One of my little artists has a request, that we work on some abstract art. I ask her to show me abstract art. She chooses vibrant paintings full of color and abstract shapes by Bruce Gray and Reggie Laurent.
I print out these paintings and others by Laura Noel and of course, our inventor of abstract art, Kandinsky.
As an intro to the older art class, we discuss the artists, the titles of their work, what we notice about the paintings, repeated shapes, symmetry and asymmetry. We read the Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock and Mary Grandpré. This book describes the young Kandinsky, how he could hear two colors as they mixed, and how he could see shapes when he listened to music, and tells the story of how Kandinsky stops painting houses and flowers and starts painting what he feels.
On the table for materials, we offer large rectangles of cardboard painted black, colorful paper circles, glue sticks, hole punches. On the back burner, I have saved, sponges soaked in white paint (to be used as ink pads), circle-shaped found materials (to use for stamping) and thin paint brushes.
Some of the best art teacher advice I have ever received was to offer an initial provocation, but to always save something special behind your back, to take out at just the right moment, to extend/excite the art exploration. Half way through class, when the kids started getting bored with paper circles, I offered the paint and stamps and paintbrushes.
We added some Kandinsky Effect from iTunes radio, and the kids moved and glued, and punched holes and arranged shapes and painted abstract art.