Abstract Cubist Bottles

By Stephanie Ramirez, February 27, 2017

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

1 week


Cubism challenged the tradition of considering painting as an orderly spatial unity that mirrors reality. In this lesson, the students will be able to reduce natural forms into basic geometric parts on the two-dimensional picture plane. Students will learn how there is more than one side to Cubism itself. While the movement was predominately the domain of painters, Cubism found its way into other fields, including sculpture, architecture, and even car design. Students will hear of and learn briefly about American architect Paul Rudolph and Italian automaker Ettore Bugatti.  

National Standards


Students will be able to systematically reduce and simplify complex objects into basic geometric parts to strengthen their observation skills when faced with the challenge to draw, paint, sculpt, or design a subject in a complex manner.  




  • White Paper- one per student
  • Tracing Paper same size as white paper- 3 sheets per student
  • Colored Pencils or another medium
  • Assorted Bottles to draw (a few per table)
  • No. 2 Pencil


  • Analytic Cubism: analytical cubism sought to analyze a subject matter and idea by breaking down an image. More 3-d.
  • Synthetic Cubism: is like a collage: it combines different surfaces, textures, and subject matters. More 2-d
  • Unity: A principle of art, unity occurs when all of the elements of a piece combine to make a balanced, harmonious, complete whole.
  • Figurative: (of an artist or work of art) representing forms that are recognizably derived from life.
  • Interlocking: to connect together
  • Overlapping: is the placement of objects over one another in order to create the illusion of depth.
  • Abstract: art seeks to break away from traditional representation of physical objects


Day 1: Getting Ideas Students will be introduced to the Art style of Cubism as well as the artists who launched the movement, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso who were greatly influenced by French painter Paul Cezanne. They will complete a graphic organizer by listing the facts about each artist. Students will also complete a complete a class quiz as a means of collective learning. They will also hear how Cubists were inspired by the work of Mathematician Jules Henri Poincare and Physicist Albert Einstein. Day 2-3: Define the Problem In regards to the design process, students would be asked "How might we create an interesting/successful composition for their Cubism-inspired artwork?" Students will begin with their sketches. 2-3 bottles will be placed on each table around the room. Students will draw the contour of the bottles. No shading is necessary. Students will be encouraged to draw at least 2 bottles and draw them from 3-4 different angles (ie: front view, side view, bottom view, tilted view, bird’s eye view, etc.). This way they can choose the one that came out the best. Day 3-4: Prototyping and Making Students will continue working on their sketches. Once they have completed their drawings, they need to trace each view point onto a piece of tracing paper. They should have 3-4 sheets of tracing paper each with a different view point of the same bottle drawn on them. Now the kids can overlap the tracing paper to get a composition they like. Now they can flip the tracing paper over and trace the drawings again on the right side of the tracing paper so that the pencil lead will rub onto their final paper. They will do this for each piece of tracing paper. All 3-4 views should be overlapping and interlocking in an interesting composition. Day 5-7: Prototyping and Making Once the tracing process is completed, they may color the pieces with colored pencil or another medium such as pastel or crayon. They may use a white China marker to outline the bottles. The paint examples are not done with the same bottle, rather, the students chose at least 3 different bottles to draw and then they overlapped them. They also will use dividing lines as they saw in the Cubism video, either circles or straight lines with a ruler to break up the space effectively. Students will use a color scheme to color the piece as well.  


Formative: Students will be assessed daily for their completion of each step of the process in creating their abstract cubist bottle compositions as well as their warm-ups. They will be given a participation grade on the first day during the class quiz. Summative. Students will be given a Test over all that was presented regarding Cubism.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Describe it! Picasso’s later work (on the right) is clearly less realistic than his earlier work (on the left). (Students will have this visual to refer to) Describe what about the later painting makes it less realistic.

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