Let's make a clay picture


How did Joan Miró begin?


The starting point for this work is a more or less rectangular, flat piece of clay, measuring 80 x 50 cm, worked on both sides. If you've got a piece of paper this size at home, you'll be able to get an idea.

In this work by Miró, one side displays a well-outlined design with easy to identify components, whereas the other is rougher and more abstract.

Because it's a flat surface, we can paint on it. And, since clay is soft, we can also press on it with our fingers or tools to leave marks in it. We can draw on it too, by making grooves or adding more clay on top to give it relief.

Look at the work

In this case, as the work has two sides, you'll have to decide whether you want to switch between one and the other, or look first at one and then the other.

● Between one and the other:

Try to imagine that there's nothing there yet, that we've got a piece of clay that has not been worked. When the images are put next to each other, they produce a mirror effect.

Now notice how full or empty they are, and which of the sides is more colourful. Compare the colours of one against the other: what colours can we see on both sides? Is there any shape that's repeated on both sides, with either the same or another colour?

● First one and then the other:

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you look at the image on the left?

Now look at it little by little and try to find meaning in each element. Pay attention to the rounded shapes and observe how they're arranged. Focus only on the white colour. Which elements of this colour are repeated and what do they represent for you?

Now look at the image on the right. Unlike the previous, more polished one, this one displays all kinds of rough bits like scratches and cuts. There's also an imprint of a natural element. Can you see it?

Have you realised that the piece has been broken and repaired? In fact, it's a piece of ceramic, which is the name of an artistic technique. What does it consist of? A piece made from clay is put inside a furnace at a very high temperature, about 1,000 degrees. This makes it hard and much more resistant, but it can break.

All the works tell us a story. What story do you think Miró is telling us this time?

Do you want to know what title Miró gave it?

Click here.

Let's make a clay picture

We usually imagine a picture as a painting done on paper or canvas, placed inside a frame and hung on the wall. But do we really need to use paint (or only paint)? Does the picture need to be framed and hung on the wall? Does the support need to be paper or canvas?

Why don't we try to make a picture out of clay?

  1. Take a lump of clay and flatten it on a table or on the floor. Make sure it's not too thin (no thinner than a finger, for example).
  2. Choose things that aren't too big. Always smaller than the size of the flattened clay piece, of course!
  3. Before working the clay directly, you can cut a piece of paper to the same size and try things out until you find a composition you like.
  4. You can also add colour.
  5. You don't have to use a lot of objects or fill the whole thing. A good composition isn't the one with more things, but the one with a better arrangement of them.
  6. When you've made your decision, try to transfer your composition to the clay.
  7. One interesting thing! Since clay is soft, if we press on it with an object and then pull it away, we'll leave a mark.
  8. If you want to, you can also use clay to draw by adding more on top. By doing so, your piece will have relief.
  9. Let it dry out properly, and there you have it. Think of a good title!


Materials: clay, paint, objects.

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