Friday, January 28, 2011

My Favorite Project

You just have to love Monet's paintings.

The color...the quick it love it! So of course this is one of my favorite lessons to do with my students. I started it long ago - probably within the first couple of years of teaching. There has been a few years along the way that I have skipped it to try something new. Last year was one of those years...and I so missed it. So I knew that I needed to make sure and get it in this school year.

I usually target 3rd grade with this lesson. I love 3rd graders...they still have that sense of inhibition with their artwork but are more capable of understanding a bit more complex directions. They are also still very curious.

Here's a finished 3rd grade acrylic painting inspired by Monet-

I start the lesson out by showing the Getting to Know Monet dvd by Mike Venezia. I also have a PowerPoint of photos of Monet and the different paintings he did of the Japanese bridge that I go through with the students. This introduction and discussion takes up a whole class period but gives students a good introduction to Claude Monet.

The next class I show students how to use cotton swabs(q-tips) and sometimes stencil brushes to make quick marks to create the "impression" of trees in the background. Using cotton swabs instead of paintbrushes helps the students create quick marks instead of painting smooth areas. I encourage them to dab colors into colors to change the look of different areas of the trees in the background. We usually have time to also complete the water. The water is usually the only area that I have students use paintbrushes on. Large brushes allow for a base coat of blue to go on quickly. I remind student to still try and use quick impressionistic marks. Switching to cotton swabs, students are then encouraged to add other colors into the water like greens and white. I provide lots of Monet images to remind them of the impressionistic marks that they want to use as they paint.

The next class students finish the painting by adding bushes, the bridge, waterlilies, and any extras they wish to include. All of this painting is again done with cotton swabs. I demonstrate an area of my painting then allow them time to work on theirs. The demonstration is not for them to copy what I'm painting - but to learn how to use the tools to create different types of marks. When I show students how to do the bridge I use black first to paint the bridge lines then use a cool color to go over some of these lines. I finish the bridge off by adding some white onto the lines while the paint is still wet. We discuss how this addition of a little white makes the bridge "pop".

When they work on the waterlilies they need to be reminded to use impressionistic dabs and marks and not try to paint a flower shape. If students have time they might add extra bushes or other plants into the painting.

The results of this project are always wonderful!

This year I incorporated a bit of tech into this lesson. While students were working on finishing their paintings I took a picture of them standing in front of a green screen (a big piece of green bulletin paper tacked to a wall) posing as if they are standing on the bridge of their painting. I used Keynote's alpha tool to cut out the green so that I could place the student in a digital image of their painting. This will then be printed out and students will use paint to touch up the bridge in front of them to give the illusion that they are on the bridge in their painting. Students really loved this idea of being able to be a part of their own painting. We are still working on this part of the project - I will post a picture of a finished one as soon as I can.

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