This project introduces students in grades K-8 to new artistic styles, giving them an appreciation for an artist's work, as well as teaching them some art history.
I introduced this lesson to each grade by presenting examples of the artist's works either from posters or books. We discussed the distinctive features of each artist's style, when in history he or she lived and worked, the artist's nationality, and what movement he or she belonged to (for example, Impressionism, Modernism, Cubism). For materials, we used crayon resist with watercolors (Monet); markers (Picasso); tempera paints (Pollock, van Gogh, O'Keeffe); and cut-paper, tape, and glue (Matisse, Kandinsky, Mondrian).
For the youngest students, I chose Jackson Pollock. After all, what could be more fun than dipping pieces of wool into paint pots and slinging them over a clean piece of paper? Pollock represents freedom of expression and students love having no boundaries.
I started the first grade lesson by reading Pierre in Monet's Garden. The story ends in Giverny where Monet painted the famous water lilies. To imitate the water garden, they used the crayon/watercolor resist method. I photocopied line drawings of three lilies and three lily pads. Students colored them with crayons, pressing hard to imitate Monet's vibrant colors. They cut out the flowers and pads and glued them onto another piece of white paper. The magic came when the colors popped out of a blue watercolor wash.
Kandinsky's pictures are about abstract shape and contrast of bright colors. I gave the second grade students bright colored paper, some already in shapes, and let them be as expressive and imaginative as they wanted. By working against black paper, the results were vivid.
The study of van Gogh allowed the third grade students to learn about texture, and we implemented many types of strokes in the flowers and backgrounds. I brought in a vase of fresh sunflowers and placed them in front of the room, with students sitting in a U configuration. We discussed still-life paintings and looked at van Gogh's Sunflowers. I pointed out that each student might see the vase and flowers differently from the angle at which he or she was sitting. I allowed a lot of freedom of expression, not expecting the petals and leaves to be completely accurate. …