In addition to a variety of other styles, Spanish painter Joan Miro (1893-1983) practiced a style of art known as automatic drawing. Automatic drawing is a process whereby the artist makes random marks on a surface. Then the artist adds colors, or possibly pursues the suggestion of familiar forms. This approach is extremely different than the conventional method of drawing things or people around you. Miro and some of his contemporaries who also practiced automatic drawing believed the process frees creativity from the restrictions and limitations of rational consideration. In any case, automatic drawing offers the perfect art project for kids. Here’s how to get started:
What You Need:
- Ordinary printer paper (or heavier/thicker art paper if you prefer)
- Large sheet of construction paper (larger than the printer paper)
- Black marker
What to To:
1) Place your printer paper on top of the larger sheet of construction paper. (figure 1)
2) Close your eyes. Now, starting with your marker off the printer paper, rapidly make a swirl or line all the way across the printer paper.
3) Repeat step two half a dozen times or so. You can also make a few circles or stars if you like. Just remember to keep your eyes closed. (figure 2)
4) Now use crayons to color in some of the closed shapes that have formed. (A closed shape has borders on all sides.) (figure 3)
If you’re studying the difference between open and closed composition, note that the composition is open. The marks begin and end off the page. If you start and finish the marks on the page, the composition would be closed. Aha, you say, but what if you start the marks on the page and finish them off the page? In that case, the composition would still be open, because the forms or shapes are only partially contained on the page. For example, if you draw the branches of a tree going off your page (because there’s too many to fit them all on the surface), then you’re utilizing open composition.
Joan Miro practiced a method of art called automatic drawing that is perfectly suited for a kids’ art project. After you’ve had a few successes with this project, you can return to it with any number of variations. For example, trace your marks onto additional sheets of paper, and color each one differently. Good luck!