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Jean-Michel Basquiat



This is a 2 week project with 2 clear weekly parts towards the same painting.

Week 1 is to produce a background in the style of an Abstract Expressionist painting (see below for examples of Abstract Expressionist paintings).

Week 2 is to put the top layer onto the artwork - adding all the detail of the artwork as well as the words.

So this is a 2 week project - looking at

Neo-Expressionist artist Jean-Michel Basquiat who also had strong connections to Pop Art. I would like you to do some research about this artist - find out about his art please - over the 2 weeks. I will discuss his work once we are back in class.

So we are going to produce a diptych painting - diptych simply means it has two panels to it or in our case sheets of paper (see right). In churches a diptych would often be connected together with a hinge, we don't need to worry about the hinge. Please look this up if you would like to know more about the diptych and even the triptych. 

I want you to include these 2 elements in your work: A face (at least 1) of some description, Basquiat has what is called an expressionistic style but you decide what your face should look like. Please also include some form of animal - does it exist? did it ever exist - I have included a dinosaur pic as a starting point but please search out your own reference and make up your own animal if you want to. Please also include other elements in the artwork - you decide what!


Please add words (see below)- notice how Basquiat often uses strong contrast around the writing so it stands out.

So I want you to tap into Basquiat's style of art - this project will help us loosen up around our work and is a fantastic style in itself.

I would like you to definitely use paint for the writing and not a pen or pencil (remember adding water to the paint and brush will create a good flow - important when painting text).




  • Paint a background first - At this stage it will look like an Abstract Expressionist painting - see below. You don't need to worry too much about what is going to go on the top at this week 1 stage. Remember it is a diptych so paint two sheets please. It might be a good idea to make it look like some abstract shape or marks carries over across the 2 sheets - you decide! PLEASE PHOTOGRAPH THIS WEEK 1 WORK FOR REFERENCE - please also email over week 1 work - I will print these out when we are back in the studio.


  • This is where we complete the next part of the painting - the detail over the top of the week 1 work.

  • Include a face, an animal (real or imaginary), perhaps a old toy - one of yours preferably and also you think about what else to include.

  • Include at least 10 words in your artwork - perhaps some small and some large - you decide.

  • What words to write? - please make up your own saying - for example: 'You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it do the back stroke'. If you follow the link below - Link to Aphorisms - you will see lots of sayings. Please make up your own saying for the writing - use part of one of these sayings (as I have) and add your own part. You can make your words more serious than mine if you want to - you decide!

  • Possible medium to use: Acrylic (or any paint you have, charcoal, oil pastel - anything you have at home really!

  • Research the artist please.

  • Any thoughts or questions please drop me a note - I look forward to seeing your work - thanks Mike.

These are Abstract Expressionist paintings (below)

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