Modern Art Projects: Playing With Acrylics

How A Modern Art Project Became a Complete Gallery of Acrylic Paintings

Modern Art grouping
Modern Art Projects Grouping for the Wall – WIP

Update to add: You can view the completed project in this post: Modern Art Grouping.

I do not have a love affair with Modern Art (the kind with the capital letters) and find myself raising an eyebrow when I reach that section of any art museum. I shake my head and hold my chin. I turn my head this way and that way, rarely seeing what others see. It seems quite simplistic and I find myself thinking that anyone with a canvas and brush could do just as well.

Mr. B is studying 20th Century art this year as part of his fine arts credit and because he enjoys art appreciation. I like to credit myself for his enjoyment of art but really I think he comes by it quite naturally and I have just been able to nurture it a bit along the way.

We decided we are going to tackle a few art projects as follow-up to his artist study, helping us to take the study to a higher level. I pulled my Great American Artists for Kids book off the shelf and flipped through several projects before deciding on the Mark Rothko activity. You may remember my thoughts on Rothko from a previous entry on Modern Art. I am not a big fan.

Acrylic Supplies for Project
Canvas and paints were from Michaels..very economical.

Since my son is working on adding a few painting projects using acrylics to his portfolio, we chose to adapt the activity from the Great American Artists book to use canvas and acrylics. The activity seemed simple enough and I was even game to give it a try. (The book suggests using cardboard and tempera paints.)

Purple Canvas
We mixed the acrylics with a bit of water to make it easier to cover the complete palette.

My son started with a black base and I of course chose purple. If I was going to do this project, I was going to really make it mine.

Using a Stencil
Mr. B painted with blue and green on top of his black base.

Mr. B came up with a way to stencil his blocks of color without making a big splotchy mess. He cut a hole in a piece of cardstock and then used it to paint his rectangular shapes. Smart. I just free-handed my rectangles, giving it a nice Modern Art feel.

Hole in my canvas
Note to self: Make sure the camera strap is around your wrist.

I dropped my camera onto my canvas and punched a nice hole….sigh. I am glad I am not a perfectionist.

Rothko in Progress
We worked on these projects over a week’s time so it is nice to have a space to keep the supplies out.

Mr. B always looks so serious when he is working on art. I think he gets into a “zone” and enjoys the process of creating. Isn’t that what art is made of? The inspiration, the perspiration, and the exultation of the completed project?

Measuring Off Canvas for Kandinsky project
Yes, it is an awful color. I fixed it later on.

After getting started, this project took on a new life. If we used all four of my canvases, we could group them all together for a sort of “modern art” show. We had the idea to do different artists and then show a variety of Modern Art styles. I remembered that my Pinterest art ideas board had a few we could choose from. I was inspired to try this Kandinsky style on my next canvas.

I painted the base this awful pink color (it was supposed to be peach). I measured off the grid for the circles and then filled in with some colorful circles, not worrying too much if they were perfect. In the end, it really honestly didn’t matter if they were a little off.

Acrylics on a Palette
Using a paper plate made this project easy to clean up.

I got serious and ended up using a paper plate for the palette. I kept the colors I chose separate from the box so when I needed to replenish I wasn’t confused about shades of colors. I ended up not liking the yellow at all so after it was dry on the canvas I painted it over with white.

In Progress: Rothko and Kandinsky
Here is a little of us working in progress. I am really not liking the pink background.

I decided I wasn’t thrilled with the Rothko project I did so I tried to think of a way to make it more my style…Rothko-With-A-Twist.

Burton Morris Style
This was fun. I ended up using the same colors as the Kandinsky project so the grouping will work together on the wall.

I saw this heart project on Pinterest from KidsArtists and loved the Burton Morris style. I painted a nice little heart over the hole in the canvas and now you cannot see it at all. Thanks acrylic paints for being so versatile and forgiving.

Modern Art Grouping with acrylics
The grouping coming together.

I also decided that I did not like the pink background for the Kandinsky style canvas. I did go back over it with colors that matched the other pieces in the grouping and the last step was to paint the edges black (which I did after taking this photo).

Birdcage Press Modern Artists game
Review for these cards coming soon.

Now there is one canvas left to add but we needed some inspiration. Funny how you get inspired by the simplest of things. I am currently reviewing some products from Birdcage Press (review to come soon) and one of the products is Go Fish for Modern Artists.  We were playing around with the cards this weekend and the inspiration for the fourth canvas came to us.

Birdcage Press Modern Artists - Klee
One of the cards from the set.

The cover of the booklet that comes with the cards gave me a great idea. How about a Paul Klee for the last canvas? It would look great on the one that we painted black. Now all we need to do is add the little squares.

Mr. B is going to work on this last Klee-inspired canvas this week and I am going to finish my Burton Morris heart canvas with a few more details. I will of course update this entry with our final product and the grouping on the wall.

So there you have it…our first Modern Art project gone viral. We started with Rothko, added in some Kandinsky, adapted to use some Burton Morris, and ended up with a little Paul Klee.

I have to admit that in the end I have gained a new understanding and appreciation for the Modern Art style. It is all about color and emotion. It is all about breaking a few rules and enjoying the process. I encourage you to also give acrylics a try with your children and not worry too much about the mess. We were able to clean up everything with paper towels and water. If you would like more ideas for art supplies, you can visit my Squidoo lens: Art Supplies for Kids.

This post has been submitted to the Homeschool Showcase.

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