Abstract Collage- A lesson plan

Raymond Jonson (American, 1891–1982), Oil No. 2, 1942. Oil on canvas, 42 x 36 in. Crocker Art Museum Purchase, George and Bea Gibson Fund with contributions from Barbara and William Hyland and Loren G. Lipson, M.D., 2015.25



Raymond Jonson was a member of the Transcendental Painting Group (TPG), an artist collective initiated in New Mexico in the 1930’s. The TPG issued a manifesto stating that their purpose was “to carry painting beyond the appearance of the physical world, through new concepts of space, color, light and design, to imaginative realms that are idealistic and spiritual.”


Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will create an abstract collage that represents an emotion.
  • Students will use color, shapes, and layered material to create a collage while making compositional decisions.


Abstract Art- a form of art with no recognizable subject, it does not represent images of our everyday lives. Abstract art often portrays what an artist feels and thinks, rather than what he or she sees.

An abstract artist uses colors, lines, and shapes to express his or her emotions and ideas.

Collage- A piece of art made by laying various materials such as paper or photographs onto a surface.




When creating art, whether it be visual art, music, or dance, artists are often exploring feelings or emotions. In abstract art, artwork with no recognizable subject, and artist is using lines, shapes, and colors to explore different feelings or ideas.


Today, we’re going to create an abstract collage that represents a feeling or emotion. Let’s explore different ways color can represent a different feeling (i.e. what emotion or feeling do you think of when you see the color red. Everyone is different, in some instances you may feel anger, in other instances you may feel excitement or love.)



Part 1: Set Up

  1. Distribute cardstock background paper, collage scrap paper, to table groups or materials table.
  2. Provide table groups with scissors and glue sticks.
  3. Prepare the white board with the following:
  • Objectives
  • Procedure
  • List of emotions one could portray through art (ex: happy, angry, calm, tired, sad, brave, excited, silly)
  • Elements of Art poster
  • Project Examples

Part 2: Procedure

  1. Reference your discussion and the supplemental materials on the board
  2. Select an emotion you want to use to inspire your abstract collage.
  3. Turn and talk to your partner or table group about how you might express that emotion using color and shapes.
  4. Collect materials (when choosing your colors, keep in mind the emotion you chose to portray)
    1. 1 piece of cardstock paper for your background.
    2. 2 -3 pieces of collage paper (depending on materials).
    3. Glue stick and scissors
  5. Cut and/or tear shapes from your collage paper.
  6. Arrange paper shapes on your background – try overlapping your paper to create depth.
  7. Rearrange your papers until you are happy with the layout.
  8. Glue your shapes onto your background paper. Continue to glue shapes and colors to convey the chosen emotion.


  1. Clean up. Ask students to clean up and return all materials. Their artwork should remain at their desk for the “gallery walk” to conclude the lesson.
  2. Class and/or table group discussion. What did we learn? What was challenging? What felt familiar? Shoutouts to helpful neighbors?
  3. “Gallery walk”. Students will leave their artwork at their desk to be previewed by their classmates. (If they do not want to share, offer to turn over work). Invite students to line up behind you with their arms behind their backs. Discuss museum manners (hands to self, positive remarks). Slowly “snake” around the table groups so students may view the work of their peers.


Adaptations and Extensions

Consider cutting or ripping pieces ahead of time for students who need fine motor accommodations.

Reference Pixar’s Inside Out animated film. What colors do you see associated with each character?

Use puppets, ‘stuffies’ or characters from books to narrate and tell a social story about emotions.



K.VA:cr1.1 Engage in exploration and imaginative play with various art materials

1.VA:Cr1.1 Engage collaboratively in exploration and imaginative play with various arts materials

2.VA:Cr1.1 Brainstorm to generate multiple approaches to an art or design problem

3.VA:Cr1.1 Elaborate on an imaginative idea

4.VA:Cr1.2 Collaboratively set goals and create artwork that is meaningful and has purpose to the makers

5.VA:Cr2.2 Demonstrate quality craftsmanship through care for and use of materials, tools, and equipment.

6.VA:Cr2.1 Demonstrate openness in trying new ideas, materials, methods, and approaches in making works of art and design.


  • Color wheel poster
  • Elements of Art poster
  • Heavyweight paper for background
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Collage materials- a variety of solid colored paper, paper scraps, collage paper


60 minutes

Grade Level



  • Visual Arts


  • Collage


Adapted by Brittany Thurman