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Flowers and landscape by serendipity.


* Live or artificial flowers

* Pencils

* Sketchbooks

* Watercolor paper

* Masking tape

* Assorted colored tissue paper

* Large watercolor brushes

* Water bowls

* Paper towels

* Newspaper

* Plastic wrap


Students will

* become familiar with the art of the Impressionists.

* create a landscape from a spontaneously developed background.

This lesson begins with having students draw from life in their sketchbooks. For this purpose, I bring live or artificial flowers to class. The students determine from what position to draw the flowers, propping them up using their books, purses or water bowls.

This can be expanded to include trees or flowers on the school grounds, or neighborhoods around the school. If the weather doesn't cooperate, students can draw trees by a window from inside the school. Decorative plants inside the building also make interesting subject matter.

PREPARING THE WATERCOLOR PAPER Various techniques can be used to "pre-tone" watercolor paper (you may determine the size of paper for the students to use). The first is to place small crumpled pieces of colored tissue paper on the watercolor paper. A watercolor brush is then used to generously add water to the tissue. As the tissue is flattened by the water, it stains the watercolor paper. Continue this process with additional pieces of colored tissue paper (do not remove the tissue paper). Allow the paper to dry overnight.

For the second technique, wet a small section of watercolor paper with water. Drop in watercolor paint, using the wet-on-wet technique. While the paint and paper are still wet, place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the painted section, making sure the wrap is wrinkled. Place each piece of wrap down once and do not remove. Continue to paint and add wrap, section by section, to the entire watercolor paper.

In technique three, wet the entire watercolor paper. Apply washes of watercolor without a traditional brush. Instead, use a spray bottle, yarn, sponge, straw, toothbrush, leaves and interesting textures to add color.

The fourth and final technique simply entails combining any or all of the above techniques together. In all cases, allow the watercolor paper to dry overnight.

LET'S SEE WHAT DEVELOPS Now comes the fun part! Have the student tape, pin or clip their papers up around the room. Have them stand 6 feet or more away from the piece. They will look at the piece and try to find something to develop. Have the student rotate their paper and, with each rotation, try to find something. One side will predominate with a unique composition. After the student decides which side to develop, discuss the compositional devices that can be used. We use the "CLOUTIS" system, where each letter represents how the elements in the composition could be organized in the space. The elements could be arranged in the form of the letter C in the composition or L, and so on.

IMPRESSIONISTIC INFORMATION Now is the perfect time to discuss Impressionism with the students. In 1874, an art critic named the Impressionist movement after looking at Monet's painting Impression, Sunrise. The critic did not think favorably of the unfinished-looking painting.

The Industrial Revolution helped fuel the Impressionists, who concentrated on people at work and play, and real-life themes. The railroad allowed city people to visit the countryside. This appealed to the Impressionists. Women Impressionists painted scenes inside the home. It was not acceptable for women to paint outdoors like the men.

The Impressionists applied paint in short strokes of color, which was often mixed on the canvas. The viewer's eye blended the short strokes of color together. The painted color captured the effects of light on the subject and often suggested movement.

The camera and black-and-white photography had a profound effect on the Impressionists. Monet played with slow shutter speeds to blur moving figures. Show examples of Impressionist paintings to the class.

CREATIVE PROCESS Returning to the art-making, students begin sketching their plan lightly in pencil on the pre-prepared watercolor paper. They then can experiment with different techniques using oil pastels and/or Prismacolors[R]. After experimentation, the students begin to develop their entire composition.

My students were encouraged to use flowers, especially where they were found in the composition. They could add their flower sketches in the empty areas. During the creative process, I had students walk around the class to observe the work in progress. I also had the students hang their work up and step back to evaluate the impact of the piece. When the work was complete it was prominently displayed.








Sandi Pippin teaches art at Truitt Middle School in Houston, Texas.
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Author:Pippin, Sandi
Publication:Arts & Activities
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2003
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