Kandinsky Color Theory

We all see Kandinsky inspired art in like every single art teaching book. I decided to use Kandinsky as a way to finalize our color theory unit. Students learned how to paint a color wheel, how to mix primary into secondary, what the complementary colors are, what the warm and cool colors are the order of the rainbow. These were all mini lessons leading up to this.

After all the mini lessons we reviewed by playing the color game, where I give them stripes of all 6 colors and you ask questions like what is the opposite of blue and they quietly raise the orange strip. Students can lead this game at their tables or with the whole class. Put the strips in rainbow order, wave the warm colors, wave the secondary colors. You can see who remembers and who will need extra attention.

I show them the Kandinsky circles and we talk about color feelings and choices. They know a lot about color and they know about what feelings a color can portray from the warm/cool lesson.

This whole painting is planned on a worksheet. I give them a handout with 6 boxes and on top it reminds them all the color combinations. They have to color in with markers/crayons/colored pencils their entire project before they get to paint on big paper. 4 out of the 6 boxes have to be a pattern of one of these: primary colors, secondary colors, complementary colors, rainbow order, warm or cool colors. The 5th and 6th box are free color order, and students usually just pick from the list.

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Once their planning sheet is filled we practice painting in rings on a smaller paper to gain confidence before they head over to the big paper. I tape their planning paper to the back so they can refer to it and follow their plan.

If they mess up explain the beauty of painting that we can always wait for it to dry and paint over it! To keep my sanity I previously pour out paint into cups and keep 1 brush per cup and a water cup with extra brushes. They know not to mess with the colors and always make sure their brush is super clean before switching colors. Tickle the bottom of the water bucket, wipe the excess water on the edge of the bucket, dab it on paper. Tickle, tickle, tickle, wipe wipe wipe, dab, dab dab. They like that.

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Recycled Art

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I adapted this project for my campers a couple years ago. Originally I subbed this lesson in a middle school. It was more connected to the idea of recycled art because you can paint endangered animals on the cans. Instead, because it was summer camp we used emojis to decorate the cans and the campers loved that idea.

The inspiration comes from an artist named Charles Kaufman

http://www.crushed-can-art.com/kaufman-crushed-can-art.html

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Have the kids flatten their cans by stepping on them carefully. You have to take care with the top and bottom and make sure it folds over the right way, so it isn’t just mindless stomping. Trace the can 4 times on a paper. They have to try 4 different designs before committing to one. When they picked an animal or emoji ask them to think about colors and backgrounds. If you’re doing the animals they can research what the animal eats. If you’re doing emojis you can do patterns and colors.

Prepare the can by paintings it with white tempura paint 1 or 2 coats, 2 is probably better. They can do this after they trace so it is dry and ready for next time but you can always use a blow dryer to make it dry faster but be careful because it can get super hot!

When they decide on a design they can use a pencil to draw it on the prepared white tempura. Depending on the age and skill of your painters you can have them paint the subject first and then the background surrounding it. Or you can have them do a base color for the background then the subject on top. I just like to do the animal/emoji first because they can draw it with pencil on their cans and see it better.

You can glue gun string to the back and have it hang or hot glue it to a matte board and it will loose nice and framed!

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Secondary Colored Sunsets

fullsizerender1I did this project with PK to teach them how to mix primary colors into secondary colors. Each day they’d make a new color. We started on the carpet and I’d find someone wearing the color of the day (green, orange, purple). Make a big deal abut that color! Today we are painting with green (or orange or purple) but oops! I ran out of green paint! What do I do?! Amazingly some PK students will tell you to mix blue and yellow together, if not show them a magic trick! Put yellow all over the page, making sure to use a lot of paint to keep it nice and juicy. Now I will make magic, adding only a little but of blue and spreading it around. The kids will be very excited to see the magic happen. Talk about all the things that are green (orange, purple) and make a list. You can also add texture to the green paper by using scratch brushes or a pencil point and talk about texture. This will give them something to do when they’re done making the color.

Each child receives a new paper that I previously had written their names on the back and taped to either a covered table or whatever you use to keep the table clean because this will get messy. Taping the paper down really helps because then the kids don’t have to touch the paper.

Give them cups of yellow paint and tell them to cover the whole paper yellow. remind them to keep the paint nice and juicy because if it dries you can’t make magic. Walk around the room and as you see the papers turn yellow hand out the blue cups. Remind them to only dip the tip of the brush into the blue so the magic will work. Blue is a strong color so you only need a little.

As the papers turn you can hand out some tools for scratching and they love to do this. By the third color the kids get the process and do it on their own. I recommend big fat brushes for the kids who don’t have the grip yet.

I keep a table set up with the color of the day crayons and paper so that as they finish and clean their hands they can go there and continue to color in the color of the day. This will give you time to get the paintings on the drying rack.

Before you let them leave show two versions of the color. So if you’re doing green show a green that is more yellow and one that is more blue. Ask what the differences are and let them tell you. Ask why they think they are different. They can see how to achieve a darker blue green by adding more blue, or a lighter yellow green by adding less blue and talk about what you’d use these colors for!

