Finding Inspiration in Art History – Pop Art
Pop Art style self-portraits by students.
Pop Art is a very popular art movement with young students, many love the story of how it emerged in England and United States in the mid 1950s and evolved through the 1960s and to the present day.
The most recognizable and popular of the Pop Art artists is Andy Warhol, but there are others that actually started drawing ideas from popular culture and mass culture of the time.
Artists like Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paozzoli in the UK and Larry Rivers and Robert Rauschenberg in America, drew ideas from what was then popular, such as comic books, advertising, and “machines of war”.
Later on, in the 1960s, Andy Warhol started looking at other popular things like famous people, movie stars, super heroes, politicians, money/currency and supermarket items as inspiration for his paintings.
Our Pop Art lesson is presented in two different ways, according to the age group of our students.
Older students complete self-portrait paintings and the younger students worked with the idea of supermarket products, both in the style of Andy Warhol.
For the older students the task started by taking photos of each other and uploading onto a computer. They manipulated the face using a program called Adobe Photo Shop Elements to apply a posterization filter and manipulate the colours.
After the computer portraits were finished and printed in B/W students drew their portraits on thick brown paper primed (under painted) with Gesso. For the drawings on the brown paper they followed the style of the B/W prints and use one colour crayon or charcoal sticks to draw.
Students then applied bright colours of their choice.
Young children loved to talk about supermarkets and consumerism. We talked about the many different kinds of cereals, sauces, laundry detergents and many other products that scream on the supermarket racks to be bought, to be picked up. We also discussed the way Andy Warhol celebrated the popular culture of his time by painting popular supermarket products, famous people, super heroes and money to name just a few. Students loved to talk about popular culture these days, superheroes, social media, celebrities and others.
To create their paintings we collected a number of supermarket items like cereal cartons, Coca Cola bottles, soup cans, candy wraps and other empty containers, it was great fun to set up a small super market in the classroom.
Painting on primed thick brown paper was a good option for the younger students as well and they too used crayons to draw.
As an extension for the younger students we offered a Pop Art 3D and a 2D activity that consisted in making ice cream cones with cardboard and plaster strips and decorators, and then using the ice creams as models for mixed media drawings.
Andy Warhol – Roy Lichtenstein – James Rosenquist – Robert Rauschenberg – Jasper Jones