Etel Adnan – The little red square


Lebanese-US-American artist Etel Adnan once said in an interview* that if she didn’t know how to start a new painting, she first of all painted a little red square somewhere.

“Red is the most powerful color of all. It needs to be tamed by other colors.”

After this she would add different colored shapes, one after the other, around the square. Slowly the shapes would form a complete picture, mostly landscapes. Knowing this, the red square can be seen in many of her pictures.

The work and life of Etel Adnan – not only a painter but also writer of poems, stories and theater plays – can teach children about the boundlessness of creativity both in genre and culture: Adnan speaks several languages and has lived, among others, in Lebanon, France, Greece and the USA.

“I figured out that there are many personalities in each of us.”

The idea with the little red square can easily be adapted together with your kids. I used acrylic paint but feel free to try whatever you have at home: watercolors, crayons, felt or wax markers or even cut color paper.


*German video interview on stern.de “Das Geheimnis des roten Vierecks”; DIY art idea and photo by me