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  • Shannon Gerrity

Automatize Your Art

Updated: May 29

Channel the surrealist artist in you and try some automatism!

Art making episode and song, mini lesson for KTVU's SF Loves Learning television show below!

  • Automatism is a fun way to loosen your artist hand and brain, to turn off your inner critic, and to play with the birthplace of surrealism.

  • This style of art is playful and abstract, present and unplanned. It's an experiment!

  • See what happens when you move your writing utensil around the page!

  • If you enjoy this process and want to extend the experience further, check out the MoMA's information and art making activities.


Before You Begin:

Remember that art is ish, it's human, and whatever comes from you is what it's meant to be. There's no such thing as "good" or "bad," "right" or "wrong" in art, so get making!


When The Piece Feels Finished:

While art is never finished (it's alive and living!), share your art when you feel that it is grounded and whole - when you feel you have given it your full attention and care. You can share your art by hanging it on a wall in your house, posting it on-line, or mailing it to someone you love.


Scroll down to see examples, extending ideas, and making steps!


Automatic Drawing art making episode:


Steps for Creating Automatic Art:

1. Yell: "5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Make Art!" (This transitions your brain; there's research about this!)


2. Get a piece of paper - or anything you can write on.


3. Collect three or more writing utensils (pen, pencil, highlighter, marker, crayon, color pencil).


4. Choose one utensil and draw one long line. The line can be any quality: curvy, straight, long, short, all of the above.


5. Fill in the empty areas with the other writing utensils.


6. When you feel the piece feels grounded and whole and you've given it your attention and care, see what you can notice:

  • What do you see in the art piece? (I see many curvy shapes. There's a lot of movement in the piece.)

  • How does the art piece make you feel? (The colors make me feel calm and the line makes me feel active. I also feel proud of my process; I tried a different approach to making.)

  • What does this art piece remind you of? (This piece reminds me of abstract 3D sculptures. It also reminds me of a roller coaster. I also see a face, which makes me think of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.)

  • How might this art piece live in the world? (I wonder what it would be like to cut this into pieces and collage it in other ways. I could also turn it into bookmarks. Or, I could write a note on the back and send it to my grandpa; I think he'd really enjoy it on his fridge.)


7. Notice your state-of-being: how do you feel? How can you describe your state-of-being?


8. Repeat the process and create a series.

Play with constraints:

  • use your non-dominant hand to draw the long line

  • use a specific number of colors

  • create a collaborative piece with someone else, taking turns filling in the empty areas

  • set a timer and only make for a specific amount of time


And, voilà: you've made automatic art!

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