Monthly Archives: January 2014

Warm and Cool Colors

I love Pinterest.  I’m just going to say flat out, that it is a great resource.  Not only are there a ton of ideas for lesson plans, but the inspiration overall in the art and design sections are fabulous.  I’ve been pinning ideas for lessons for over a year now, and when I’m in a creative pickle I go through all the ideas I’ve stored away in my “Teaching Ideas” folder and start thinking about how to revise the ideas into my own, and to work with my classroom.

A project that I saw that I really liked was this warm and cool color mixed media artwork that an art teacher created.  Unfortunetly I don’t have a sink in my classroom and I wanted the students to continue to practice their coloring skills.  I know it sounds strange, but it’s difficult to learn how to color well and many of the students need to continue to practice.  I decided that I would make it a coloring pencil project.

I also didn’t want to do self portraits.  As much as I believe that it’s important to draw yourself, that is a project I am saving for when we talk about balance and proportion.  I decided to let the students choose what they were going to draw.  I had a few stipulations, but for the most part they had freedom to choose their content.  Kids love that, and I love seeing what they come up with.

After talking in depth about color, and the difference between warm and cool colors (and how to make cool colors look warm, and warm colors cool off), I showed them the examples.  We talked a lot about craftsmanship.  I feel like we talk about it a lot, and the kids probably think I’m obsessed with craftsmanship, but it’s really what separates okay work for excellent work.  The level of craftsmanship can turn something pretty good into something either awesome or awful, depending on the level they have strived for.  Interestingly they always know what looks ‘good’ and what looks ‘bad’ and if prompted it’s easy for them to pick out the things that could have been improved upon (messy lines, not colored all the way, not enough contrast, etc.), as well as what they loved.  The things they love always have to do with one of two things; either the creativity of the project, or the level of craftsmanship.  I know.  I’m obsessed.  I hope by the end of the year they are too.

The project was fairly simple-the students were directed to create a representational line drawing.  Afterward they needed to divide up the space in an interesting way.  This could be by radiating lines out from the middle, drawing circles randomly throughout the page, or even with flower petals or straight lines.  Aftwards they needed to designate each divided large space as a ‘warm’ space or a ‘cool’ space and then begin coloring in.  Some of the more advanced students took some creative liberties with the project, but I was okay with that.  The ground rule is that they need to ask if they want to change a requirement and get approval.  In order to get approval they need to be able to defend their artistic decisions.

I gave them a demonstration on coloring after introducing the project.  We talked about the amount of pressure you put on your colored pencils, about layering in order to intensify the color, as well as glen and transition.  We talked about how to fix mistakes (‘cross-hatching’) and things to avoid (pressing down too hard, randomly changing direction).  

From there we created rough drafts, and started working.  I found that some of the kids really struggled with differentiating cool from warm, despite going over it multiple times (‘but the green looked warm!’), and in that sense the rough draft was even more invaluable than ever.  I was able to help work out kinks and clarify misunderstandings.  Some of the students still struggled with the directions, but for such a simple project it can be complicated.  Next go around I will work on my directions and see what I can do to help clarify the expectations.  Considering that, though, the projects turned out beautifully.  I might be biased, though, considering they’re my kids.  🙂

For more images check out the gallery!