Dots n' Spots

I had a bunch of Q-Tips left over from doing Primary Pointillism with my grade 2's, so I did this project with my grade 4/5's. It is an easy 1 hour class project, and you can talk about many things, including color contrast, shape, movement and rhythm. So depending where you are in your curriculum, there are quite a few Principles of Design that this project covers.

You will need:
  • - Sheets of black 8 1/2 x 11 construction paper
  • - Assortment of tempera paints
  • - Dixie cups (about 6-8 per group)
  • - Q-Tips (about 6-8 per group)
If I ever had my students sharing supplies, I moved them into groups of 4 or 5. The paints should be in the middle with a q-tip in each cup. Each student should have a piece of black construction paper.

I had my own piece of black construction paper taped to the board as well as an example painting I had done. I asked the students about "contrast". What does it mean? What are contrasting colors? (colors that are opposite from each other on the color wheel, and light/dark combinations). I had a color wheel on the board for the students to reference as well.

I told the students we would be making circles with dots. The color of the dots they chose had to be "contrasting" colors. This could either be opposite colors on the color wheel or a light/dark combination. They also had to make sure when picking their colors, that circles with the same colors don't touch each other.

I began by showing the students on the board how to begin their paintings. Choose a color and make a dot with q-tip paintbrush somewhere on your paper. Then choose a contrasting color and make dots all around this dot. Dots shouldn't be too far apart or two close together; you want the black of the paper to show through, but you also don't want huge gaps in between.

Keep going and alternating between colors for each circle of dots, until you have a medium sized circle. About 7-8 circles all together. If the circles start to go off the page, just let it happen.

Choose a new spot on the paper, and make a dot of a new color. Choose another contrasting color and continue to make circles like you did the first time. By this time, the students should be working on their own paintings. They don't need to follow along anymore, they just need the beginning demo.

Continue to pick new contrasting colors and make concentric circles with dots.

You'll notice that once a circle gets so big that you are running out of room, you just keep going as if the dots are disappearing behind the other circles. You don't want any black space left on the painting when you are done.

When students start to get to the end, I would stop them to show them how to finish the painting off. When you just have a few black spaces in the corners, just continue to make a dot and then put concentric circles around it. You want it to look like it disappears behind the other circles. You also don't want to choose colors that are the same as the circles beside it.

Here is a actual finished painting.

They look so beautiful when you hang them in the hallway...the colors just pop!

Architectural Drawing

A High School project I had my students do was an interesting Architectural Drawing.

I gave the upcoming project to them on Thursday so they had all weekend to prepare. Their job was to take pictures or find pictures of interesting architecture, and bring them to class on Monday. From here you can take it in two directions:

Option #1: The students create an architectural drawing with the pictures as reference points. I stipulated that it had to be a strange combination of regular ol' buildings please.

Sorry the picture isn't very good quality. Bad lighting.

Option #2: Have the students incorporate the photo's into the drawing (collage).

Just to show you there are photo's here:

This one is very M.C. Escher-ish:

*Last three drawings are my own. While this is a project I did with my high school students, I didn't take pictures of all of them. The first one is the only high school example I have.

Computer Color Theory

This is actually not so much an art project, but a way of incorporating technology into your lessons. I had been doing a color theory unit with my grade 2's and that week for our computer time, I decided we would play around in KidPix* and teach the students about more color theory.

(*If you don't have KidPix, Paint also works)

Whether you are in KidPix or Paint, all students should be following along with you. I was lucky and had my computer screen projected on a big screen for all the students to follow along. Adjust your lesson plan according to the technology you have available to you. The students were following along and everyone should have a tool for making solid rectangles selected.

We began with making a red square. I then asked the students what the complimentary color of red was? (Green) We then drew a green square in the middle of the red square.

I told the students that complimentary colors like each other so much, that they tend to vibrate when they are next to each other. I told the students to test out my theory by staring at their square....are their eyes going funny? We then made the inverse of the red/green square right below it.

Does the green/red square do something different to your eyes than the red/green square?

We then continued and made all the other complimentary squares - yellow/purple and blue/orange.

From there, we saved these into the students folders, but you could print them off and put them in the students portfolios.

Next we moved on to talking about MONOCHROMATIC. I told the students that monochromatic means a drawing or a painting is done in all the same color - just different lightness and darkness of that color.

I then very quickly drew a picture in paint using monochromatic colors to demonstrate.

I then gave the students some free time to draw their own monochromatic painting. It didn't have to be an actual picture, it could be just abstract shapes. My only stipulation was that they choose ONE color and then use all different shades of that color to make the painting.

The students liked having free time to play around in KidPix or Paint. They came up with beautiful monochromatic abstract drawings. We saved them to the students folders, but you could also print them off and put them in their art portfolios.

These are just simple ideas, but a great way to teach your elementary students about color theory as well as incorporating technology.