• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Abstract Painting

Page history last edited by Frank Curkovic 11 years, 2 months ago


(Elements of Art: Line, Colour, Value, Shape/Form, Space, Texture)

(Principles of Art: Balance, Contrast, Proportion, Pattern (Repetition), Rhythm/Movement, Emphasis, Unity, Variety)




  • The Elements of Art worksheet (week 1) (Criteria A)
  • The Principles of Art worksheet (week 2) (Criteria A)
  • "What is Abstract Art?" worksheet (week 3) (Criteria A)
  • All practice tasks done in class (Criteria A)
  • Planning phase (including research) (Criteria A) 



  • Your final abstract piece (Criteria B)
  • Reflection (Criteria C)
  • Personal Engagement & Interaction in class (Criteria D)


Key vocabulary: Abstract, Aesthetic, Asymmetrical, Balance (1, 2), Colour (1, 2), Composition, Contrast, Emphasis (1), Line (1), Movement (1), Repetition, Rhythm, Space (1), Shape (1), Symmetry, Symmetrical, Texture (1)

(Bold text=Principle or Element of Art)


Task Specific Clarification (Rubric) here



The Golden Age of Abstraction: Right Now (via ArtNews): Riffing on the past as it comments on our own time, contemporary abstraction evokes landscapes, bodies, signs, buildings, and much more


*Activities are subject to change at teacher's discretion

Week 1 - Introduction (Aug 22-26)

Distribute cover sheet and outline general overview of unit and assessment (Task Specific Clarification here).

You may download it from here if lost: Art 8.1 Cover Sheet-Abstract Art.pdf


Individually, how would you complete this sheet?

In small groups:

  • In small groups, or as a whole class, discuss or brainstorm, "What is art?" Be prepared to share your answers as a class. All students should document their notes in their Developmental Workbooks. 
  • Share answers as a class. Students are encouraged to add to their brainstorm. Then watch the following video and continue adding to brainstorm:


Look at this piece of artwork by French artist Marcel Duchamp (1917) pictured below.

In groups, discuss "Is it art? Why or why not?" Be prepared to share and defend your answers to the class.

*NOTE: The artist did not create this. It is a found object, which he signed.



Look at No. 5/No. 22. (1950) by Mark Rothko. This is an abstract piece of work.

"Is it art? Why or why not? Is it attractive? Why or why not? How does it make you feel?" 


Optional at home: Listen to what experts say about the above painting (note: extremely slow loading):



  • In your opinion, "What makes art attractive?" (Unit Question). Write down your answers in your Developmental WB and share them as a class. As students share their answers, students should add to their list. (Dictionary definition of abstract art here) (Do students understand aesthetics?)


  • In this unit, our significant concept is The principles and elements of art help us to create and evaluate art. Therefore, we will investigate some of the elements and principles of art.
  • The Elements of Art: Form, Line, Shape, Color, Texture, Space, Value

  • The Principles of Art: Emphasis, Balance, Harmony, Variety, Movement, Rhythm, Proportion, Unity

  • Several activities will be done in class exploring some of these ideas. Students are encouraged to experiment, explore and take risks! Sometimes the best results will be accidental. All work should be saved neatly! These pieces will all be formative assessments and will be used to help plan your final, summative piece.


Activity: (Teacher to decide which activity to do below)


Exploring Balance and Equilibrium

A4 paper size, paints are encouraged but markers may also be suitable.


The Art Critic Activity




Complete The Elements of Art worksheet, which is pictured below. (Formative Assessment-Required) Due next class.

Task Description:

The Elements of Art are the ingredients of art (line, colour, value, shape/form, space, texture).

You are required to do some research on the elements of art. You may use books or search the web. When done, simply draw a symbol or picture for each of the elements in the boxes provided below to help you remember what they mean. Do not include text. YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO USE COLOUR. This will be a formative assessment as part of the Knowledge and Understanding area on the unit rubric. 

You may download the worksheet here if you have lost it:

MS Art Gr8U2-The Elements of Art task sheet.pdf



Watch the video below (the video is a little advanced but well worth it). (Optional)


Week 2- Pattern and Repetition (Aug. 29-Sept. 2)

Collect & review homework task.


Patterns can be found anywhere. Surface patterns can be found everywhere in the design world. Pattern can also be used for inspiration in abstract work. By understanding how patterns work, artists can produce work for decoration, ornament, illustration, interior design and for works of art, amongst others. By delving into pattern, artists can utilise elementary designs or create more complex systems for artistic purposes.

