Tag Archives: color theory

A Riot of Color

This past week or two all my classes have been doing projects to help them experience and develop their color mixing. Our artroom has exploded with bright colors, from our African works to now. Kindergarten made ginormous color mixed caterpillars. First/second grades are behind, but are about to start a color wheel hot air balloon. Third/Fourth mixed oil pastel umbrellas (that one worked better with the homeschool class, I think), and fifth/sixth did the abstract study. This is my board with some samples (I could really use a bigger bulletin board).

color board

an explosion of color!


Every once in a while a sudent project surprises me: I, rather than the students, get really engaged in it. I mean, I usually enjoy the student projects. Gee, if I don’t have fun, how can I expect the kids to? But occasionally, one draws me in even more than the kids. The fifth/sixth grade abstract tertiary color study has been one of those.

My fifth/sixth grade showed a good understanding of mixing tertiary colors; I was pleased with that. They had trouble with the conceptual part of assembling a balanced, cohesive composition. Not bad, though. I, however, have felt strangely compelled by mine. I sat it up on the mantle and ponder it, often. I wonder if I should extend the colors to the edges of the paper. Would it look better if it were black beyond the edges, like the grid lines? This was strangely fun. I would enjoy doing it over several different ways. I’d enjoy doing it again, on a canvas, with acrylic. I don’t think this artwork is done with me yet!

abstract tertiary color model


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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Flexible Lessons

I had the joy and privilege of creating art with my homeschool class today. I have nine students grades K through 3, and they really are a joy to teach. Sometimes they get the benefit of my experience with lessons with my school students, and sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes, with the homeschoolers, I may even still be working out the kinks in a new lesson. I know I can do that with them. Today was one of those days.

The younger students are doing a variation on the Faith Lutheran kinders’ colorwheel caterpillar, a project I KNOW I saw somewhere on a blog, but for my life cannot find it now. (Anyone care to help me so I can credit it?) We painted 4×4 squares with large dots, inspired by The Dot last week, mixing primaries for secondary colors. We double-dipped our brushes, so they would have to remember that red and yellow make orange every time they reloaded.

But my older students practiced mixing secondary colors with a project idea I just came up with this week. It sounded like fun to me, so I ran with it, even though it was only half-developed in my head. I knew I wanted to draw umbrellas. We would draw primary umbrellas in a row, and then under them mix oil pastels for secondary-colored umbrellas, located according to their parent colors, like so:

the mistakes from which I learned

I kept looking at them, thinking something wasn’t right. Then I realized I had made the umbrellas like tulips, all messed up on the scallops. They should be curved up, and they are pointed. Obviously, I taught them differently than my model showed. I also really didn’t like how dark the red and blue made the purple, so I decided to walk the kids through my evaluation and point them to light blue and red instead. See the heart in the corner where I tested the new color combo? It was only this morning that I worked through what shapes to direct to make people for the umbrellas, but it was a great place to introduce neutrals. The background was their idea, during the lesson! And then we added rain as a watercolor wash, as prayerful hope to end the drought.

One student’s proof that I did fix some things!

I had fun walking through this little lesson (review for most) in color mixing. Teaching really benefits from being able to adjust on the fly. I would love to hear other examples of tweaking lessons in the last minute!

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Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

I’m not ignoring them on purpose!

I teach homeschoolers. No, it’s not a secret. I just haven’t been talking about them because most often they have been the recipients of my experience with the Faith kids’ projects. They have their own Artsonia: http://www.artsonia.com/schools/school.asp?id=125173  They are great kids, all 7 of them. And they range from kindergarten to 2nd grade, which is actually a bit of a challenge. It is a much greater span of developmental readiness than three grades would suggest! Frankly, kinder alone is a pretty big span. But this week we did projects Faith kids haven’t done yet. I got this clown lesson from  DeepSpaceSparkle.  The surprise (it seems every project has at least one) was that about half of the kids were very anxious about cutting little paper shapes to make the clown faces. I did provide a large-guage hole punch for round things like noses, because I know how hard it can be for little hands to make circles. But I didn’t expect the dissatisfaction with cutting curved mouths and triangle eyebrows. It wasn’t grade-related, either. I know it was because the shapes were free-form, rather than cutting a drawn line, and these would be my students who don’t easily visualize in their heads. I did show them the trick of turning the paper, not the scissors, to cut a smooth curve. And after a few tears from one student, I finally cajoled them into cutting funny clown faces they were satisfied with. And I loved them all! But it was a GREAT heads-up to be prepared before I present that step to 18 first and second-graders at Faith in  a month or so.

The vanGogh sunflowers project isn’t even on the Faith schedule, but I am thinking maybe it should be. It turned out really pretty! I would liked to have had a little more time to cover van Gogh himself, and I needed to teach more overlapping, but I think they are beautiful!

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Filed under Art, Teaching

Learning to Trust

I realized this week that there is a LOT of trust required of an art student for his/her art teacher. Yes, *I* know the steps they need to take to make that blank sheet of paper resemble the demonstration piece, but sometimes it’s hard for the children to believe that what they are doing will get them there!

First and second grades began a scratch-art project this week. The demo I showed them is actually in stages of completion. Part of the paper is only the rainbow of colors laid down in oil pastel, while the rest shows the black acrylic paint overlaid, with the spider web scratched out. Still, once students had striped their papers in brilliant colors, they looked at me in amazement when I told them to cover it in black paint. Some even gasped! LOL! I have 18 sheets of black squares now, some with brilliant hues still peeking through because students couldn’t imagine making it such a solid black. By this time next week, I will have delighted students, amazed at their beautiful webs, which we will post on our school site at Artsonia. Thank you to http://kidsartists.blogspot.com/ for the great idea. It tied in perfectly to their classroom reading of Charlotte’s Web!

Kindergarten also meets on Thursdays, and we read one of my favorite books introducing secondary colors: White Rabbit’s Color Book. This book also introduces the concepts of cool and warm colors, but best for me, the color changing character is a RABBIT. How perfect for introducing printing technique to little ones? We used large bottle caps, which we imagined to be bunnies. Bunnies hop; they don’t wallow like piggies, or scoop like shovels. They hop, and maybe dance a little. Our cap bunnies hopped into blue paint and hopped back out onto our paper and left a little bunny print. They did this several times, and then, like the character in the book, they “showered” on a damp paper towel. Then our bunnies hopped into red and back on the paper near another bunny print, and did a little turn. When things worked just right, one circle’s colors picked up a little of another circle’s colors, and shades of secondary colors began to appear in their artwork! Of course, some of the artitsts got pretty excited about that, and began to smear their bunny caps around a bit much. But how wonderful that they understood they were making their own colors not available on the palette! They had only been given three colors, but their art had as many colors as mine did.  Here is the sample piece, actually done in a cheap paint that I would never use with the students. Their artwork on Artsonia is in vibrant primaries!

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Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching