Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dots, Swirls, and Dashes

Now this is a lesson that is more my style! Inspired by van Gogh, my Kindergarten students made a mixed media picture of anything their little hearts desired and learned how to add visual texture.
The idea for this lesson came from "Vincent van Gogh: Sunflowers and Swirly Stars" from the "Smart About Art" series by Crystal Productions. I'm now the lucky owner of 4 books from the series, purchased with gift certificates I won from contests at The smARTteacher. I found that the books are a little long for Kindergarten, so I used the pictures and paraphrased what was most important. The books would probably be best used for independent reading instead of reading to a group because of the unique style. The Smart About Art books are not your typical story book- each is written as if by a student working on a report about an artist. Very cool books. And now back to the van Gogh book, I really liked how they described his created texture as "dots, swirls, and dashes". The phrase makes it really easy for the students to understand how lines can be used to create texture.
After using the Smart About Art book to teach about van Gogh in the first class period, the students drew a picture of anything they wanted on 9x12 inch paper. I did suggest they choose an object or something made from simple shapes so they would not be frustrated with our time constraints. I checked the drawings as the students finished to make sure they were big enough. If the drawings were a sufficient size, I handed the students a paintbrush so they could begin to add color. 
I tried something a little different with managing supplies for this project. Each table had a tray with several colors of tempera paint in the middle, which is nothing new. The new idea is that I did not put out a tub of water. The biggest issue my students seem to have with tempera is wanting to, or accidentally, watering the paint down. It doesn't matter how many times we talk about "swish, wipe, blot", dirty water still gets dripped into the paint, messing it up for the other students. Instead, I just reminded the students to only get a little at a time, and to wipe their paintbrush on a dry paper towel when the wanted to switch colors. Simple and effective! I was really amazed at how well this worked. The students didn't waste as much paint as usual and the colors on their paintings still look clean. I wouldn't use this all the time since it's important for students to learn to take care of supplies, but it's good when time is in short supply!
In the second class period, we looked at a close up of The Starry Night (you can use Google Art Project or there's a photo on Wikipedia) to see the dots, swirls, and dashes. Then the students used oil pastels to add visual texture. I asked them to start on top of what they painted and then they could fill in the empty spaces.

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