Surreal activity: Rub a new artwork into life

Discover the textures of different kinds of surfaces then use them to create a landscape or seascape.

Examples of frottage (rubbing), 2021. Te Papa


Surrealists loved the unexpected results of frottage. They liked to imagine that the textured pattern could be something else. For example, if you rub on a wooden board with a pencil and paper, the resulting woodgrain pattern could be cut up and used to represent mountains, or birds, or even ... trees!


For this activity you’ll need:

  • sheets of paper

  • pencils or crayons

  • scissors

  • glue.

Step 1: Find a textured surface

Interesting textures are hiding everywhere. Find one now.

Step 2: Create a rubbing

Hold your sheet of paper over the surface, and gently rub over the paper with your pencil or crayon.

Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2

Create at least five rubbings.

Step 4: Cut up your rubbings

Cut your rubbings into different shapes.

Step 5: Use your cuttings to create an artwork

Arrange your cuttings on a blank sheet of paper to create a surreal landscape or seascape. Once you’re happy with how you’ve arranged them, glue down your cuttings.

This activity has been adapted from the free-to-download surreal activities teaching resource