Thursday, May 12, 2016

In the Art Room: Abstract Painting with Fourth Grade

Confession: I'm not an abstract artist. By any stretch of the imagination. I just can't seem to unwind my mind enough to even think that way. So teaching abstract art kinda sorta freaks me out. However, with the help of Nashville artist Hannah Lane, I was able to happily, easily and, if I do say so myself, successfully introduce my kids to creating abstractly. 
For this three class period project (with an hour class time each), the kids learned about the artwork of Hannah Lane, met Hannah and then wrapped up their work with me. And, by the looks of how colorful and happy these pieces are, I'd venture to say that this was one of their fave projects this year. 
Because Hannah visited one fourth grade class, I only did this project with them. My other fourths were neck deep in other projects so just giving this lesson a test run with one group seemed like a good idea. I will definitely be doing this project again next year...with a bit of a twist. 
But first, let's talk supplies. We used the following:

* 8" X 8" canvas board (although gessoed cardboard would have worked)
* Warm and cool colors of tempera paint (I like Sax Versa Temp)
* ModPodge 
* Collage papers
* Stencils
* Puffy paint
The week before Hannah arrived we looked at a prezi I created about her work. We talked about her series of paintings and her style. I fielded a bunch of questions from the kids to ask her on the day of her arrival. Shortly after our chat, we painted monochromatic-ish paintings in either all warm or all cool colors with an abstract design. Here's an example:
The next art class, Hannah arrived. She brought her large crowd series painting (shown above) as well as a huge box of glorious paper scraps that the kids went gaga over. Once she shared more about herself and her work, the kids began collaging the paper in any manner they liked onto their canvas board. We used ModPodge to adhere the papers. 
I loved how each unique paper was precious! I heard lots of squeals at finding just the perfect paper. 
Hannah was so sweet with the kids, they truly loved her! I secretly thru some shiny fabric scraps into the mix just to see how that would work. I can't wait to use up my fabric scraps for this in the future!
The room smelled of ModPodge and excitement (which also smells like ModPodge, in case you are wondering). 
At the end of all that collaging, many pieces looked a little something like this...
They made me so happy! And the kids were thrilled.
After we said goodbye to Hannah, I was left with a bunch of happy artists...and collaged canvas boards. What to do with them from this point? I felt like they needed something more. Hannah had spoken about how she reworked her canvases after the collaging stage and I felt like the kids needed to do the same. Enter stencils and puffy paint.
Earlier this year, I had a huge assortment of stencils donated to the art room. For the occasion, I busted them out along with my sponge stampers. After a quick lesson on stenciling (as well as a chat about composition), the kids went to town. 
My students all have a deep love for puffy paint. As do I. It's the New Black in the art room, y'all. We had used it the previous week for our diner sign project (more to come!) and I knew they loved the stuff. I did have to remind them to show restraint and not go bananas with the stuff. It's like the salt and pepper, sugar and spice for your art work, kids. Not the main course. Don't get carried away. 
And they didn't! Seriously, these bright happies are my new fave! I see so many possibilities with future projects based on this. 

Have y'all done abstract collage/painting with your students? What have they created? I'd love to hear more!
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  1. Wow - These a Beautiful! The stencils and puffy paint really pulled these pieces together nicely. I'm inspired! I was just joking with my students how the smell of Mod Podge makes me happy. "It smells like creativity!"

    1. Haha! Yes, I do love the smell of the podge. The kids loved the magic of the stencils and, of course, PUFFY PAINT!

  2. Beautiful lesson Cassie! Sounds like fun! I would love to try this with my 4th grade too.

  3. I’m sure you will provide the more awesome blogs like these blogs that I’ve enjoyed a lot. Find the colorful abstract art by Marsh Bakko and choose your favorite abstract paintings only at

  4. Looks like a fun and enjoyable activity for the kids. We'll do these in my art class too.


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