This Miró inspired art project reviews and incorporates the concepts of organic and geometric shapes as well basic color concepts. Second grade artists create these painted masterpieces by combining shapes into a Joan Miró style creature, identifying and imitating the artist’s use of line and color.
The paper is first prepared with dry brush strokes of gray tempera to mimic the sized canvas of Miró’s famous compositions. The natural texture of the canvas creates a beautiful backdrop for his art. Students view artwork by Miró, taking note of the kinds of shapes and colors they notice again and again.
This lesson is filled with great art vocabulary. Here are some main points covered in the lesson.
Students learn that:
- Miró’s art is surreal (I emphasize dream-like or from the imagination) and abstract.
- Abstract art is not meant to look like real life, but can remind you of something from real life. In this case, creatures!
- Geometric Shapes have straight sides.
- Organic shapes are blobby, natural forms.
- Miró used line to divide his shapes into pieces.
- Miró used a limited color palette (the primaries plus black and green).
- Each section of the shape was filled with a different color.
- A shape or line can be a symbol and Miró had a collection of symbols he used repeatedly in his art.
- Pictures can become personal symbols to an artist.
We discuss and practice organic and geometric shapes on scrap paper as part of the introduction to this project.
Drawing our Creatures
After preparing the background students are instructed to use pencil and follow these directions. First draw a geometric shape for the body. Fill up your paper!
Next, draw an organic shape for the head.
Add Arms. They do not have to be the same on both sides. Keep the arms abstract.
Now create legs.
Use two or three lines to divide up the body into sections.
Would you like to draw lines for hair? Keep it simple.
Then we go back to Miró’s art and point out his repeated line and shape symbols creating a ‘visual bank’ for students to use. Second graders pick three to five symbols to draw around their creatures.
Then their work is traced in sharpie. We note that Miró used black as a color not just an outline, so if students choose they color in a few of their shapes with the sharpie markers.
When it’s time for painting, I prep the trays with all the colors they can use and review painting procedures. Students become concentrated artists! They paint all their shapes carefully and learn to keep their colors clean.
When they are complete I ask them to reflect on their work by filling out an exit slip, which asks for information on the artist then two things they like about their art and one thing they’d change. I use one of those 3-2-1 exit slip forms, but any form would do. While I’m handing out these exit slips, we talk about being specific in our reflections. Not just saying, ‘my art is awesome!’. -Not that it isn’t!- But the point is to encourage higher level thinking! I have been impressed with my students’ ability to apply their knowledge of the artist as well as work towards critiquing their work. These are big steps for little artists.
Modifying this Lesson for Special Needs Students
To modify this lesson I create a bank of shapes for each direction. This way students have a few choice in front of them and can more easily organize their thoughts. So one paper for possible body shapes, then flip to the next paper for possible head shapes, etc. Depending on the student I might also expect less elements in the drawing. Sometimes tracing is a problem for my special needs friends and so I will pre-trace their work before class and have the students get right to work on painting. presenting one color of paint at a time can also prevent kids from feeling overwhelmed.
I have also used the Roll-a-Miró game for this lesson with good results. So that is always an option as well. If you have any feedback for me, I’d enjoy hearing from you. Maybe you’ve taught this lesson in a different way and would like to share? I always like to hear from my art teacher community!