Abstract Art

19 March 2011

Group work casting masks

The second graders drew images of abstract faces. We used plaster and life masks to cast realistic faces. Then we’re going to make them abstract by cutting, rearranging, appropriating other materials.

Objective: Describe and create a piece of abstract art, or art that does not strongly represent the actual object.

Project: Begin by having students paste about 4 to 5 pieces of colored tissue squares on a larger sheet, canvas or board. They will do this precisely to start off class, giving the glue time to dry.

I used this PowerPoint. Abstract Presentation

Abstract art: Doesn’t look like the real thing.

There are only two rules...


Several examples

To explore abstract art, student artists create “blind contour drawings”. Work as a pair, each student having a piece of paper. The students make portraits of one another, drawing the partner without ever lifting the pncil from their paper. Children should draw very slowly and look only at their partner while drawing. When the drawings are complete, have children show the works to one another. The results will be abstract faces.

Realistic art: Looks like the real thing.

Albrecht Durer's painting of a young hare

My artists have been studying portrait, so they will be creating the portrait of a class member, using the blind contour method.

Distribute images from magazines or newspapers of fairly simple scenes or objects (a teapot, a close-up portrait, sneakers, etc. ) Point out that these images are realistic. Review the definition of realism– images that are true to life. Then, have children carefully cut their images into four different section and rearrange them on their desk. The resulting recombined images are abstract. Their resulting compositions no longer describe the object as it would appear in the obserable world. Then, have children select one shape and one color to represent their object. This, too, can be a form of abstract art.

Abstract art: Does not look true to life, or realistic.

abstract sculpture by Constantin Brancusi

Art example on which to focus: Constantin Brancusi’s Bird in Space (1928) ask:

What do you see?

The title of this piece is Bird in Space. What makes it look like a bird?

How did Brancusi design Bird in Space so that it looks very simple?

Why do you think Brancusi made his idea of a bird so simple and abstract?

Matisse’s The Snail (1953)

what do you see?

What colors and shapes do you see?

How did Matisse create a spiral in this piece?

What animal has a spiral?

Is this a realistic or abstract piece of art?

Turn this realistic group of fruit into an ABSTRACT group of fruit!



This food looks real...it's a photograph!

1. Choose a fruit from the group above.

2. Choose a shape to represent that piece of fruit. Draw.

3. Choose a color to represent that piece of fruit. Draw.

Here are some examples that the second graders created!

abstract art created in class!

So the students were then able to work independently and paint on plastic sheets to make their abstract fruit or vegetables, using the same guidelines of one color and one shape. The paint we used was Pebeo brand “arti’stick”. You can find info on their website http://www.pebeo.com


Artist working with his now-wet-later-to-be-peel-able-paint


About Ms. O

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