• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

Saturday, April 10, 2010

cityscapes on watercolor background

This second grade lesson combines a watercolor wash, drawing with construction paper crayons, symmetry, and a little color theory. In another version, students draw symmetrical cityscapes on black paper, but one day I came across sunset cityscapes at the TeachKidsArt blog which inspired me to combine the two ideas.

First, students use sponges and either warm or cool colors for the washes. They wet the whole paper first with the sponges using clean water, then fill the paper with color, either stroking or blotting the paint. If papers are not wet enough, I am right there with a spritzer bottle. :-). I have them use sponges for the wash because I don't have any large-sized watercolor brushes. The sponges have the additional benefit of adding some interesting texture. The washes are put aside for later (in our case, this is weeks later).

For the cityscape drawing lesson, I first have students observe and discuss several photographs and art examples of cityscapes. Then I ask them to tell me what they know symmetry. The most common responses usually refer to a line, so I use questioning to bring the discussion around to what it means to be symmetrical, and how we know something is symmetrical. I also introduce the word bilateral, explaining that "bi" means "2" and "lateral" means "side" -- this leads students to the idea that bilateral symmetry means that two sides are the same.

The cityscape is drawn on black construction paper using construction paper crayons (which they love!). I suggest that students first draw a horizontal base line, then start with the center building. They color in doors, windows, and roofs before adding two identical buildings on each side of the center one. They work out from the center two buildings at a time, coloring in all details. When the drawings are complete -- that is, they have drawn as many buildings as will fit -- they cut around the buildings and glue the silhouette onto their own watercolor wash.

After students have a chance to walk around and see everyone else's work, I have them discuss with a partner what they like most about their composition, and explain how they used bilateral symmetry.

Friday, April 2, 2010

mixing colors

The whole point of this activity is to let my second grade students mess around with primary colors to make secondary colors. I also throw in a little mini-lesson on using the brush appropriately and encourage students to not only use equal amounts of two primary colors, but also to use UNequal amounts to create different shades.

Rather than have all students use all three colors, I set up each of three large tables with two primary colors of tempera paint in small containers: one table with red and yellow, one table with blue and yellow, and one table with blue and red. Students choose which table at which to paint. Each student gets a small paper plate on which to mix paint, and a medium-sized round watercolor brush.

My directions are pretty basic: I suggest that they use the paper plates to mix colors, and make sure they understand that they don't need to paint a picture of something but that they can just play around with lines, shapes, and patterns. I also ask that their finished painting have at least three different colors. This confuses some students, but I try not to say more than that.

The first time I did this activity I figured that, at the very least, students would use both primary colors and one mixed color. I found that some students used only mixed colors and figured out on their own that adding more of one of the primary colors would alter the color. Others needed a little creative questioning: "How much red did you use?" "What would happen if you used more yellow?" and the like.

For some students, color mixing is not new. For others, and a surprising number of them, they are surprised to get green or orange or purple. I find that kind of sad. Some students like to paint a picture of something, others are happy to play with lines, shapes, or patterns. I was surprised and curious to find some students spending an inordinate amount of time painting the paper plate itself and avoiding the paper altogether.

Discussion is pretty basic, relating to which primary colors create which secondary colors. It is during the discussion that I introduce the words primary and secondary, and show a color wheel.