Piet Mondrian Paintings
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), was a Dutch painter with varying styles, but he is probably most well-known for his abstract geometric style. The bold black lines, square and rectangular shapes, and bright primary colours make the style visually appealing to children of all ages, and easy for them to reproduce. I have done this lesson with children in Kindergarten to Grade 6; it is easily adapted to any age level. This style can be reproduced with paint as in this example, or even with crayons, pastels, or markers. It could also be done as a paper collage, cutting out and arranging squares of paper. This art can be made in varying sizes, from large paintings to small drawings.
I find this lesson to be great to bring together a series of lessons on the properties of art. Once the students have had some exposure to some of the elements of art such as space, line, colour, shape and form, and so on, this is a great activity to combine some of those elements into one piece of art.
I first show the students many pieces of Mondrain’s work. I am careful to expose them to a variety of work over time, not just the style they are focusing on that day. Mondrain’s earlier works of landscapes and trees are vastly different in style, and colour than his abstracts geometric pieces. I want them to appreciate that artists have different styles and skills than that which they become the most famous for. Artists make choices about the work that they do, and their styles can change over time.
To start, I display a variety of Mondrian’s abstract geometric pieces that the students will, hopefully, be inspired by. I ask the students what they notice. What they see. What they think. We discuss what techniques may have been used, what decisions were made and why. We bring back our learning to previous lessons on the elements of art and point out, in particular, the lines, colours, space and form used. What types of lines are used? Where is colour used? Where is it white? What shapes are used? Where are they placed? Discuss anything and everything related to the art! Before starting, I take down the examples of Mondrain’s art. Our goal is to be inspired by his work and to reproduce a piece of art in his style, but not to copy a work.
I provided the students with a medium-to-large piece of paper, brushes, and paint (black, white, red, blue, and yellow). I would have preferred large square paper, but I only had rectangular available. The students first painted the lines that they wanted, then filled in the shapes with colour.
The finished works were vibrant and striking and the students were pleased with the results.