What I love about abstract art is that there isn’t one way to create it. It takes the pressure off of perfection and allows art to be therapeutic. I personally love abstract art because the art is less about what “it is” and more about the emotional response it evokes. At this process art workshop, I really wanted kids to let loose and create in a way that felt right to them.
Students started our main project by selecting a large cut of cardboard to use as their canvas. So often kids work within a small workspace. I wanted to give the students an opportunity to work big.
To begin, I asked students to limit themselves to either cool colors or warm colors. For our first layer, I asked them to make any shapes they please, but to make sure the shapes do not overlap. We talked about how a shape can be geometric or organic. It was up to them what type of shapes they used.
While the first layer of our backgrounds dried, students selected a smaller piece of cardboard that had a shape removed from within, creating negative space. These smaller pieces came from scraps from previous projects. Art teachers are kind of like farmers; we never get rid of anything.
Students were asked to paint the smaller piece of cardboard using the opposite color pallet.
Once the first layer of their background had dried, I asked students to add another layer of shapes. This time, they could layer these shapes on top of what had already been painted. They could also choose to outline any shapes. I encouraged them to completely fill their canvas with this second layer of paint.
On day two of our workshop, the paintings were dry and ready for another layer. When students arrived, we talked about pattern. I gave each student a template sheet of various patterns they could try. Using metallic gold and silver markers, students added a variety of patterns within the shapes on their background.
Once patterns were added, students were ready to mount their smaller piece of cardboard on top. I encouraged students to play around with the placement and look at how the background visually comes through the negative space.
Some early finishers decided to use ribbon and yarn to embellish their work. I loved how one student used the yarn to sew additional lines to both the background and foreground.
To finish our abstract workshop, I wanted the kids to play with a new technique - scrape painting. In our last minutes of class, we used a cardboard scaper to drag dots of paint across the page. I encouraged kids to experiment with placement of dots, angle of the scraper, and direction of movement.
The scrape paintings were so beautiful! Students left the abstract workshop with huge smiles and a confidence in their creative abilities.