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Mondrian Madness

Create a “Mondrian-like” world by simply using squares, rectangles and primary colors!

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. The De Stijl art movement took place from 1917 to 1931. DeStijl artists made abstract art that was as simple and basic as possible. Introduce students to this bold art movement that existed from 1917 to 1931. Lead a group critique of the artwork of Gerrit Rietveld, Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian. Compare and contrast the unique ways in which each artist used simple shapes and primary colors in their art.
    2. Focus on the paintings of Piet Mondrian, an important contributor of the movement. His non-representational paintings consisted of a white background, a grid of vertical and horizontal black lines and the primary colors.
    3. Challenge students to create a “Mondrian-like” drawing that will contain elements of his artwork. Begin with a contour drawing using a black Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencil on a white piece of paper. Encourage students to draw large filling in the image with vertical and horizontal lines.
    4. Next, use Crayola Classic Markers to color in the squares and rectangles that were created. Use only red, yellow, blue, black and occasionally leave a box white. Emphasize good craftsmanship, which can be achieved by slow and focused coloring.
    5. Finally use a black marker to go over the original colored pencil contour drawing for a bolder effect.
    6. Provide class time for students to share their Mondrian-like artwork with classmates, discussing the processes used to create the artwork and important information they learned about the DeStijl movement.
  • Standards

    LA: Express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

    LA: Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    MA: Identify and describe shapes.

    MA: Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes.

    VA: Use observation and investigation to make a work of art.

    VA: Use art vocabulary to describe choices while creating art.

    VA: Categorize artwork based on a theme or concept for an exhibit.

    VA: Collaboratively brainstorm multiple approaches to an art or design problem.

  • Adaptations

    Investigate the artwork of Op Artist Victor Vasarely. Optical Art is comprised of illusion and appears to be moving or breathing due to its precise, mathematically based composition. Vasarely developed his style of geometric abstract art working in various materials but using a minimal number of forms and colors: Show students how to create an optical illusion using rulers, compasses, repeat patterns, contrasting colors with Crayola Markers and shading with Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils. Demonstrate a few easy op-art illusions. For example, draw a circle with a compass and drew three vertical lines slightly bending left on the left side inside the circle and three vertical lines slightly bending to the right to appear as though it is a sphere. Next draw horizontal lines on the upper portion bending slightly upwards and the bottom lines bending slightly downwards. Draw a checkerboard using a ruler around the circle and this will create a powerful illusion of the ball bouncing out of the background. Color the sphere and background with contrasting colors for the full optical effect.

    Josef Albers created a series of paintings and prints from 1949 to 1976 entitled, Homage to the Square. He explored chromatic interactions with nested squares. Each painting consists of either three or four squares of solid planes of color nested within one another. Show students the series of squares by Albers.

    Have students explore color like Albers using Crayola® Tempera Paint. Put recycled newspaper down, get brushes, container of water and put smocks on. Have students cut out four squares, each larger than the next with white paper. Next, mix different tints or shades of color. When squares are dry, glue together using Crayola Glue. Have students create a series of the square paintings and display them on a bulletin board so illustrate the amazing effect colors have against each other.


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