Let’s Get Started


Students often are limited in what they use for creating art that is similar to “paintings”. This activity gives them an opportunity to work with an alternative material, while at the same time, their final pieces will have the look of a “painting”. This activity also deals directly with primary and secondary colours and is a good opportunity for students to learn more about colours and the colour basics.


Have a variety of coloured construction paper available. It is very important that the selection has all primary colours, and at least two of the secondary colours. Although the papers need to be torn up, this should NOT be pre-done, as it is a part of the process the students will take part in.


Note:  Have the example image of Gershon Iskowitz’s painting on display for the class to refer to see an example of abstract art.

  1. Students will discuss the fact that in this painting there is no real subject. There are a variety of lines, marks and colours. Ask the students what they see. Another question that can be addressed to the students is if they see emotion in the painting. Is it a happy or sad painting? Why or why not? A good discussion can come from these questions.
  2. Students will start with a white piece of paper and build their image up from this base. Students will select a colour of construction paper from any of the secondary colours (green, orange, purple).
  3. Students  will  tear up the piece of construction paper into small pieces and glue down these torn up pieces on to the original white paper. Have students try to cover all of the white paper. Their pieces can be rough around the edges so as to create an organic feel.
  4. After they have their base layer of the secondary colour, students will then each receive pieces of construction paper in the three primary colours. Students will now be instructed to tear these pieces of construction paper into small pieces and add them on top of their secondary colour layer.
  5. The manner in which they lay out these new pieces may be slightly abstract but advise students to form some sort of pattern, symmetrical symbol, or geometric shape. They will be instructed to try and stay away from representations of objects.
  6. Students will take the time to experiment with different configurations and images they want to display, by moving the small pieces of primary colour construction paper around their background colour for a while, before deciding on a final image.
  7. Once they have finally decided what they would like their image to be, they will then glue down these pieces.
  8. A layer of decoupage paste may be applied over their art piece to make sure that all pieces of construction are securely glued down. The paste will appear slightly foggy, but this will disappear as it dries. This layer will also make the piece more durable.
  9. For students who have completed their assignment they can attempt to create a different piece by beginning with a different secondary colour and adding a completely different pattern, or geometric shape.
  10. After all the pieces are complete students will create a hallway gallery to display their pieces. It is a good opportunity for students to look at each others’ work and see how different they can be, despite the fact that they all used the same basic colours.

Tips and Tricks

While it is important for most students to take time to tear up their construction paper, it is good to have some construction paper pre-ripped for those students that have difficulty with this tactile task. 

If students are having difficulty with the glue, the teacher may pour some glue into a small container. The students can use Popsicle sticks to dip into the glue and then apply the glue to the back of the paper.