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Making Modern Art: Fun with Mondrian

Updated on January 29, 2014

Piet Mondrian, Composition No.10, 1942

Piet Mondrian, Composition No.10, 1942
Piet Mondrian, Composition No.10, 1942 | Source

Art for All Ages

I believe in exposing art to people of all ages and backgrounds. As an art teacher I like to make art available and easy to understand for my students, no matter their age. I like to teach my students to create their own works of art through using knowledge from great artists of the past. I teach them about different art movements and artists in order to inspire them to create new works of art.

When I teach about Modern Art; a period of art that lasted from the 1860s well into the 1970s, there is so much to cover that it can seem overwhelming. This can feel especially daunting when dealing with a younger audience, but I find that by showing my students how Modern artists explored and simplified the use of colors, lines and shapes in their artworks, they will feel less intimidated by these paintings and begin to understand these works better. It doesn’t get much simpler in art than using a little bit of color, line and shape to create an artwork!

Tableau I

Piet Mondrian, Modert art, Abstract art
Piet Mondrian, Modert art, Abstract art | Source

Piet Mondrian

There are many Modern artists to choose from when creating a lesson. I like to introduce my students to artists they have never heard of before or may never hear of if not for my art class. These Modern artists were able to focus on the art itself and not the subject matter. Piet Mondrian was one of these artists; born in 1872 in the Netherlands, Mondrian was a Dutch artist but became a well-known artist in New York City where he later moved to and created what are now known as his masterpieces. He lived the later years of his life in New York City and died in 1944, leaving behind an array of modern paintings.

The concept behind artworks by renowned artists such as Piet Mondrian can be a bit difficult to convey to younger audiences but I encourage anyone interested in creating art to give this art project a try. It was a great success with my art students and they really enjoyed themselves.

Getting Started

Materials needed:

9x12 inch white, black, red, yellow and blue construction paper, scissors and glue.

  1. Introduce your audience to the works of Piet Mondrian. They will enjoy being able to recognize how Mondrian used straight vertical and horizontal lines to create his artworks. They will also be able to see that Mondrian used only the primary colors, red, yellow and blue, along with black and white in his works.
  2. Explain that you are going to create your very own Mondrian artwork using construction paper. Each of the students should have a white sheet of 9 x 12 inch construction paper and 9x12 inch black, red, blue and yellow construction papers.

  3. Instruct students to cut the black construction paper into strips; much like the horizontal and vertical lines they had seen in the work of Mondrian. Then they will have to cut rectangles and squares out of the red, blue and yellow construction paper.

  4. It is up to the students to create an arrangement on the white construction paper using the cut outs they have made. They should be able to use Mondrian’s paintings as a source of inspiration.
  5. Once they have created an arrangement they are content with they can glue down the pieces of construction paper. The arrangement should be simple and some of the white construction paper should be left untouched.

  6. In the end the art work should look like a Mondrian inspired art work and not a copy. Each students work should be unique and they should be proud of that!

Student Created "Mondrian"

Following the steps, young artists will be able to feel confident enough in their creation and proud of what they have accomplished.
Following the steps, young artists will be able to feel confident enough in their creation and proud of what they have accomplished.
Click thumbnail to view full-size

Give it a Try!

Whether you are an art student, art teacher or have never dared to create your own art try this modified yet easy lesson on how to recreate a Mondrian inspired art work on your own, with your students or perhaps with your own young children at home. It is a fun way to expose younger audiences to famous artists and make it easy for them to understand and want to learn. Let me know in the comments below what you think of the project or if you tried it for yourself.

Who is you favorite Modern Artist?

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