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UWCSEA Gr6 Art - Unit 4 -Abstract Painting

Page history last edited by Frank Curkovic 9 years, 3 months ago


“Losing Touch with Reality”


Enduring Understanding: The principles and elements of art can help us to (understand and) create art.


Guiding Questions:


  • What is Abstract Art?
  • What are the principles of art?



  • In abstract art, are there abiding principles, or does anything go?
  • How can we find inspiration for creating abstract art? How can we abstract the world around us?



  • What makes a painting successful?



By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  • utilise (macro) photography
  • transform photos with simple effects/filters, levels, & exposure/contrast/hue through iPhoto and Photoshop
  • compare/contrast/analyse various works of art
  • plan & develop a composition by focusing/applying a principle and/or element of art
  • understand & apply some colour theory (complementary, analogous, etc.)
  • develop brush control skills whilst applying paint
  • develop skills for creating tints, shades, tonal variation with tempera paint
  • create an abstract painting based on (photographing) the natural or man-made world


Key Vocabulary:  

abstract, non-representational, composition, brush work, Photoshop, filters, effects

Review the Elements of Art: line, colour, texture, value, shape, form, space

Principles of art: balance, contrast, emphasis, movement/rhythm, pattern, unity. 

*The principles of art are the rules, tools and/or guidelines that artists use to organize the elements of art in an artwork. When successfully combined with the elements of art they aid in creating an aesthetically pleasing or interesting work of art.



Week 1 - Pre-Assessment

Pre-assessment Painting Task (40mins):

Using one of your photos from the previous unit as inspiration, transform it into an A4 sized abstract painting using tempera paint. 

Consider your composition (balance), use of colour & your use of paint & brushwork.

Here is an example:

Tidy up (10mins)


Photograph your painting. Title it "Name-Tutor Group-Gr6u4 Pre"

Create a subfolder in your Art folder for unit 4.

Upload your pic to your folder.


**Pre-assessment reflection will occur in the next lesson


Unit Outline (5-10 mins)

Write homework in planners.



Watch the following video and consider the following questions:

What is abstract art? How can we understand a painting? What can we look for?

(These questions can be answered collectively)

Be prepared to share your answers in the next lesson.



Week 2 - Analysis & Ideation

Warm-up: What is Abstract Art? Share your ideas from your homework.


Review the Elements of Art from previous unit: line, colour, texture, value, shape, form, space

5 min Research: What are the Principles of Art? List.

(Note: these can vary depending on websites etc.)


Pre-assessment Reflection (10-15mins):

Self-evaluate your painting using the pie chart sheet.

In groups of three/four, discuss the following:

  • How do you feel about your work? 
  • What were your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What could you focus on improving during the course of this unit?

Glue the pie sheet in your book.


Conceptual Question: 

In groups, brainstorm the following in 5 mins:

  • How can we find inspiration for creating abstract art? 
  • How can we abstract the world around us?


Look at your photos from the previous unit. Have you also used any principles of art?


Painting examples:

View the following works of art below. Using the Critical Analysis sheet, discuss the work.

"Canna Red and Orange" by Georgia O'Keeffe 1922


No. 5/No. 22. (1950) by Mark Rothko


"Chief" (1950) by Franz Kline


Kenneth Noland 



Gerard Richter



What elements/principles were used? What was used as inspiration?


Unit Task:

The Arts Dept. is holding an abstract art exhibit entitled "Losing Touch With Reality."

You will be required to create an abstract painting based on a photograph you have taken from the natural or man-made world.

(Therefore, you may not use an image found online.)

Your photograph can focus on 1, or several of the elements or principles of art.

If you wish, you may apply effects/filters to your photo using Photoshop, or another app.

Your painting will be approximately A4 in size.

You will be evaluated on:

  • your overall composition (framing, balance etc.) ***Don't forget to focus on principles/elements of art.
  • your use of colour (creating and mixing colour, tints/shades etc.)
  • your brushwork (coats of paint, hard-edge, blending, control of brush etc.)

Winning artworks will be put on display in the gallery. Good Luck! 


What makes a painting successful?

Review rubric here.



Try taking some photos that can be used as inspiration for your painting project. 

Remember, they can be natural or man-made objects.

Everyday objects can also be possible.

If you can, also look out for the principles/elements of art.

Remember to look for shape, colour, line, pattern etc.


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.


Browse through "Abstract Art Painting Ideas: Get inspiration and ideas for abstract paintings". (Optional)




Week 3 - Abstracting Photos

Warm-up: Read the following to students:

For the following activity, you will need to listen carefully to the instruction.

You may use a pencil or a pen. Use half a page. Divide your page in half.

