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Artist Jacob Armstead Lawrence
Game of Checkers

Jacob Armstead Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence lived from 1917 – 2000,
near Atlantic City, New Jersey.


Jacob Lawrence Self Portrait

Self Portrait
of Jacob Lawrence


Checker Players 1947

Checker Players Art 1947

Street shadows game of checkers

Street shadows Game of Checkers
  • A celebrated mod Naïve urban genre figure painter, storyteller and interpreter of the African American experience; illustrator, printmaker and graphic artist; mural painter and sculptor.

  • Artist Jacob Lawrence developed an abstract, early 20th century ‘modernist’ style using a variety of media such as crayon, fresco, gouache, pencil, ink, tempera, watercolor and oil.

  • Jacob’s renown was for his narrative series of tempera paintings that were expressive of his own life and that of his black peers who migrated from the South to the North.

  • The artist’s vivid canvases were covered in areas of color that gave the appearance of a large collage to create the scene depicting African American figures within genre and urban settings or cityscapes; Jacob Lawrence also created artistic expression with subjects such as animals, portraits, religion and mysticism.

  • Lawrence’s art often depicted a social realism in his commentary on the African American experience throughout the history of the race in the U.S.

  • After their parents separated, Jacob Lawrence and his two younger siblings lived in settlement houses and foster homes in Philadelphia until their mother could support them in New York.

  • By the age of thirteen Lawrence had discovered art as a means of personal expression and many of his themes came from observing the activity and rhythms of the streets of Harlem and later, through formal and informal art education, he became immersed in the cultural activity and fervor of the artists and writers who led the Harlem Renaissance.

  • Jacob Lawrence received a scholarship to the American Artists School and began to gain some notice for his dramatic and lively portrayals of both contemporary scenes of African American urban life as well as historical events.

  • Jacob’s artwork displayed a wide ranging style, but favored a narrative Synthetic Cubism.

  • His themes were depicted in crisp shapes, bright, clear colors and dynamic patterns as well as through revealing postures and gestures.

  • Artist Jacob Lawrence used bold planes of vivid color and symbolic elements of African American heritage of struggles, aspirations and accomplishments.

  • Game of checkers artist Jacob Lawrence's simple, stylized depiction of day to day life can be seen in his tempera painting, ‘The Checker Players’, where he represented with clarity two players engrossed in a game of checkers while others look on; his images found expression in the flattened and abstracted treatment of the checkers players and the checkerboard motif.

  • ‘Street Shadows’ also represented another urban cityscape showing the leisurely afternoon activities in the neighborhood, including a game of checkers on the sidewalk with onlookers taking in the play at the checkerboard behind the players and from windows above them.

  • Though both checkers scenes were abstracted and two dimensional, the mood and busyness of the time remained clear and easy to visualize.

  • Artist Lawrence was partial to using a series format to convey his themes in the form of a narrative and his fascination with movies during the Depression inspired his technique in storytelling, especially during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.

  • To create consistency in the images so that the story would be clear, he devised a method of using story boards to develop the sequence of ideas employing every aspect, edge and angle for its physical, social, historical and economic significance; his system was to lay out the panels on the floor of his studio, designing rhythms of vertical and horizontal hardboard panels, each the same size so he could see all the panels of a series together and paint the different images at the same time, thus creating unity in the theme and storyline.

    Style of Jacob Lawrence

    • Jacob Lawrence first wrote captions and completed sketches for each scene; then he drew directly onto gessoed hardboard panels and systematically applied one color at a time to each panel, beginning with black and moving on to lighter tones.

    • Often his colors were unmixed so that they would not vary from one panel to the next and then added white to make lighter shades of different colors.

    • Artist Jacob Lawrence's selection of colors black and burnt umber to cadmium orange and yellow created an overall unity and consistency.

    • Artist Lawrence repeated motifs, shapes and words throughout his narrative series and in the Migration Series, the repetition of an enlarged single spike or nail, chain links or lattice, hands and the hammer act as refrains in the lives, experiences and struggles of African Americans.
Jacob Lawrence left an amazing artistic and historical legacy through his visual imagery.









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DeerLake Online Store Items

Wonder Mugs Play checkers online, and enjoy drinking from this cool wonder mug.
When adding hot liquid, the colors of the mug will change, checkers cool.

Checkers is a two-player game, where one player is assigned white-chip checkers and the other red. The aim is to play checkers online, capture all of the other player's checkers or make them impossible to move.

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