Sunday, May 12, 2013

3rd Grade Monochromatic Paintings

 I shared a while back that Greg Percy would be visiting my schools to give two assemblies with his "Songs in the Key of Art". I will share some pictures and more about that experience soon, but first I want to share some of the lessons I tied to his songs and taught prior to his visit. 3rd grade students listened to a song about tints and shades before making monochromatic tempera paintings. Since I'm transitioning to giving the students more and more choices, the students drew whatever they wanted, knowing that they would be using tints and shades of only one color to paint. 

After the introduction on the first day and seeing lots of examples of monochromatic paintings, the students started to draw. At the beginning of the second class period, I gave a demo and showed a watercolor painting I made in high school when learning about tints and shades. I pointed out how the frog in real life was not red and neither were the leaves, that I had changed the colors and used different values to keep everything from blurring together. The students seemed like they understood and started painting. Then they totally forgot how to stay inside the lines. I showed again how to paint the outline of one shape at a time and how to differentiate between parts of the painting with different values, and most still struggled. 
This is a "typical" example of one of my 3rd grader's monochromatic paintings. You can see an attempt to create different values but the lizard that was drawn on the tree has been totally obliterated. I was getting frustrated and questioning how I didn't know this would be too hard for most of the students. What didn't occur to my pregnant brain until after, is that yes, it may have been a bit too hard, but the students would probably have been more successful had they been given a chance to practice mixing tints and shades before starting to paint. That's the challenge- finding the balance between opportunities for expression and technical skills. I think that the students' ideas and expression are more important, but technical skills help them to better communicate those ideas. 
I grouped the students in seats by color choice to make paint distribution quicker.
Soooo, I would probably not recommend a monochromatic painting lesson for 3rd graders. However, if you happen to be planning to teach your students about tints and shades, check out Greg Percy's song! It's still stuck in my head- "to make a tint you add some white, then your color will be more light"... "when you add black you make a shade, it's true...."

Here are some of the more successful student examples:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Katie, so in January I introduced monochromatic painting to a class of 4th graders. Because they study our state's history in 4th grade, I spent time collecting about ten different photographs of Washington State landscapes - ones in which the tints and shades were clearly delineated. Each artist had the picture of their choice in front of them as we began painting. I totally understand your level of frustration - they didn't know how to mix tints and shades as adeptly as my lesson required. I kept wishing that they had had an introduction to tints and shades in 3rd grade! I have to admit the paintings eventually turned out well - fortunately I had two hours to work to work with this class. Check them out on Artsonia under Lake Forest Park elementary School - monochromatic landscapes. Look at it this way, next year or in 5th grade, they will be ready to tackle a more sophisticated monochromatic lesson - you laid the groundwork!