Going Dotty for the Spotty: Pre-school Installation Art! (October 2013)

blog DSCF6756

This exciting session evolved from the previous week’s project, The Big Colour Mixing Challenge (click here for that post).

blog DSCF6533I had asked my pre-schoolers to mix as many colours as they could using only the primaries – red, yellow and blue – and use them to fill a sheet of A3 with spots.

My starting point for that project was the trademark Spot Paintings of the British conceptual artist Damien Hirst.

Damien Hirst, Chloramphenicol-Acetyltransferase, 1996, household gloss paint on canvas

Hirst’s grids of coloured spots are produced by studio assistants working to his specific instructions. 

The spots are marked out and drawn on the canvas, and then household gloss paints are mixed to create hundreds of colours. No two colours are the same, even on Hirst’s largest canvases. 

Left: Damien Hirst, Chloramphenicol-Acetyltransferase, 1996, household gloss paint on canvas

In preparation for this project, I spent several hours cutting out all of the children’s coloured spots (more than 300 between them!), so that the children could transform them into some really exciting contemporary art! Older children could be tasked with cutting out their own spots, but that would have been rather difficult and tedious for my pre-schoolers and would have sucked the enjoyment out of the project.

Damien Hirst, Zirconyl Chloride, 2008, household gloss on canvas
Damien Hirst, Zirconyl Chloride, 2008

I started the session by showing the children some photos of Hirst’s Spot Paintings, and talking about the different ways he composed the spots to make geometric formations such as triangles and circles.

The children learned that this kind of art is called ‘abstract art’ because it isn’t trying to look like anything, for example a portrait or a landscape; instead the picture is concerned with the basic elements of art – colour, shape, line or pattern.

Then we looked at photos of a conceptual artwork by a Japanese artist called Yayoi Kusama. This artist started with a completely white room, furnished with a white table, chairs, lights etc. She gave every visitor coloured spots to take into the room and stick wherever they wanted to.

yayoi kusama obliteration room 2011 - 2

By the end of the exhibition the whole room was covered with spots – and she called it The Obliteration Room. Click here to watch a time lapse video of the installation in progress at Tate Modern. I explained to the children that this is called ‘installation art’ – when an artist puts objects or images into a room/space in order to make it look or feel different in some way.

blog DSCF6730I challenged my students to first work in teams to create an abstract composition using the spots, and then to work all together to create a huge installation with them! This was SO much fun! We rolled up masking tape to stick onto the back of each spot, and then the fun began!

One group used their spots to transform a corner of the Gym, sticking them all over the wall, floor and the floor to ceiling mirrors, which created an interesting effect.

The other group was let loose on a white-painted section of a corridor outside the art room.

blog DSCF6752

The children even became part of the installation, by sticking some of the spots on themselves!

blog DSCF6766 v2


  1. Humm, I just ordered some packs of large confetti from Oriental Trading (.79 per pack). Might could use them for this project.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s