Art Ideas Involving Surrealism

Written by laura myers
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Art Ideas Involving Surrealism
The often-imitated melted clocks painted by Salvador Dali are still popular in surrealist imagery. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Surrealism became a force in art in the 1920s and has continued to this day. In surrealist work, unrelated objects are combined with one another to create a sense of surprise in the viewer. Famous surrealist artists include Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and Frida Kahlo. Dali's 1948 work, "The Persistence of Memory," with its melted clocks, is probably the most well known surrealist painting. Using the principles of surrealism, you can produce your own imaginative works of art.

Paper Collage

Paper collage and surrealism are naturally suited to one another. To make a surrealistic collage, first decide what you will use to build your collage upon. Cardboard and card stock work well for paper collages, while ordinary paper is usually too flimsy. Find completely unrelated images in books, magazines, the Internet or elsewhere. These images do not necessarily have to have particular meaning for you. Once you have selected your images, create your background. The background can be a solid colour, painted scene, pattern or anything else of your choice. After it is complete, arrange and rearrange your images until you have a composition that you like. When you are satisfied with your juxtaposition of images, glue them with a glue stick, making sure that all parts of the images are affixed to the background. Finally, you can protect your work with a fixative spray.


In order to make a surrealist painting, you will need to paint objects in a realistic way. These should be objects that are not normally seen together or they should be represented in completely new ways. For instance, Rene Magritte painted a mermaid that had the head of a fish and the legs of a woman. Surrealistic art is usually more effective if part of the painting reflects things as we expect them to be than if everything is unusual. Unrelated and unexpected objects placed in an ordinary room, for example, create a dreamlike feeling in the viewer. Similarly, things such as flowers, animals or utilitarian objects can evoke a sense of mystery when they are placed in the sky. There is no limit to the combinations of images and backgrounds you can use in your surrealist painting.

Collaborative Book

Two or more people can work together to produce a collaborative book. For this project, select a blank book. Beginning with the first page and working chronologically, each participant collages, paints and writes words on every page. The words should at least loosely form a story and each artist should add one or more images to every page. Artists should not consult each other when deciding what images to use. The result will be an unusual collaborative work of art.

Surreal Garden

For this project you will need pictures of faces. These can be copies of photos of yourself, your family or friends, although they can come from another source. You also require pictures of large flowers and a piece of pale blue card stock. First, paint wispy clouds on the card stock so it will look like the sky. The next step is to glue the flowers onto the card stock in an artistic manner. Finally, glue a face in the centre of each flower. This surreal garden project produces a mysterious-looking garden populated with flower people. It is suitable for children as well as adults.

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