View these examples how pattern can be used:


Activity: One Element, Many Patterns

Using half of an A4 card & marker:

1. Devise a single element, such as a dot, diamond, squiggle, or square.

2. Copy and repeat the element in columns or rows to make an overall pattern.

3. Vary the spacing of the elements in the rows to create variation.

4. Continue to create new variations by varying the size of the elements, by creating overlapping rows of elements, and changing the color, size, and orientation of elements.

Depending on time, we may use tempera paint, watercolour or marker.

Activity idea from  here .

Student examples:

Can you see the transformations? Why or why not are they successful? 



Complete The Principles of Art worksheet, which is pictured below. (Formative Assessment-Required) Due next class!

The Principles of Art help artists plan their work and think how viewers will react to it.
Following on from the previous task on The Elements of Art,  do some research taking notes or writing definitions/explanations on the principles below. This will be a formative assessment as part of the Knowledge and Understanding area on the unit rubric.

You may download the worksheet here if you have lost it:

MS Art Gr8U2-The Principles of Art task sheet.pdf



Week 3 - Variations in Tone (Value) (Sept. 5-9)

Review & collect homework task.


Look at the painting "Chief" (1950) by Franz Kline. How does it make you feel?

(MOMA link)(Painting techniques video from MOMA).

Use the Critical Analysis of an Artwork (in your folders) to make statements regarding this work.

If Critical Analysis of an Artwork is unavailable, open this page in another window as well, and place the two windows side by side on your screen if needed.


Optional background info:

Franz Kline (1910-1962) "...was an American painter mainly associated with the Abstract Expressionist painters who were centered, geographically, around New York. He was labeled an "action painter" (alongside Jackson Pollock) because of his seemingly spontaneous and intense style, focusing less, or not at all, on figures or imagery, but on the actual brush strokes and use of canvas."

You can look at the work of Franz Kline via Google images here.

(If you find this interesting, you may also look at the work of Robert Motherwell via Google Images here.)


Activity: Black & White 

As an activity, we will experiment with tone, contrast and composition.

We will use elements such as shape, tone, texture, contrast, equilibrium and composition.

We will focus on brush technique.

You will need paper or card. Depending on your brush size, paper size will also vary.


1. With your brush and black paint, draw thick lines on the paper so that a free and spontaneous composition results.

2. Fill in the rest with black and white paint. Take care that some grey tones are used besides the white and black in order to make the contrast tighter between the black and white.

Be careful not to overdo it so that your work turns muddy.

If time, feel free to do another one with a palette knife or, use analogous, complementary or monochromatic colours.





Watch the video below entitled, "What is Abstract Art?" Complete the worksheet that was distributed to you in your unit packs (pictured below). You may also download the PDF here if you have lost or forgotten it. (Formative Assessment-Required) Due next class!




Week 4 - Going Abstract (Sept. 12-16)

Collect and review homework.


View the pieces of artwork below by musician Karl Hyde. What elements or principles of art are utilised?





Activity: Abstract Doodle

Taking influence from musician Karl Hyde's artwork, create an abstract piece of work using ink, pencil and oil pastel.

Watch the video below for instructions.


Homework: Watch the video below on colour. This knowledge will assist you when you plan your work. (Required)


Week 5 - Hard-Edge Painting (Sept. 19-23)

Activity: Abstract Number Painting


Homework: Preview next week's activity and bring a full page magazine photo. (Required)  


Week 6 - From Reality to Abstraction (Sept. 26-30)

We may also use reality as a source of inspiration for abstract work. Artist Georgia O'Keeffe used flowers as inspiration for her work (as pictured below).


Activity: From Reality to Abstraction

Using a photo from a magazine etc., zoom in one section of the picture to create an abstract piece. You may focus on one principle or element of art if you wish.

Don't forget, you can also work via pattern. Here is how one student created a piece based on an apartment building.



Another student took inspiration from Q-tips to create a piece. This was then used as a painting.





You will begin planning your final composition next week.You may consider some of these artists below as inspiration, or one of your own. Each link directs you to a YouTube video on the artist. You are required to do some basic research on an artist that interests you. You may wish to include basic background information, but more importantly, you are to take notes on their style and/or technique. What was their subject matter? How did they find inspiration? What were their painting techniques? Did they use a colour scheme? etc.


You are also required to gather images to use as reference/inspiration and make documented annotations explaining why they have been included. Reference your works (Record the web address or book title). Record this information in your Developmental Workbook. This is assessed. (Required)

Note: You are not simply copying an artist, but are gathering influence and inspiration.

