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Color "Change Up".

How do you change up the project to teach the same concepts? Teaching and reviewing color theory so students become totally familiar with the concepts is always an art teacher's challenge. Getting the students to "speak the language" is also challenging. This project is one that is specific to test the student's knowledge of the concepts and gets them to speak the language of color.

STUDENTS BEGAN by brainstorming familiar shapes in their sketchbooks. They made two columns: one for geometric shapes and the other for organic. After 15 minutes, students each selected one shape, which they drew in three sizes.

Next, they cut the shapes out and arranged them on 9" x 12" sulfite paper. Students traced the shapes at least 10 times on the paper, as I encouraged them to touch all four sides with their shapes.

Students then designed the interiors of their shapes with patterns or designs. For ideas, we looked around the room at patterns or designs occurring in clothing, accessories, wood, wallpapers, packaging, and so on.

For the background, students applied black Prismacolor * soft-core colored pencil to the negative space, then added Indigo Blue and Tuscan Red, in that order. All three of the colors blended to made a rich background for the shapes.

THERE WERE 10 COLOR SCHEMES students could use for their shapes; if there were more, some could be repeated as long as they were balanced throughout the composition.

1. PRIMARY Students used yellow, red and blue colored pencils to fill in the positive space of their first shape. If there are more than 10 shapes in the composition, the primary color scheme could be repeated in another shape.

2. SECONDARY Students filled in the positive space of their second shape using the secondary colors: green, orange and violet. I teach this by having the students remember the abbreviation for the word "governor" (GOV). If there are more than 10 shapes the colors can be repeated

3. INTERMEDIATE The students used Prismacolor pencils to mix yellow-orange, yellow-green, red-orange, red-violet, blue-green and blue-violet within the third shape. Learning there are two colors that start with red, two that start with blue and two that start with yellow, and that the primary color comes first and then the secondary color is added to the name helped students retain this information. There had to be enough patterns in this shape to hold all six colors.

4. COMPLEMENTARY Students learned this term by remembering there is an O and a P in the word "complementary" and there is an O and a P in the word "opposite." I teach this term by looking at the color wheel and have the students see the six pairs of colors that are complements. The students selected one pair of complements for the fourth shape.

5. MONOCHROMATIC To teach this, we dissect the word: "mono" means one; "chroma" means color. Students selected one color from the color wheel and added three tints and three shades to it. A minimum of seven colors for this shape was required.

6. ANALOGOUS By emphasizing the "n" in "analogous" to equate with the "n" in the word "neighbors," students learned this term. They chose any three colors next to each other on the color wheel, and added three tints and three shades to each. When done, the students will have mixed 21 colors. (Keep in mind that the shape needs to have enough spaces for 21 colors.)

7. TINTS Students learn this by remembering there is an "i" in the word "tint" and an "i" in the word "white." The students chose five colors, to which they added white to achieve three different tints of each of the five colors. This resulted in 15 different colors.

8. SHADES For this term, students remember that there is an "a" in the word "shade" and an "a" in the word "black." They choose five colors and add touches of black to make three shades of each, adding up to 15 colors total.

9. WARM Anything that resembles sunshine is considered a warm color. Yellow, yellow-orange, orange, red-orange and red are considered warm colors. The students will have five colors on this shape.

10. COOL Any colors that resemble water (e.g. a lake or ocean) is considered to be a cool color. Blue, blue-green, green, blue-violet, and violet are the cool colors. The students will have five colors on this shape.

QUICK TIP While the students are working on the shapes they will find the Prismacolor pencils will cause little specks of color on the surface of their drawing. A great remedy for this is for them to use a piece of rolled masking tape to pick these up off their paper as they are working.

A display of completed projects would always follow, providing students an opportunity to share their color knowledge with viewers. This is a great project for beginners, but can act as a review for more advanced students.


High-school students will ...

* become familiar with the color wheel and use color schemes.

* use terminology relating to the color wheel.

* become familiar with geometric and organic shapes.

* become familiar with positive and negative space.


* CREATING: Conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work.

* PRESENTING: Interpreting and sharing artistic work.

* RESPONDING: Understanding and evaluating how the arts convey meaning.

* CONNECTING: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context.


* 9" x 12" sulfite paper

* Scissors, rulers

* Graphite pencils, erasers, colored pencils (Prismacolor)

Sandi Pippin of Houston, Texas, recently retired after a 38-year career in art education.
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Author:Pippin, Sandi
Publication:Arts & Activities
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2014
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