May 2, 2012

My Mondrian

When investigating about art with children one great artist to explore is Mondrian. It is fascinating to ask the children how they think Mondrian created his art and then ask them how they could create an artwork inspired by Mondrian.

Together you can explore different possibilities, different mediums and techniques.

My students decided to use black paper strips and paint. They tried painting the black stripes but they could not get them straight. Experimentation is a great way to learn, to find solutions and come to conclusions.

We talked about ‘abstract art’ and how some artists do not want to draw people or objects. They just want to do shapes and use colors. Isn’t this the soul of preschool art? I think that of all people young children are the ones who can truly understand abstract art.

I then showed a few Mondrian samples. They immediately made comments about the “primary colors” and the black lines. I asked them how they thought Mondrian did his work and they said paint and paper. I later brought a canvas to the children could see and feel it.

After some thinking, discussions, and experimentation (as I mentioned before), the students decided they would use white paper and glue black paper strips on it to make the lines. Then they would paint some of the white spaces with primary colors. 

As a group they decided they would paint only one or two rectangles with each of the colors. I allowed some exceptions based on a good argument. I would ask, “Why do you want to paint another yellow rectangle?” The answers were convincing like “because there are still so many rectangles not painted”, "because I like yellow more than the other colors", “because I painted many on this side but none on the other side.” I just did not want the children to get carried away and paint all the white spaces created by the lines. I wanted them to look at their artwork with a critical eye.

The first time I saw this project was in the fabulous book "Discovering Great Artists" from ManyAnn F.Kohl and Kim Solga. This book has so many ideas for art projects in the style of the great masters as it is said in the cover. I did one of MaryAnn's workshops in a NAEYC conference and it was absolutely wonderful. She is amazing and her books are a must have for any primary teacher.

Because of this book I did this project in the past many times.

Some of my former students chose to cut squares of different colors glue on white paper and then add the black strips to make the lines.

Others decided to do the lines with Kid Pix print the page and then paint the rectangles. Another group did the whole thing with Kid Pix using the bucket tool to fill the rectangles with colors.

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