You have 10 seconds for each of the steps. You need to work quickly and not worry about perfection.

Each step builds, that may result in an abstract piece of work.

You should't talk. Focus.

Get into groups of 4. For each step, you will rotate your books to the next person.

  1. Create a series of varied lines in your space (soft, hard, thin, thick, dotted, curved, straight)
  2. Overlap some basic "geometric" shapes on your paper. Size is up to you. 
  3. Draw 2 more "organic" shapes to demonstrate contrast. This can be shown by colouring 1 in and leaving the other empty, or through size etc.
  4. Create a repeating element somewhere on your paper.
  5. Look at the work. Create emphasis in a section. Keep harmony and balance in mind. How can you do this?

You should have your own book. 

Look at your work. Could this be a painting? 


Today's lesson will be about Photoshopping some of your photos that you have taken.

If you did not take any photos, you may use the ones from the previous unit.

Select 1-3 photos you have gathered to manipulate.

Step 1: Watch the tutorial video below. You will simply use filters. Watch a few steps, pause the video and then try yourself.

Save your photos. The video shows this at the 5min10sec mark.


Step 2 (Time permitting): Import your photos into iPhoto and try playing with the crop tool under Edit.

If you have not updated iPhoto yet, you will have to use an online photo editor, such as Fotor or Pixlr. You may use another of your chose too.

Feel free to play with settings and editing features here as well.

Also try rotating your photo. You may get a more interesting composition!


Step 3: Do a gallery walk of your most interesting photo.


Step 4: Back up your photos to Google Drive. Create a sub-folder ("Photoshopped Photos") in your unit 4 folder.



Watch the video below on using the colour wheel. (link)



Week 4 - Painting Layers

In order to maximise class time, today's lesson may appear mixed up.


Step 1:

You will be given a sheet of paper. Write your name and tutor group on the back.

Choose 3-4 colours and fill your page with paint.

Try to keep balance in mind.

Use varied brush strokes: paint smoothly, rough, long strokes, short strokes, dabs etc.

Remember Franz Kline?

Try not to worry. It is almost impossible to do this wrong.

Start with your lightest colour.

Your goal is creating balance. Try not to make your colours muddy.

Below is a finished example.


Step 2:

Photograph your work.

Place your painting off to the side to let it dry.

Wash your palette and brush.

Next, open one of your abstracted Photoshop pictures.

Play with crop and/or rotation.

How abstracted is your photo?


Step 3:

Look at the following painting "Spell" by Yelena James.

What principles or elements have been used?

Consider: Take Yelena James' artwork and mash it up with one of your photos?

What would her work and your photo look like if they were blended together?

This is what your painting will be. You could simply take one of her elements and use it in your work.


Step 4:

Go back to your painting in step 1.

Using white paint and a piece of cardboard, you will squeegee the white paint all over your work.

After this, if you wish to apply more paint with a brush, you are welcome to do so.

Below is an example.

Photograph your work. Wash your palette etc.

You have created a background layer for your painting.

You will continue this in the next lesson.



Week 5 - Painting


Look at the following work by James Jean.

What principles/elements of art have been used?

What could have been his source of inspiration for this piece of work?

How do you think this art work was actually made?

Note his use of layers. Are there any similarities between this piece and the piece by Yelena James last week?


Task: Using the work you created last week, begin adding new layers.

Remember, you need to mash Yelena James' techniques/approaches with your abstracted photo.

Carefully consider your colour scheme. Look at your layered background from last class. That can assist in choosing your colours.

Play with line weight. etc.

Carefully consider brushwork. Don't load paint on your brush.

Could there also be any techniques from the first unit on drawing that you could apply?

Review rubric here.

What is required of you to succeed?

Today's goal is to add and complete a new layer to you work. Decorative techniques are encouraged.


Homework: (Optional) If you can, try attending an Open Art Studio session if possible (Mon/Wed/Thurs after school)





Week 6 - Painting

Continue with your painting adding a new layer.

Remember, you can focus on non-representational art, but if find that difficult, you can represent aspects in the photo.

If you are unhappy with how your painting is going, do you wish to start something new?

If so, your time is limited, but some of the artists below may interest you.


Piet Mondrian 


Robert Motherwell 

Paul Klee 

Kenneth Noland 

Frank Stella 

Willem De Kooning 

Jackson Pollock 

Mark Rothko 

Lee Krasner

Helen Frankenthaler

Gerard Richter

Kazimir Malevich 

 Sophie Taeuber-Arp


Week 7 - Painting

Continue with your painting.


Week 8 - Painting

Continue with your painting.

Today is your last class session to paint.




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