Modern Mondrian

Modern Mondrian lesson plan

Experiment with primary colors and geometric shapes in the style of Piet Mondrian! Create a template to make one huge, ultramodern design!

  • 1.

    Invite students to research art and theories of painting by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian (1872-1944). Notice his use of primary colors and basic geometric shapes divided by solid black lines. Find out how Mondrian used these basic shapes to represent real objects.

  • 2.

    To create Mondrian-like art, students cut 1/4-inch (6 mm) strips of oak tag or recycled file folders. Use them to create a grid-like web with various shapes of negative spaces between the strips, much like the black lines in a Mondrian painting.

  • 3.

    Use Crayola School Glue to place your pieces in a web that is slightly larger than Crayola Color Explosion™ paper. If Color Explosion™ paper is not available, construction paper can be substituted. Air-dry webs.

  • 4.

    Once dry, lay web templates on top of the black side of Color Explosion paper. Tape the edges to the work surface to hold the template in place.

  • 5.

    Students trace several of the shapes along the web’s edges. Refer back to a Mondrian painting to help determine how many lines should be left solid and black. When satisfied, remove the web.

  • 6.

    Encourage students to choose several shapes to fill with color. Consider the balance of the artwork---spread out the color shapes. Use sweeping lines that barely overlap. Enjoy the BURST of color that Mondrian could have only dreamed about!

  • 7.

    Provide an opportunity for students to share their Mondrian-like art pieces with small groups of classmates. Encourage the discussion of how each student incorporated Mondrian research into their original art.


  • LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
  • LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • MATH: Draw polygons in the coordinate plane given coordinates for the vertices; use coordinates to find the length of a side joining points with the same first coordinate or the same second coordinate. Apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world problems.
  • SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.
  • SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.
  • SS: Explore factors that contribute to one's personal identity such as interests, capabilities, and perceptions.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.
  • VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.
  • VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.


  • Possible classroom resources include: Coppernickel Goes Mondrian by Wouter van Reek; Piet Mondrian: 1872-1944; Structures in Space by Susanne Deicher
  • Students use the same template to create a diagonal design. Compare and contrast the different effects. Trade templates with classmates to make unique versions of a friend's map. Make multiple sheets using the same templates. Display with edges touching to create one large work.
  • Students relate Mondrian's work to a street map of their community. Brainstorm what the two have in common.
  • Using the coordinate plane, students construct original templates by naming ordered pairs located in all four quadrants. Switch ordered pairs with a classmate. Plot their Mondrian template. How do the two compare? How can the coordinate plane assist with creating a Mondrian template?