This project was inspired by the artworks of the Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor and ceramic artist, Joan Miro (1893 – 1983). An experimental artist who wanted to break free from traditional painting methods, Miro became associated with the Surrealist group in 1924, and was a pioneer of ‘automatic drawing’ – a technique in which the artist’s hand moves randomly across the paper, so that the resulting image is the product of chance and accident. Surrealist artists believed that by abandoning control of the mark-making, such drawings were a product of the subconscious, therefore revealing something of the inner psyche.
As described above, this concept would obviously be very difficult to explain to 3 and 4 year olds! However, at this age, random mark-making comes naturally to children – in fact, the Surrealists yearned to recreate the spontaneity of children’s art. So, when talking to the kids about Miro’s art I described his technique as “taking a line for a walk” – and that’s exactly what they did when it was their turn to get drawing!
Then each child took a permanent black marker and drew a line, trying not to stop or take the pen off the paper, so the line eventually returned to where it started.
Then I gave them red, blue, yellow and green gouache colours and small watercolour brushes to carefully colour in the shapes created by their lines.
Name Doodles: another version of this project
Miro’s graphic works, particularly his poster designs, often incorporate his name or other words within the linear composition. A variation of the project for slightly older children is use the letters from their name to create a Miro-esque doodle picture.
The first step is to write the letters randomly across the paper, turning the paper so that some are upside down or sideways, before drawing wandering lines from one letter to the next until all of the letters are connected and the paper is covered with a linear pattern. Then colour in with gouache or watercolours to create a beautiful abstract composition.
Below left: ‘Milano’ poster by Joan Miro, 1981 / Below right: Name Doodle by 8 year old