What Is Surrealism?

What is Surrealism?

There are two videos to choose from to learn about surrealism.

The first one is better for younger kids, the second one will appeal to older kids. Feel free to watch one, or both!

You may see a number of other videos that are a deeper dive into things you might be interested in. Feel free to watch as many of those as you like. Then choose some activities and/or a project. 

High school students or any student who wants to dig deeper, continue your study with the advanced learning project in the Projects section.

Take A Deeper Dive!

Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney originally collaborated on this piece of surrealist video in 1945. It was released 58 years later!

Learn about Joan Miró, a Spanish artist who created surrealist paintings and sculptures.

Understanding surrealism can be tricky. This video will guide you some of the main themes behind surrealist art.

Explore the history of surrealism with this video from PBS.

Leonora Carrington was an influential artist in the surrealist movement. However, until recently her work remained virtually unknown.  This hour-long documentary is a deeper diver into her life and works.


Create an Automatic Drawing Artwork

You will need: 

  • Paper
  • Pencil/Fine liner pen

Watch the video and follow the instructions to create an automatic drawing.

Remember to include a copy of your drawing in your portfolio.

Create a Dalí-Inspired Bird Drawing

Salvador Dalí was a Spanish painter who became a notorious figure of the surrealist movement. He was heavily inspired by his dreams, creating bizarre landscapes, often featuring unusual creatures.

Watch this video to learn more about Salvador Dalí and his artwork.

To create your artwork, you will need: 

  • Paper
  • Pencil/Fine liner pen
  • Colouring pencils/pens

Watch the video and follow the instructions to learn how to draw a bird in the style of Salvador Dalí. 

Remember to include a copy of your artwork in your portfolio.

Make a Surrealist Magazine Collage

You will need: 

  • Old magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick/PVA glue
  • Marker pen

To create your collage:

  • Search through the magazines and cut out any images which catch your eye. 
  • Find a section of magazine to use as a background. Remember, your artwork can be any size you choose.
  • Arrange your images.
  • When you are happy with the arrangement, glue them down.
  • Cut out your design to your desired size.

Watch the video for inspiration on creating a surrealist magazine collage.

Remember to include a copy of your magazine collage in your portfolio.

Create a Mixed-Medium Surrealist Artwork

You will need: 

  • Watercolour paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Water
  • Watercolour paper
  • Painter’s tape
  • Marker pens

Watch the video and learn how to create a mixed-medium work of art inspired by Joan Miró’s paintings; 

Here is a selection of Miró’s paintings

Remember to include a copy of your art in your portfolio.

Source: Image 1:  “Exposition Joan Miró – l’Arlequin artificier – 16 juin au 03 novembre 2013 – Capucins – Landerneau – France” by y.caradec is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this licence, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/


Write a Biography

Dive deeper into the lives of the surrealist artists and create a biography for an artist of your choice.

You could choose from:

Contemporary Surrealists:

  • David Alabo; David Alabo uses digital technology to create Afro-Surrealist artworks. He often focuses on sharing the experiences of African people.
  • Mark Ryden : Mark Ryden creates artwork which combines traditional surrealist ideals with pop culture, creating a unique style called Pop Surrealism.

Here is a basic biography template from Squarehead Teachers for you to download to help you organise your thoughts.

You may wish to write your biography using the template, or if you are feeling creative, you could create a video.

Save your biography writing and/or video in your portfolio.

Advanced Project

Design and Paint a Mural

If artistic expression is your jam, design and paint a mural based on the life of one of the surrealist artists. If you have completed the previous project, you could use your chosen artist, or perhaps you want to choose someone different.

Do the design work on a small scale, either on paper or digitally. Then, blow it up. You might do a “small” mural, on a roll of industrial sized paper, or a piece of plywood. Or you might be able to find a space to take your mural larger than life, on the side of a building, for example. 

When designing your mural, think about:

  • The what, when, where, and why of your subject
  • The emotion you want to convey
  • The use of colour to convey emotion as well as theme
  • The style of your mural and what message that sends as well
  • Write a short artistic brief explaining your subject and your choices

Include a description of your mural and photos in your portfolio.


Read Aloud Book(s)