. Place the stencils, one in each quadrant, so that two letters are above the other two.
  5. Consider the placement of your letters, noticing how Indiana placed the letters in his work.
  6. Using a pencil, trace the letters of your word.
  7. Now, color in your letters. Consider limiting your colors to the number that Indiana used (generally three or four colors).

Relevant Information

The first Love work that Robert Indiana made was red, blue, and green. It was created as a Christmas card for New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1964. Indiana made many works that incorporated words and numbers. Using large industrial metal stencils for his letters, his work was then hand painted. The Love image became part of the visual vocabulary of the late 1960s and early 1970s, appearing on clothes, jewelry, coffee mugs, key rings, etc. This was the era of “The Love Generation” and the “Summer of Love.”


  • Did you place any of your letters at an angle like Indiana did, or in any different ways — upside down, sideways? Does the placement of the letters affect the meaning of your word?
  • Why did you choose the colors you did? How does the choice of colors affect the look of your design?
  • What mood or emotion does your work convey? How do the colors convey that mood or emotion?

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