STEAM SNACK: Abstract Self

Abstract art can come naturally to those girls who love experimentation and creative expression.  As adults we spend so much time telling kids to color in the lines and use the right colors, abstract art allows girls to jump at the change to express themselves any way they want. 

Why Abstract Art?

Abstract art is more about the shapes and colors and the feelings it expresses, not about staying in the lines.  Abstract art encourages discussion about color, shares, lines, feelings and thoughts, all concepts children are learning.  This is something everyone can do.

What if I’m not an expert?

Start by explaining what abstract art is NOT, so examples of realistic or naturalist art.  These pieces look like replicas of what the subjects are, the subject is easily recognized in the art.  Examples can be paintings of fruit, a house or other objects the girls can identify. 

Now show the girls several abstract works of art, one at a time, ask the girls if they can identify what the subject of the art is.  This will take longer to get responses do to the obscurity of the art.  Ask the girls what colors and shapes do they see? Ask them what emotions they feel while looking at each art piece and what they are thinking about when they look at it.

How do I get started?

Materials you need:

  • White paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Black marker/crayon
  • Coloring Materials

Tips and Tricks:

  • Prepare your self-portrait ahead of time add color and make it crazy.
  • Don’t show them examples of your self-portrait until after they draw theirs.  Children tend to make their work look just like the examples they see, we want them to let go of the control.

Here are some discussion questions to get the girls thinking:

  • What are some colors that represent feelings?
  • How about shapes, what shape can represent happiness, sadness?
    • There is not right answer and will differ from girl to girl, abstract is all about what you want things to represent.

The Badges:

This activity can be adapted to fulfill the following badge steps.

  • Daisy:
  • Brownie: Painting Step 3 – Paint a mood
  • Junior:  Drawing Step 1 – Experiment with different materials
  • Cadette:
  • Senior: Collage Artist Step 3 – Create with color
  • Ambassador:

The Science             

Define abstract art in terms the girls will understand based on their levels.  Simply, abstraction in art is a non-lifelike portrayal of real world objects, people and scenes that are usually hard for other peope to recognize.  Abstract art portrays what an artist feels and thinks, rather that what they see.  An abstract artist will use colors and shapes to express their emotions and ideas. 

We don’t always know what people are thinking and feeling and we don’t always know what abstract art portrays. You could always ask the artist, it is about the conversation.

The Activity

Abstract Self-Portrait

Materials: Paper, ruler, pencil, black marker/crayon, coloring materials

STEP ONE: Make diagonal folds on your paper, you do not want even folds that create squares.  You want it random, make about 5-6 folds, then use a ruler or strait edge to trace the folds with your black marker or crayon.

STEP TWO: Explain to the girls that they are going to fill the page with their self-portrait, use the whole canvas.  Oh and they are going to be doing this with their eyes closed!  Tell them not to worry you will be giving them directions on what to draw and it is abstract art so it is ok if it doesn’t look just like them.

STEP THREE: Grab your canvas, your pencil and close your eyes. Remind the girls though out the process to keep their eyes closed, they will want to peek.

STEP FOUR:

  • Start with a nice large oval for your face, remember fill your canvas, no small faces in the middle.
  • Now add your hair, and a neck you don’t want to be a floating head.  Now add your eyes, lashes and brows.  Remember eyes closed!
  • Now we don’t want to forget your ears, make sure to add one to each side. 
  • How about your mouth, are you going to be smiling? Showing teeth?
  • And don’t forget your nose! 
  • Now add any accessories you want, jewelry, glasses, hair bows, etc.

STEP FIVE: Have the girls open their eyes, ask if their art looks like them.  When they answer no, let them know that is good, it isn’t meant to, this is abstract art.

STEP SIX: Trace the lines of your face with the black marker/crayon.  Your face will be split into many shapes from the fold lines creating all new shapes.

STEP SEVEN: Use your coloring materials to finish your portrait.  Think about what colors you will use and how.  Complementary colors, contrasting colors, all one color but different shades, only a few colors or all the colors in the box.  Think about how the colors make you feel and how they will make others feel when they see your portrait.

Wrap up:

After completing the self-portraits, ask the girls:

  • How did you feel about drawing with your eyes closed?
  • What do you like about abstract art?
  • What don’t you like about abstract art?

An Abstract Snack: Animal Portraits

Materials Needed: toast, peanut butter, hazelnut spread, cream cheese, banana, strawberries, apples, berries, any topping you want to create with.

Prepare your toast to your liking. Prep your fruit by slicing to create different shapes and sizes to create your art.
Add the soft layer, peanut butter/hazelnut spread/cream cheese.
Add your fruit toppings to create your animal portraits or other art.
Remember this is abstract art, your final piece does not need to look like anything in the real world.

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