Magazine article Arts & Activities

Primary and Secondary Patterned Portraits

Magazine article Arts & Activities

Primary and Secondary Patterned Portraits

Article excerpt

Nothing can equal the excitement that children find in rich colors of tempera paint and a blank piece of paper. Give them a brush and they are ready to fill the paper with color and pattern.

However, our district has curriculum goals for art that students are expected to meet at each grade level. Sometimes it is challenging to meet these goals without dampening the students' natural enthusiasm. This portrait lesson encouraged the students' enjoyment of painting and introduced them to the artworks of van Gogh and Matisse. Not only did the lesson meet several of our first-grade curriculum goals, but the resulting paintings were extraordinary.

One of our goals for first-grade students is to recognize and discuss subject matter in art. We began this lesson by looking at and discussing portraits painted by Vincent van Gogh. We admired his use of bright color and students looked for his use of primary and secondary colors.

Another goal in first grade is to mix primary colors to make secondary colors. Although this could have been easily achieved by mixing small amounts of paint into splotches of color, it was much more interesting for students to mix the colors as they painted colorful self-portraits.

First-grade students are also expected to develop patterns in their artwork. As we looked at colorful paintings by Henri Matisse, students identified the various shapes that make up patterns in his work.

After a brief review of how to mix primary colors to make secondary colors, and a reminder to paint large, the students were ready to begin. I divided the students into groups of four. They stood across from each other on either side of a table. Paint cups filled with primary colors, cups of water, large and small tempera brushes, mixing trays and paper towels were centered in the middle of the table. …

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