Marbling a la Haring



Using the process of paper marbling, this teacher has found a way to help students deconstruct and compose their own abstract compositions.


Students will be able to marble spontaneously and with the idea that asymmetrical and random shapes/designs will serve a second purpose as drawing substance.

Students will use a limited Haring color scheme and work spontaneously.

When students delineate shapes in their marbled papers, they will take seemingly non-objective design into another realm of perception- ABSTRACTION.

Students will also collaborate with one another to create a small mural of their interlocking shapes.


Wheat paste (for paper maché) + cold water to make thickened water
Tanks/tubs of thickened water (opening should be as big or bigger than paper sheets)
Water downed acrylic paints (1 part paint/2 parts water)
Pointed tools (optional)
Toothy, cotton-based paper (thick)
Black felt-tip markers


Marbling is a craft that has a magical outcome, always providing surprises and mysteries with each new experiment. My connection to the work of Keith Haring was really founded upon my criticism of a student who used primary colors when marbling and cited Haring as his inspiration. I then challenged him to delineate his finished marbled images in the way that Haring created linear maze-like designs of interlocking shapes. I turned this encounter into a class project where outlined marbled shapes were cut out and displayed in a Haring-like mural.

Students will learn about Keith Haring and his own unique color schemes and lines. The fact that he rarely pre-sketched his work will fuel student spontaneity in the marbling process. Afterward (when designs are dry), students will experiment with seeing shapes in apparently random space and outline certain marbled shapes in black that hold more significant references for them. Students will also learn about how abstraction can be perceived in many ways.


Fill tanks/tubs with water, thickened with paper maché.

Water down acrylic paints (1part paint/2 parts water). Have students consider what colors they would like to use so they have more strategy behind composing an image before they begin.

Drop or fling paint into thickened water. Move paint around inside the water using fingers or pointed tool (don't mix too much or else the solution will lose the marblized quality).

Lay a toothy, cotton-based paper atop marblized water solution and pull it up quickly. Allow to dry. Give students a few sheets- once they get the hang of it, they'll want to experiment more and more.

When marbled designs are dry, allow students to look for and delineate shapes with a black felt-tip marker. This medium requires that they stick to their decisions and respond directly with the work they created in the marbling process.

Refer to questions and mural extension to expand on this theme.


Was their color scheme effective?

What mood did their marbled papers reflect and why?

What mood did their selected shape affect?

Is the final mural harmonious in their view?


Students will discuss their work in terms of how they saw the marbled papers as a whole and why they extracted certain portions of their compositions.

Students will note how their delineations reflect either the working style or iconographic style of Haring's work.

The class will discuss the success of their group mural based on their extracted marbled shapes.

"iconographic"- A set of specified or traditional symbolic forms associated with the subject or theme of a stylized work of art. (