String Painting Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students are going to create a small portfolio of abstract art. In the process, they will learn to talk about the processes and methods of abstract art as well as learn to describe art analytically.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define the ideologies and methods behind abstract art
  • Identify several notable works of abstract art and describe them analytically
  • Appreciate the impacts of colors and methods on the creation of abstract art

Length

60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.C

Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.D

Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.2

Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.

Materials

  • Slideshow of non-representational and abstract art
  • Several pieces of blank, white paper
  • Strands of yarn, 12-18 inches in length
  • Tempera paints, or paints of similar consistency
  • Watercolor paints

Instructions

  • Begin with a slideshow of abstract, non-representational art. The slideshow should include paintings from a range of artistic movements, potentially including Cubism, Suprematism, De Stijl, Abstract Expressionism, and Minimalism.
  • As you go through these works of art, ask students to consider the following questions and debate them as a class.
    • Why do artists create works that do not have a subject? What is the point of these paintings?
    • What is art for art's sake? By abstracting objects into simple shapes and colors, what can artists explore? Why can't they do this with representational art?
    • With paintings like Pollock's, what role does chance play in the final product? Why would artists abandon control of the final composition? Can the process of creating art be as important as the final composition?
    • Do these paintings look unpleasant? How do artists maintain a sense of aesthetic control and harmony when working with abstract art? What role does color play in this?
  • Hand out sheets of blank, white paper to students, as well as paints, brushes and five pieces of yarn.
  • Write these instructions on the board so that students know what they'll be doing before they begin. You may consider demonstrating the process as well:
    • Mix paints to achieve desired colors.
    • Dip one piece of yarn into paint, holding one end so that it remains clean.
    • Lay that piece of string in desired patterns onto the paper.
    • Gently fold paper in half so that both sides touch the paper, then unfold it. This should create a mirrored image on the paper.
    • Repeat process with the other four pieces of yarn.

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