Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lesson: Elementary Class Group Abstract Painting Based on Jackson Pollock

This was a great end of the school year Art Smart lesson for a 5th grade class. We looked at the paintings of Jackson Pollock and then had the students take turns in groups of 4-5 and spent 5 minutes each at the canvas.  Tools used were sticks, brushes and paint filled bottles. Paint: Tempera. Support: Gessoed stretched canvas (bought as stretched canvas but may be less expensive if you do it yourself).

Finished painting was donated to the school as a "farewell" present from the graduating 5th grade class but project could be done as a "thank you" to a teacher, parent, etc.

  • Give parents a day or two notice about this project so that kids can arrive wearing old clothes (and shoes). Tempera will stain (and if using acrylic, hardens quickly. Rinse immediately).
  • We used tempera paint but if you have access to acrylic, I would use that instead.  Tempera has a tendency to crack if applied too heavily.
  • Prepare a space in advance where the painting can lie flat and undisturbed for 1-2 days.
  • Have at least 2 (3 is better) parents/docents on hand.  One to man the paint refill station. One to closely monitor the group at the painting.  We had one child while the docent's back was turned take a large brush and write his name in 18" high letters on the canvas (luckily we had enough time to paint over it before the class end). Also to watch for kids that tend to get carried away with gestural strokes  and need to make sure inadvertent paint fights aren't started.
  • Also have drawing materials out for the kids not currently in the painting group so they have a way to occupy their time.
  • Use 5 or fewer colors. Suggest one color per each student in each group.
  • If I were to do this project over again, I suggest use the 3" brush only at the very beginning to cover the surface and then use the sticks/bottles. Otherwise, some of the detailed drips and spills may be painted over with the large brush later on.

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