Recently, in a homeschool co-op art class I taught a lesson on Surrealism. Not being a trained artist, I had to prepare well for this task. For those of you, untrained like me… copy, copy, copy!! Take my lesson plan, stress less and have fun!
Surrealism became a well-known style in Europe in the mid 1920’s and remained a significant part of the art world after World War II. Poets, artist, and writers express their thoughts and ideas through imagination with little prep or thought. Automatic drawing, doodling, and creating in the moment by putting down whatever came to mind are all common techniques.
“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.” Salvador Dali, Surrealist
Today, Surrealism is a method for kids to express the world of dreams and fantasy by creating unique images. It is a springboard to their imagination and creativity without limits.
Moms, surrealism will be easier for your kids than for you. It is critical that you allow your kids to create exactly what comes to their mind. If you’re like me, that can be difficult. But, for your kids to learn this art form, they must be allowed to experience it and that means…no comments or suggestions from mom! Let go of the final outcome of the project.
“To be a surrealist means barring from your mind all remembrance of what you have seen, and being always on the lookout for what has never been seen.” Rene Magritte, Surrealist
Do not conduct Surrealism internet searches with your children. Luckily, I researched this project while my daughter was in the other room. Many of the art pieces are fun and suitable for little eyes but beware…not everything is appropriate. I suggest gathering samples ahead of time. Here is a kid friendly link to safe pictures: Surrealism Art Samples for Kids. Or consider getting the book Imagine That! . I was able to find it at the local library and it was very helpful as a prep tool and teaching aid.
My co-op class was made up for 5-7 year-old children. However, these activities can apply to kids of all ages. Modify as needed. Most important…hold your tongue and let the kids create.
Our first activity was based on the artist Max Ernst who believed that art had to flow out of the artist without controlling the outcome. He liked to make strange magazine collages and odd paintings where imaginary beings and objects could be found. Ernst enjoyed discovering new ways to make art and he often liked to play art games when family and friends came over for a visit.
“All good ideas arrive by chance.” Max Ernst
Activity Instructions (if you have the book Imagine That!, see page 22):
Created by Joshua age 5 and Jude age 5.
The second activity was inspired by Rene Magritte, a surrealist who wanted to puzzle his viewers by creating mysterious drawings and paintings by changing the size of an ordinary object. Magritte also enjoyed the world of opposites. For example, making a picture by taking what belongs on the ground and putting it in the sky and taking what was in the sky and putting it on the ground.
Activity Instructions (if you have the book, Imagine That! see page 18):
Created by Abigail, Age 7. Street in the sky and clouds on the ground.
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Activity #2 Tree with clouds for the leaves and stars for the fruit. Flower cloud with frogs.