Submitted by: Ken Schwab, Leigh High School, San Jose CA
Unit: Painting/Collage - Robert Rauschenberg
Lesson Plan: Abstract Expressionism - painting with collage
Grade Level: High school 9 thru 12 (adaptable to middle school)
Objectives: Students will Materials:
1. Gain an understanding and appreciation of abstract expressionism - Canvas (stretched
Learn how an artist works/gets ideas. canvas/stretcher strips or
2. Combine collage with painting techniques to create a composition
around a selected theme.
Collage items, photos,
3. Integrate technology - use Internet to locate images. printouts
4. Employ elements and principles of design in creation of abstract Brushes assorted sizes flats
composition. and round (brights)
White Glue (or acrylic
Robert Rauschenberg Online Pop Art Abstract Expressionism
Jasper Johns Racing Thoughts, 1983
http://www.whitney.org/american_voices/271/index.html This work is somewhat
autobiographical. Close-up of Racing Thoughts
Video: Rauschenberg: Man At Work (also available in visual resource catalogs)
Video: Robert Rauschenberg: Inventive Genius
1. Present work of Robert Rauschenberg (through slides or Power Point). Discuss/critique art
2. Show video of Rauschenberg at work (if available).
3. Present the idea of "theme". Instruct students to look for photographs and found objects
4. Give students time on the Internet to locate images. Students who do not need images may
research on Rauschenberg
5. Demonstrate collage technique (transfers may also be made as indicated on Liquitex Site).
Review painting techniques.
1. Look at the work of Robert Rauschenberg. Study the use of large painted areas with
collage of pictures and found items. The use of vertical horizontal movement and the quick
loose brush strokes. Find a theme or concept to paint. Collect pictures and/or real items to
use in the collage. If you are using the Internet, the printers today do not all use waterproof
inks so these will blur, but who cares! It is expressionistic and this is ok to blur.
2. Plan out the placement of the pictures to have an area of emphasis and to create directional
movement and rhythm. Remove these and start with some quick brush strokes to set the
paintings movement and direction. Follow this with the lamination of the photos and printouts,
using white glue and a big brush. Layer the glue and water over and under the photos quickly
so as not to blur them. (Gloss acrylic medium may also be used. Apply a thin layer of medium
to canvas - smooth on image and allow to dry. When dry - brush medium over the images -
this limits blurring the printer ink. Students may want to try the method explained by Liquitex).
Student who do not want their images to blur may have them printed on a laser printer or color
photocopier (as these inks will not blur as much). Collage elements could be added from
magazines or old books.
3. After these dry begin to paint into the pictures and outside of them to tie these together.
Balancing of values, colors and shapes will help pull it al together. Keep loose and free acrylic
will cover itself and it is only finished when you decide.
4. Adding of real objects and things can be done with a hot glue gun. Remember to have fun
and think of compositional rules. Take a look at Rauschenberg examples often to point out
good design and composition as well as his technique.
1. Did students show an understanding of the work of Robert Rauschenberg - Were they able
critique selected works and see how the elements and principles of design apply?
2. Did students employ the elements and principles of design to create an abstract
around a selected theme combining collage with painting?