Last day, assembling the sunsets. Purple is for the background, orange for the sun, green for the grass. Show them how it is done on the carpet first. I make a half circle on the back of all the oranges for them to cut and follow the line. The rays can be done 2 different ways. Kids can cut them or rip them, depending on their ability with scissors. Show them to add glue to the back of their pieces first, then glue it down on the purple paper. Show them how to cut the grass, by ripping or cutting a strip and ripping or cutting halfway along the strip. Glue it all together and done!

Aboriginal Dot Paintings

This is a super fun project that any kid can do. The drawings are simple as they were made by the aboriginals, and anyone can make dots.

I started out by showing the kids a map of the world. Kids know about the native Americans (hopefully) and the Aboriginals in Australia have similar culture. Discuss things about Australia and the Aboriginal life.

Students were fascinated about the Aboriginal symbols. They had lots of questions about them. We start out by using the symbols to write a story. They have to write the story in English and in Aboriginal. Once they have a story they can tell it to one another at their tables to see if they make sense to each other.

Then they use the back of their planning paper to sketch out how the symbols will be arraigned compositionally. Some symbols can be larger, others small. Can we repeat symbols to fill up space like stars or animals or trees. Symbols don’t even need to be right side up. Once a design is sketched they move it to a big brown paper, pencil first, outline sharpie. The symbols that can we colored in we used earth tones and made a list together what earth tones are and why.


Dots. As a class we practice making dots on a practice paper. Show them how to gently make the dots using Qtips. Show them how it to do it like to not bang the Qtip. Once they get the hang of it they can apply the dots to final paper!

Feel Good Words

Originally this project belonged to a friend of mine. She called it Feel Good Words. It is based off of Robert Indiana’s famous LOVE stamp. I did it with 4th and 5th grades.

Prior to this the students learned color theory. They made their own color wheels, learning how to mix primary to secondary first. From the color wheel we saw that it puts the colors into rainbow order, how complementary colors are opposite one another, and grouping of warm and cool colors. You have to do all this before which turns this project into a nice unit. I will post on how I taught each color relationship in future posts.

Students brainstormed 4 letter feel good words in groups, then chose which one they wanted. Be sure to remind them they’ll be stuck with this word for a while.

We also looked at the work of Romero Brito who uses patterns in his work. This is for breaking up the letters and boxes so there is more room for color.

Out of the 4 boxes they had to follow the rules of color theory. One box could only have primary  colors, the next could be in rainbow order, or just warm colors or just cool.

They made a mini version of it on their worksheet using pencil then markers. Once that was planned out they got started on the big paper. Pencil first, then paint!

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Fall Trees

img_3588We forget how young PreK is and how little they can do. Ripping paper is good for strengthening their hands.

We started out by talking about what’s going on with the trees outside. They should be able to discuss how the trees are changing and how winter is coming.

We look at pictures of trees and discuss what shapes we see. The trunk is a long skinny rectangle, and branches are smaller rectangles or just lines. We use brown to do this. Remind them not to add leaves yet because we’ll be gluing them on later. Once the tree is done talk about the ground line and make that in green for grass.

That can take one period, so next time they can do the leaves. Show them how to rip the paper about the size of the top of their little fingers. Doesn’t really matter as long as the peices aren’t too big or small. Talk about where the leaves would go, some on the branches, falling down or already on the ground in a pile.

Depending on ability some students will need help with the glue. I used glue sticks for this. Show them how to put glue on the paper then stick the leaf on. For some kids you can just cover a whole area with glue n let them go sticking.

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Complementary Colors

Opposite Day! Introducing complementary colors! I started out by saying silly things that are opposite from what was true. So if it’s sunny outside I’ll say it’s raining. If I see a kid smiling I’d say he’s sad. Then the kids would quickly say some things that are opposite to get them excited.

You can do this as a review of complemtarty colors or to learn them from scratch. If they’ve learned it before you can point to a color wheel and see who remembers. I use 3 fun examples for complementary colors to help them remember:

Green/Red = Christmas

Purple/Yellow = Lakers

Orange/Blue = Mets/Knicks/Islanders

This really helps students remember make sure to provide a visual of all 3.

I also do a color strip game. Students receive all 6 colors in strips of paper you can quickly chop using a paper cutter and paper clip each set together for easy distribution. Ask the students to only wave the answer and not say it outloud. What’s the opppsite of green, they’d wave the red strip! Then you can let the students play teacher and call out the colors. Later on you can use these strips even more grouping the primary, secondary, warm, cool and arraigning them into rainbow order. They love playing the game as review.

The Opposite picture is further review. Make a list on the board of everything that’ll go into our picture: sun, sky, grass/tree tops, mountains, brick house/building, and tree trunk. Ask students, what color would you normally color in a sky? Blue! But it’s Opposite Day so what will we use instead? Orange! They can use their strips again here. Show students photographs of tree trunks where the wood can look a little orange. This will give you you’re blue opposite. Mountains can look purple in certain times of day in the distance, find an image of this and you have your purple opposite.

Once this is established, they can draw their pictures in pencil first. As they become ready to color make sure they have a cheat sheet list of all the opposites for reference.

When white comes up, like clouds, ask them what they think the opposite of white is, they already know it’ll be black! Outline with black sharpie!