Fall is such an inspiring time of year and I love to incorporate the changing leaves into art lessons whenever possible. I am currently working on this lesson with my third graders this year; these examples were created by the students at the bilingual school I previously taught at.
We start out the lesson by viewing examples of real leaves that students bring in. I also like to show them Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins and Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert for additional examples and inspiration. We study the contours of the leaves, noting how some have wavy, zig zag, or curvy lines. Some are symmetrical while others aren’t. We talk about their shapes and the patterns the veins make.
After sketching out ideas, students draw one large leaf on black paper then outline with white glue. The next class, we view some close-up leaf paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and study the real leaves again, noticing how the colors blend softly together. Students use warm colors for the leaf and cool colors for the outside to create a bold contrast.
Each student’s leaf turned out so bright and colorful and the student’s loved how the lesson connected to the current season. They were so excited to share both their found leaves and their beautiful artistic representations!
4th grade students studied the Cubist paintings created my Swiss artist Paul Klee, focusing in on his Rose Garden masterpiece in particular. We discovered that in the Cubist style of painting, the artist uses lines to break up the picture plane into many different angles. Students took this inspiration to make a design using heart stencils they created and then drew over using horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines. Each newly created space was then colored in with crayon and painted over with liquid watercolor in a wax resist style.
Inspired by this lesson from A Faithful Attempt.
Students last year created these Jim Dine inspired heart prints exploring texture and printmaking techniques. We viewed examples of Dine’s well-known heart paintings, studying the many colors and paint techniques he used. We colored a background for our prints using construction paper crayons, though if I taught this lesson again a solid color would help the prints to stand out more. We read A Zeal of Zebras by Woop Studios to get some ideas for the texture to add to our foam hearts. Students then printed their designed hearts onto their backgrounds. For a finishing touch, students used a recycled toilet paper tube bent into a heart shape to print a frame for their heart designs. Printmaking is such a magical process for young students!
I have done this Georgia O’Keeffe flower lesson the last two years with my 4th grade students. We start out the lesson by viewing a Powerpoint showcasing some of O’Keeffe’s flower paintings as well as interesting facts about her life, including that she was born right here in Wisconsin. We discover how she wanted to paint flowers big so that even busy people would stop to notice their beauty and intricate detail. Some of my favorite books to share about O’Keeffe during this unit are:
My Name Is Georgia: A Portrait by Jeanette Winter
Through Georgia’s Eyes by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez
Georgia Rises: A Day in the Life of Georgia O’Keeffe by Kathryn Lasky
I also laminated a huge stack of flower photographs (recycled junk mail from a seed catalog!) for reference as they began their first sketches. This was a great way to bring in some science. The main goal of the lesson was to zoom in on the flower, making sure to capture each tiny detail as inspired by O’Keeffe’s style. Students drew their final flowers with pencil on black 12 x 12 paper, outlining their drawings with glue. Once the glue dried, we reviewed O’Keeffe’s paintings, noticing how smoothly her colors blended, often using monochromatic tints and shades. Students tried creating this effect by coloring thickly with similar shades of their chosen color using oil pastels. Check out all their details–what a success!
This was one of my favorite projects created by my Kindergarten students last Spring. To start out the lesson, we watched this short Sesame Street counting video featuring Andy Warhol’s flower prints. Students also viewed more of his flower prints, noticing how the prints were very similar except for the colors. This led us into a discussion on printmaking, a process that allows the artist to create many pictures out of just one, using a stamp, screen, or printing plate.
Students first stamped the grass using recycled cardboard. Next, they drew and cut out a flower shape from craft foam, gluing it onto a cardboard backing. The next class, after the stamps were dry, students printed their flowers onto pink and yellow construction paper. They really loved discovering how many flowers they could make from their one stamp! Each artwork turned out bold and vibrant, just like Warhol’s originals.
My youngest students always find our color mixing unit so magical. My favorite book to introduce the concept is Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. They love guessing what colors the mice will mix up next and I find many of my students I had previously in PreK will actually remember the formula for creating new colors! They are amazed that you can create so many new colors out of the three primaries.
After talking about the primary colors, I showed them a Powerpoint of Mondrian paintings, where we noticed that he used lots of rectangles and squares as well as the primary colors. They made a collage with black paper strips, creating different sized rectangles and squares.
The next class we went over the color mixing formulas. I worked with the students in small groups, making sure to only keep two primary colors at each table. So, I had an orange table, a green table, and a purple table. This really helped to give them the full color mixing experience rather than ending up with brown paint all over their papers. They mixed the colors inside each square or rectangle. They all had such a blast and were thrilled to discover they really could make a new color just by mixing two primary colors. Success!
Inspired by this project found on Artsonia.