Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunset and Sunrise in the High Desert

High Desert Art Project

Our school had a local mural artist come in and paint murals for each of the four wings of our school.  The principal then wanted each class to do an art project inspired by the wing name that their classroom was in.  Both of my 4th graders were in the same wing and Miss L asked me if I could come up with a project for S's class.  Their wing name is "Desert".  We live in a High Desert climate here in Central Oregon, so we went with that theme.

Materials Needed:
9x12 white construction paper
Watercolor paints
larger brushes
water cups
watered down black paint (tempera or acrylic)
straws
white crayons, salt, rubbing alcohol (optional)

 High Desert Art Project

 This turned out to be a fairly easy lesson to teach, that yielded some really interesting and cool results.

 High Desert Art Project

The lesson was on warm and cool colors as well as adding in some simple watercolor techniques with crayon resist, rubbing alcohol and salt.

 High Desert Art Project

PROJECT RULES
#1 Warm OR Cool colors only (although you can see several kids made a sunset with blue and then warm colors, tsk, tsk!) :-)
#2 No more than 2 "watercolor technique"
#3 Must have a horizon line
 #4 Must have at least 1 distinct element (meaning no narrow black line on the bottom and that's all)

 High Desert Art Project

First, they had to use the white crayons if they wanted to add some wax-resist. Then they started painting. I hate the little brushes that come in the watercolor sets (except for Prang's) unless you are doing some really detailed water coloring. Our white paper at school is unfortunately not the premium construction paper and it dries even quicker than the one I use at home. (And there is no way we can afford even cheap watercolor paper, alas!) So this does make the watercolor techniques harder for the kids to do because the paint dries so quickly. I give them bigger brushes so they can do a better wash technique and so they can get a bit more water on the paper (but making sure to tell them to really work their colors up or else they get too watered down). So as they were painting, they tried to add salt and or rubbing alcohol.

 High Desert Art Project
We talked about color washes and blending - which some kids did and some kids did not - again not super easy to do with this paper. They were supposed to choose morning or evening (cool or warm) but again, some did not totally follow the directions. :-) (But they all turned out amazing, nevertheless!) Then they used a brush to dab on some watered down black paint and used a drinking straw to blow it into shapes.

 High Desert Art Project

I showed them how to continue to dab a little black paint and then blow in different directions for making different elements and shapes. Our high desert has some really cool features of scraggly juniper trees and pines and grasses and those all made for very inspiring silhouettes that were easy to duplicate with just some paint, a straw, and their imaginations.

High Desert Art Project

They all had to name their work of art as well. That made it even more fun to look at their art and then read their title.

 High Desert Art Project

As you can see, they really enjoyed the blowing part of their art. Actually, they really enjoyed all of it - the blowing part was the most enthusiastic part!

 High Desert Art Project

 I was amazed at some of the organic shapes they created. The one below had a bird flying from some foliage. And I must not have taken a close-up, but one young man had created a blown silhouette that looked like a deer with antlers!

 High Desert Art Project

Definitely a lesson to do again with other classes. And it turned out to be such a great representation of our unique landscape here in Central Oregon.

 High Desert Art Project

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