Color is a very complex art element and elicits diverse responses from people. Colors can be labeled as warm or cool causing people to feel certain emotions. Very simply defined, warm colors approach red-orange and cool colors approach blue and green. Colors suggest certain moods and can symbolize abstract ideas like freedom and hope. "Response to color is so complex because we react to it in three ways that are all merged together: visually, emotionally, and symbolically" (Silberstein-Storfer, p.85). It therefore seems appropriate that my young students, who have been carefully examining paintings done by some masterful artists, have the opportunity to experiment with color and create some artwork of their own, perhaps trying to imitate the styles they have seen.
In designing the following lessons, I have used Topal's
Children and Painting
as my primary resource. According to the theory of color, there are six basic colors on the color wheel which are divided into two groups. The primary colors are red, yellow and blue and cannot be made by mixing other colors. The secondary colors, green, orange and purple, lie between the primary colors on the color wheel and are made by mixing the primary colors together. In order for my students to get a clearer sense of how colors combine to create other colors, I will begin by having them paint a color wheel. Lesson Plan III will describe this project in more detail. Essentially, my students will take a circular paper, 12" in diameter, and, using tempera paints, paint small circles of each of the primary, secondary and intermediate colors on the wheel, correctly positioning each one. They will mix the colors on small mixing palettes and take delight in the combinations they create. Through this lesson they will learn which colors contrast, which ones dull each other, and which color combinations are pleasing to the eye. As a result of this project, they will gain a better understanding of why the color wheel is called the artist's reference sheet.
Our next project will be composing a color collage and mixing media. I will instruct the students to choose one color and then try to find tints, shades and mixtures of that color from a box of assorted types of colored paper. After cutting the papers into geometric and freeform shapes, they will arrange them on a large piece of white drawing paper and then glue them on. After the glue has dried, they will prepare to paint over the paper shapes with tempera paint using the originally selected color, a related color and white. They can mix the colors on a small palette or directly on the paper and are to cover the whole paper with a mixed range of hues and tints. These mixed-media artworks will be displayed in the room.
I will begin this next lesson by displaying a poster size print of Georges Seurat's
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
, explaining that this artist invented a new painting technique called pointillism. I will call attention to the way in which the colors in this print seem to recombine as we view them. Pointillist painting consists of small dots and touches of pure bright color. When viewed from a distance the dots blur together to form other colors. In this lesson the students will have the opportunity to imitate this technique. They will quickly notice how mixing dots of certain colors create other colors. It is best to use white paper that is small in size (5" x 6") because it will take time the fill the paper with dots. They can choose between using crayons, craypas, tempera paints (using Q-tips) or felt-tip markers for this project. I will instruct them to use three primary colors plus white and they will be able to decide on their own subject: a scene from a window, an object in front of them, a photograph or a magazine picture.
In this fourth activity my students will gain an appreciation of the range of shades within a single color. For this project they will use watercolors on white drawing paper. I will instruct them to begin by selecting a simple subject or scene and to sketch it first in pencil. I will tell them that we are going to create a monochromatic painting using only one color but we will use many shades of it. By mixing different amounts of water with the selected color, they will be able to create and use many shades to paint over their sketch. If done correctly, they will be able to show a 3-dimensional nature of their subject. I will instruct them to use dark tones for the shadow and light tones for areas exposed to light.
I have found that young people have an acute curiosity about art and a real appetite for examining its possibilities in order to give expression to their own feelings and insights. It is never too early (more often it is too late!) to provide opportunities for nurturing and developing a vital and informed appreciation of art in our young people, and that is what I have set out to do in my curriculum unit.