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Hard Edge Painting

Explore this hard edge painting technique and create a simplistic work of art in the style of artist Milton Avery.

  • Grade 5
    Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Milton Avery focused on color and shape more than detail in his paintings. View examples of Avery’s work. Can students recognize the forms in the images, even with the absence of detail? What are the subjects of his paintings? Did Avery use realistic colors, or do they seem randomly chosen?
    2. This style of painting, using solid, flat areas of color, is called hard edge painting. Avery does not blend the colors in his artwork. Each color has a distinct edge.
    3. Students recreate a personal photograph using the hard edge painting technique. Have a copy of the photograph to refer to when painting. Remember, this style of painting is not about detail, so it does not need to be realistic.
    4. Cover the work area with recycled newspaper, and have clean water handy to wash the brush between colors. Younger students may want to wear a Crayola® Art Smock. Start by lightly sketching the outlines of the figures and background objects in your photograph with Crayola Colored Pencils on a heavy sheet of white paper.
    5. Using a wide, flat brush loaded with Crayola Washable Paint, fill in the forms with bold colors. Be sure to paint with even strokes to get a solid fill and let the paint dry before moving on to the next color to prevent blending. Continue this process until the entire painting is alive with color! Allow the painting to dry completely, and then mount on a sheet of brightly colored paper.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    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: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

    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 in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    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: Identify and describe ways family, groups, and community influence the individual's daily life and personal choices.

    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.

  • Adaptations

    Students work in small groups or teams of two to research the background of Milton Avery and his unique style of art. Research is organized into an electronic format to share with classmates.

    Students write a summary paragraph to accompany their hard edge painting. Students should consider how one identifies the subjects in each painting; compare the paintings with original scenes or photographs; analyze the simplicity of the artwork, etc.

    Encourage students to investigate artists of the same time period as Milton Avery. How were the styles similar? How were they different? Students write a summary and be prepared to share their learning with classmates.

    Challenge students with a live figure drawing study. Use a volunteer parent or teacher as a model and create a series of hard edge paintings. Students focus on visualizing the simple shapes and forms that make up each pose. Use colors to help create mood.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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