Joan Miro was born in Barcelona on April 20, 1893. His dad was a goldsmith and was very strict. He didn’t want Joan to become an artist; but his mother evened out his father’s harsh manner and encouraged him in his art. He started drawing lessons at age 7 and continued to art school as a young adult. This greatly dismayed his father and he enrolled in business as well. He worked as a clerk for a little while, but was so unhappy that he had a nervous breakdown. Afterwards he pursued his art full time, joining the Surrealist movement. The Surrealists use symbolism and imagery to create a dream-like work. He also pioneered the grattage technique (where you scrape through a layer of paint to create the image.)

Along with paintings, he created tapestries, sculptures and even did some work in architecture. Miro believed in departing from the usual methods of painting. He despised the typical stiff approach and rigid formulas of much of the art world. He believed in experimenting and trying everything he could think of. He painted with brooms, walked on canvases and even set them on fire! He said “I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.” Miro wanted his art to pinch and prod people. He wanted to create a strong reaction whether that it was good or bad didn’t really matter to him. Miro died of hear failure at home in Spain on December 25, 1983.

Take a look through Miro’s paintings together. Ask the students how the paintings make them feel. Do you think this is happy or sad? What do you think Miro was painting about? Explain that these are abstract paintings. Meaning they aren’t meant to look exactly like something in real life. Usually artists do have a real life object or scene they are drawing inspiration from though. What do you think inspired Miro for any of these paintings?


Today we will try out a mixed-media painting in Miro’s style. Mixed media means that we are using more than one type of material to make our piece of art.

1. First take a few a seconds to draw a squiggle on your paper. You could close your eyes if you want or just make a quick set of loops and swoops.

2. Now take a look at it and see if you can find a picture in there. Use the markers to go over the lines and add details to make the picture come to life. Remember with abstract art, it doesn’t have to “Look like anything”!

3. Use the water colors to fill in large background blobs of color if you’d like.