Saturday, February 16, 2013

An Art Adventure with Vincent Van Gogh....

1st grade:  Following Anna's Art Adventure

Vincent van Gogh

"I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate."

Vincent Van Gogh, "Wheat Field with Crows"

slide from Anna's Art Adventure powerpoint

In first grade we are half way in our Art Adventure in finding that toilet!  Our pursuit has taken us to a "Wheat Field with Crows" where a 'trembling' man in a yellow straw hat was painting with many glorious shades of yellow.....
Vincent van Gogh.
We started our discussion with a short biography of Vincent van Gogh's life and how his emotions influenced his paintings.  His bold colors and 'shaky' lines were the perfect avenue for my students to look and explore the elements of art.

slide from Anna's Art Adventure powepoint

When we were discussing the various slides from the powerpoint, the focus was encouraging my students to investigate, study, analyze and evaluate (talk about) Vincent van Gogh's paintings in an effort to create a foundation of visual literacy.  Wonderfully enough, my students have become accustomed to looking, listening and talking, so we can spend 45 minutes doing just that!
A lot of the references and questions target the text from Anna's Art Adventure, building my students' skills of recollection and using prior knowledge towards offering answers.
slide from Anna's Art Adventure powerpoint

 Inspiration for this project came from Vincent van Gogh's numerous paintings of his sunflowers.  We did not paint sunflowers.  Rather I emphasized the idea in the book, regarding color to employ what they already know and introduce something new.

Looking at the artwork of Van Gogh really lent to a deeper study of color and the introduction of the color, to help my students understand how all these glorious colors that he used could be made.  We use our prior knowledge of the primary colors, learned much earlier with "Mr. Kelly" and "Mr. Mondrian", but this time we approached them in a very different, very mathematical and scientific way. Just like in math, we learned "ART EQUATIONS" and took notes to help us understand placement of colors on the wheel and reason.


For example:  
1+ 1 = 2  
Primary (1) + Primary (1) = Secondary (2)
Red= Primary= 1
Yellow= Primary = 1
Red + Yellow= Orange (2)
popcicle sticks were used to mix up each secondary color
It seems a lot more complicated than it really is but the students really grasped the idea.  To figure out the answer to each equation, we experimented with mixing the colors.  The amazement and incredible joy the students expressed from figuring it out was awesome!

slide from Anna's Art Adventure powerpoint
Part of the emphasis in the story about Van Gogh is his use of many different hues of the same color.  In the  book Vincent used sulfur yellow, ochre yellow, the pale yellow of lemonade.  So what can you do???
You make the "thirdary" colors....

Highlight: As I was at the board, writing out equations, talking about making another set of colors, out shouts a students, "Like the Thirdary colors??!!"  At that point I understood, that they understood the sequence created by color theory.  So what can you do?  
"Yes, we are going to make the Thirdary colors."

this color wheel was used to emphasize "families of colors"

We proceeded to learn how just a little white added to a little bit of color creates a lighter hue, making them part of the "families" of colors.  Of course this is the very simplified version but it worked ;-)
The students did a fantastic job following the instructional sequence and demonstrated new knowledge acquired everyday.  Although this part of our adventure was long, it was well worth the final results.

oil pastel helps the students organize their painting

oil pastes were force fields containing all the paint

Materials Needed:
white drawing paper
oil pastels
 tempera paints--primary colors 
 white tempera paint
    small brushes


What to do:
This process, of course, will vary depending on your own teaching practice, your students and your style:)
This art lesson took about 5-6 weeks (1 hour per week)

Thinking and painting
1. read page of Vincent van Gogh from Anna's Art Adventure

2. discuss the life and work of Van Gogh, show lots of examples---GET THEM LOOKING AND TALKING!!

painting with really small brushes, really helps
3. create color wheels by tracing paper plates and figuring out where colors go.  Help them understand "family colors" by organizing a big box of crayons

4.  draw their vase with a least 3 big blooms with LOTS of petals (I told them they needed 24 petals for each flower)

mixing "Thirdary" colors for wallpaper and tablecloth
5.  trace their pencil lines with oil pastels choosing colors they will use to paint

6.  paint within their oil pastels the coordinating color from our palette
7.  retrace with oil pastels to find all the lines we lost in the painting process (it always happens but we know how to find our drawings again)

8.  introduce "Thirdary Colors" and use them to create a patterned tablecloth and wallpaper 

9.  sign it! only first names----just like Vincent:) 
WOW!!! how in the world did we make light orange!?

me and my students: demonstrating painting technique
I love to see how engaged and "into it" my students are when they are excited and enthusiastic about what they are learning.  It makes me want to give them more.

Check back for updates to this blogpost with finalized project photos!  

See you back in the

xoxo, SMocK you.