Abstract Art

Like many others in the world of education, I have been exploring the new Common Core State Standards. The art standards are not officially out yet but they have released a little information about each of the units. Some of the information they have released are all of the pieces of art associated with each unit. Agree or disagree with the standards, they are here and I must get to know them! So I took the artwork from 3rd grade unit 5 and created my own lesson with them.

The six pieces of artwork include the following:

Students talked about each of these by noticing deeply, something we had just discussed before their trip to the Chazen. Noticing deeply is asking questions, making up stories of their own, noticing shapes, colors, composition and everything else they see in the artwork. We spent quite a bit of time discussing how we thought each artist created their work and what story it might tell. At the end of our discussion, I revealed to them how each piece of art was made and demonstrated how they were going to create artwork in the style of each of these artists.

They spent a class period moving between four stations.

1. Using yarn to create action art like Jackson Pollock

2. Using straws to blow paint like Sam Gilliam

3. Using tape and brushes to create color blocking like Morris Louis

4. Poured paint on paper to create color blocking like Helen Frankenthaler

I am usually really good at taking pictures! But I forgot, each of the five times I taught this lesson, to take photos. But the kids LOVED this art class! Many of them told me it was their favorite. It was a wonderful opportunity for students to explore paint in a way that they may not have ever done before. They ended the class with four paintings each.

The next class, we took a good look at some of Sam Gilliam’s other work.

And watched a video of Sam Gilliam discussing his artwork. He overlaps shapes using positive and negative space. He creates a relief sculpture, which is a type of sculpture that is found on a wall or made integral to a wall’s surface, by cutting canvas that he painted and putting it back together in new ways.

Students cut their four paintings to create a new piece of artwork in the style of Sam Gilliam.


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