For an introductory activity, I started out by showing the girls a picture designed to create an “after-image”. To see the after image, stare at the black dot in the middle of the yellow circles for 10-15 seconds. Then quickly move your eyes to the black dot in the middle of the white square. You should see the image of the circles in the white square, but the opposite color of the one you first stared at. For yellow, this would mean, nine purple circles.
Josef Albers “Color Diagram VIII-2”
The point of this activity was to talk about color and color relationships. We also talked about this painting by Richard Anuszkiewicz (“All Things Do Live in Three”).
Would you believe me if I told you the background was the same red color all throughout the painting? My students didn’t. But once I explained the effect, everyone thought it was pretty neat that the color changes in the circles made the entire background seem different throughout.
We talked about primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, as well as complementary colors and analogous colors.
We discussed Post-Impressionism, Vincent Van Gogh and his painting “Starry Night”.
At the end of our informational slideshow I asked how many students had written an essay. I told them that our lesson today was like an essay, but the answer was going to be an art project instead of writing.
Here was my art essay question:
What would Van Gogh have painted for his nighttime sky if he had lived on a different planet?
Here are some of the answers I got:
Of course, there was a little more to it than just whipping out these awesome drawings/paintings.
I inundated them with possible imagery. Including revisiting some of our Rock and Ball Space artists from two lessons ago.
As part of teaching for artistic behaviors, I want the girls to learn some of the processes that artists use. One process is preparatory sketching. In my ideal lesson plan, I wanted the girls to each create three possibilities for their alien landscape and select the best one. In reality, I knew that the process of sketching three drawings would take way too much of our time, and we wouldn’t get to the final steps of the project.
Instead, I had the girls begin by drawing a sketch of their alien starry night on tracing paper. This way they could make any corrections or changes without ruining their black paper with excessive pencil lines and eraser marks.
Then they learned a trick for transferring their drawings on tracing paper to the black construction paper.
I did a brief demonstration on how to make small marks to mimic Van Gogh’s painting style. This was my example below. I had this hanging up as a reminder of mark making, medium possibilities, and color schemes. (From left to right: chalk pastel/primary colors, oil pastel/analogous colors, acrylic paint/complimentary colors.)
I also pointed out and discussed the motion of the paint--the visual rhythm you can see as your eyes follow his marks. I was really proud to see some girls making a conscious effort to create rhythm in their drawings!
As usual, the speed at which everyone works is very different. Some girls didn’t finish their drawings because they were very cautious and detailed with their sketches. Some girls finished early. We still have things from previous workshops to wrap up, so there is never a lack of things to do.
Girls that finished early worked on painting their paper mache planets, finishing their rubber cement galaxies, and I worked on hanging everyone’s work around our space so that the girls and I could easily see all the things they had made thus far.