Friday, November 19, 2010

Paul Klee & the Color Wheel

Paul Klee & the Color Wheel: slide discussion

(slideshow here)

-Understanding color is important as an artist. If you learn the language of color, you can use it to convey a feeling, provoke emotion, highlight certain details, or even to give your picture a temperature.

-Three colors - called primary colors - are the basis for the color wheel. These three colors can be mixed together (along with black and white) to create pretty much any color you can think of. RED, YELLOW, BLUE. (If there are kids in the class who happen to have shirts on that are R, Y or B, it's kind of fun to have them come & stand in front of the class).

-When you put opposite colors against each other, it makes the other color POP (this is called a complementary color). (Again, you can call kids up based on the colors of their shirts to demonstrate - for instance, put a kid wearing an orange shirt back to back with a kid wearing a purple shirt)

-Warm colors are red, yellow, orange; Cool are blue, green, violet. Warm colors feel like they are moving forward, while cool colors tend to make things look further away. (Have the kids close their eyes and think of the coldest place they can think of - and then have them describe the colors they see in this place; likewise with a hot place. These kids were talking about how your lips turn blue when you get cold, and how volcanos spit out red fire.)

-An artist who loved color was the great Paul Klee (1879 - 1940), a swiss artist who painted in the 1900’s. He used color as a language, to create a sense of place in his pictures (the Tunisian watercolors) or of temperature (The Nile painting - the blue and white squares tell the story of a cool river - we know it's water looking at it, even though we don't see the shape of an ocean or stream). We can guess how he felt about what he painted by studying the colors he used.


materials: small piece of watercolor paper (about 4" x 6"); Red, Yellow, Blue and Gold liquid watercolors (you just need a TINY amount of this kind of paint. We passed out little cups, with about a tablespoon of paint in each, and put one cup on each child's desk, with a paintbrush in it. The kids shared the colors with the kids sitting around them. Note that the paintbrushes stay with the paint, not with the child, as the cups move around so the colors don't get muddled), brushes (small are best); little cups or bowls to hold the paint

1. Pass out paper, & have kids write name, teacher, and grade on the back. Then have them draw a grid. (Note: in the interest of time, you may want to guide the kids to make about six lines total. Lots of lines make a more detailed painting - which is awesome - but it will take longer to finish). No one needs to worry about their lines being perfectly straight or even - imperfect is best with this project.

2. Creative thinking: have the kids take a second to think about what they want to say with their painting. Do they want to make a picture of a hot place? Or of someplace cold? Or of a place that's both of those things? Or make a picture that feels happy, or serious? Before they start to paint, do they want to add any shapes like Klee did (look at the Tunisian paintings to see the domed roofs, or the volcanos...). If they want, they can create a horizon line to separate the earth from the sky...

3. Let the kids go to town painting. Guide them to try and use different colors in every square so they play around with mixing the colors right on their paper. The liquid watercolors are so vivid that it's really interesting to see what you get when you layer them on top of each other.

4. Enjoy the serendipity of what the kids end up creating!

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