Wassily Kandinsky

Sonia Delaunay 

Kazimir Malevich 

Sophie Taeuber-Arp 

Piet Mondrian 


Robert Motherwell 

Paul Klee 

Kenneth Noland 

Frank Stella 

Willem De Kooning 

Jackson Pollock 

Mark Rothko 

Lee Krasner

Helen Frankenthaler

Gerard Richter




Browse through "Abstract Art Painting Ideas: Get inspiration and ideas for abstract paintings" as you will be planning your summative piece next week. (Required)



Week 7 - Planning (Oct. 3-7)

How can we find inspiration for abstract work? (Elicit answers from students)


Students share homework research with a partner.


Finding inspiration is sometimes difficult because we are painting from imagination. You could start with a simple idea and then brainstorm ideas and ways of interpreting them. If you have a vision of a warm summer day, how could we interpret that into an abstract piece?



You may also take influence from an element or principle of art.

In small groups, you will be given a poster of an element or principle of art. In your groups, consider how you might approach the idea "A walk on a rainy night" using the principle or element assigned to you. Be prepared to share your ideas with the class.


View the following slideshow (teacher to decide whether to watch in class or assign as homework):


It is now time to plan your own abstract piece. You should consider the elements and principles of art, especially composition, focal point, balance, rhythm, pattern and colour.

As an artist creating abstract paintings, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I simply want my abstract painting to be beautiful?
  • Do I intend this abstract painting to convey something specific to the viewer?
  • Do I want people to extract their own meaning from it?
  • What in the abstract painting is going to do this?
  • How will the elements (or principles) interact?
  • Do I want to guide the viewer's interpretation with my choice of title?
  • Do I want to write a statement to accompany the painting explaining how I created it, what my thoughts were while I made it, or what I see it conveying?
  • Does it matter to me if they don't "get it"? 

Plans can change, don't worry. It is important though that you have some idea of what you are going to do. Once complete, share your ideas with at least 2 partners. You will need to submit your plan for assessment. You need to create a series of drafts or thumbnail sketches to experiment and further develop your plan. With these sketches,  you should record some type of annotation/comment regarding the piece. Time management is essential!


Feel free to view previous student work:


Task Specific Clarification (Rubric) here.

A level 7/8 on Knowledge & Understanding indicates:

-You have gathered multiple images for your research (for reference & inspiration) and made in-depth annotations/comments explaining why they were included.
-You have made a series of draft/thumbnail sketches exploring composition and colour experiments, which reference your research.
-You have correctly referenced all information, both visual and written.
-You have used both formal and informal writing styles, including notes, bullet points, long and short paragraphs appropriately.


It is also important to especially consider colour. If needed, watch the video below again.



Homework: Continue to think about your plan. Are there any artists that you can take inspiration from? The key to this is inspiration, not to simply mimic or copy. It is recommended you gather photos for reference and inspiration. These should be ready for the next class. You will not have time to gather resources in class next week. ALL RESOURCES SHOULD BE BROUGHT TO THE NEXT CLASS. Review any necessary videos/slideshows as needed. (Required)


Week 8 - Summative Assessment (Oct. 10-14)

Before you begin, share your plan with 2 different students to get feedback on your decisions. Students may then begin working on their final project.

Review Application Indicators. A level 9/10 states:

-You have thoroughly followed and implemented your plan in an excellent manner.
-You have an excellent ability to incorporate and balance element(s) and principle(s) of art into your painting.
-You have been able to incorporate and apply brush and paint techniques in an excellent manner. This could include hard-edge, splatter, wet-on-wet blending, dry brush etc.
-You have an excellent ability to judge and implement various coats of paint as deemed necessary and applied it in a consistent and uniformed manner.
-You have an excellent ability to create and mix your own colours as necessary. (This includes value and hues etc.)
-Overall, the composition/harmony of your painting is excellent.


Homework: as required 



Week 9, 10, 11 - cont'd (Nov. 1-18)

Students work on final project. 


Homework: as required 


Week 12 - Presentation and Self-Reflection (Nov. 21-25)

You are required to submit a final reflection as part of your overall grade.

Review (10mins):

Unit Question: What makes art attractive?
Significant Concept: The principles and elements of art help us to create and evaluate art.

-Review your elements and principles of art worksheets.

-Review your planning sheets/thumbnails

-Review rubric

-Consider any influences/art movements, artists, styles, colour theory and principle/element of art you used.


In small groups, present your painting (25mins).

Please answer the following and use specific terminology/vocabulary taught in class:

  • Describe the standard(s) (the principles and/or elements of art) you used to plan and create your art.
  • Describe the progress have you made so far.
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses in your summative piece of work?
  • Is your artwork successful? Why or why not? (Consider composition, colour, painterly techniques)
  • What could you do to further improve your artistic process (Please provide details or examples for this)


When complete begin writing your reflection (30-40 minutes). Read Blogging for Reflection to get tips.


2012-2013 student work below:




Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.