Wednesday, December 3, 2014

4th Grade Sunsets with Palm Trees

Mixing colors is one of my favorite things to teach. This lesson on mixing various shades of orange from red and yellow has been a favorite of mine and the students for a few years! The lesson is originally from an art teacher in Indianapolis Public Schools, who shared it during a workshop at an AEAI convention a few years ago.

Here are a few examples of student work:

The sunset background is a simple exercise in painting a yellow circle, gradually adding red to the paint, and painting a ring around the circle with each new shade.

Without enough guidance, some students paint palm trees that are just a few inches tall on this 12"x18" paper. I have developed a few rules to help the students paint the best palm trees they can.

First, they pencil in the tree trunks; they need to be at least as tall as the yellow circle in the middle of the page.

Next, coconuts are added, which are simple circles. The students can choose how many they want.

Next, about 5 lines are added coming out of the coconuts. The students often make these lines too short, so they have to get checked by me. Once I ok their lines, they may get a paint brush and begin painting.

First, the students paint in all of the shapes and lines they drew with pencil.

Then, they add small lines to the five branches. These lines can be any length and width, as there are many varieties of palm trees.

The same steps are followed for other palm trees.

Lastly, some sand is painted along the bottom of the painting. The land can be bumpy and lumpy; I like the students to just paint it, without sketching it ahead of time, but I always have a few students who are afraid to paint anything without drawing first!

This is the only step-by-step lessons I teach to 4th grade; generally, I leave a lot of room for creativity. But, this lesson is a huge confidence booster, as nearly every student leaves with a masterpiece; also, the students gain a lot from the color mixing portion of the lesson. After this project, most of the students are very comfortable mixing tertiary colors like red-orange and yellow-orange. And, despite the rigidity of the instructions, each student's palm trees end up looking so unique!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kindergarten Mixes Secondary Colors

As I gain experience in teaching art (almost halfway done with my 4th year!), I'm trying to harder to make each assignment by every student a finished piece of art. One thing that really hindered some pieces from being masterpieces in the beginning of my teaching career was all of the white space on the paper! I occasionally fixed that by using colored paper, but now I am really encouraging students to color all the way to the edge of the paper, no matter what the assignment. All of the famous paintings on my wall are painted in completely; there is no "empty space" where the artist didn't paint. So, I'm encouraging my students to do the same! Last year, while teaching kindergarten students to mix secondary colors, they painted a flower vase based on work by Henri Matisse. This year, I had the students use crayons to create a table and wall behind the vase. I think the finished pictures are better, and the students spent a little more time learning which colors are the secondary colors, as they had to find them in their crayon box, as well as mix them out of the primary colors. Here are a few of this year's secondary color flower vases:

Monday, October 13, 2014

3rd Grade Kites

As it's getting windy this fall, I thought kites would be a fun project for my 3rd grade students to use the principle of art pattern on. We discussed patterns that follow a rule, like an AB pattern, or an ABB pattern; but also, patterns that are just a design, and follow no rule. A pattern of dots can be random with big ones and small ones; or they can be lined up neatly, and follow a rule. Stripes can follow a rule, or they can be random colors.

After designing their kites on watercolor paper, I taught my students one of my favorite watercolor techniques: making clouds with a paper towel. The students painted their whole sky quickly with blue liquid watercolors and a large paint brush; then they dabbed away clouds with a balled up paper towel. They also used a paper towel to wipe away any watercolor that beaded up on the kites. Here are some results from the lesson: