Thursday, February 17, 2011

color and composition

5th-8th grade spent several classes working on color theory and exploring composition using organic and geometric shapes. We also learned what a triptych is and practiced our watercolor painting skills.

I like aspects of this lesson and other parts I feel could be stronger. Maybe you all can help me improve it for next year.

First I gave the kids some cardstock and asked them to draw five organic and/or geometric shapes. They were to make the shapes at least as big as a silver dollar. I forced a lot of kids to re-draw their shapes larger.

Next I cut a letter size piece of watercolor paper into thirds for each student and started teaching the word triptych. We spent a good amount of time discussing what makes an interesting composition and the ideas of variety, unity and balance. On each of the three pieces of paper they were to use all 5 of their shapes to make three distinct compositions. I encouraged overlap, allowed the shapes to run off the page and be allowed the shapes to be repeated as often as wanted.

After the compositions were created we reviewed basic color theory for warm and cool colors. I asked students to paint one part of the triptych in the warm colors, one in the cool colors and the third was student's choice. Finally the three parts were mounted on black paper to create the final work of art.
(the strongest of the bunch I think)
Next time I think I will make the students either draw the shapes even larger or make 7 shapes. I also will require them to use at least two of the shapes more than one time in each composition. The examples with just the five shapes done once are a bit boring. We also need to work on the idea of balance in a composition more. I feel they are still a bit lacking. Any ideas?
(she kind of does her own thing, but I'm ok with that. How many 7th graders do you know that have a clear "artistic vision" as she calls it.)


  1. I really like these -- especially arranged as triptych with the 3 color choices. I kind of like the 5 shape limit and having to use each shape in all three pieces. How about having them add the variable of different sized shapes in each third?? (A large, a medium and a small?)

  2. I put together a similar project for my seventh graders, it's really great to see a different approach! I like the idea of creating one image and cutting it into 3 smaller compositions like the second one from the bottom...I had my students create transfer images and we focused on primary, secondary and complementary/analogous color schemes. I'll be posting pictures soon. Thanks for sharing!