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Revolving on the color wheel.

One of my favorite assignments is the still-life. Many of my sixth grade students have never seen a still-life before, and even for those who have, the strange and colorful collection of objects and fabrics set Up in one corner of the room is a sight to behold. I like still-lifes because my students get excited about the challenge of drawing objects from life, and the results are always fresh and exciting.

This still-life is chock full of interesting things of different sizes and shapes. There is a guitar, a dart board, a parasol, a papier-mache snake, a wheel, candlesticks, a teddy bear, a piece of lattice, a mask, flowers, and a flag to name a few. Different fabrics, filled with stripes, polka dots, and zigzags are draped everywhere.

Unique Perspectives

As each student sits with pencil, eraser, 12 x 18" (31 x 46 cm) white drawing paper, and a viewfinder in hand, I present the lesson. I precut a viewfinder out of paper for each student. I tell them they can't possibly draw all the objects and they collectively give a sigh of relief. They are to hold the viewfinder away from their face and move it around until they find the view they like. Objects can be left out, enlarged or drawn smaller. The fun part, for me, is to see how each student presents their unique viewpoint. In one drawing the dart board may be huge and fill the page, or in another the dart board may be small.

Beginning the Composition

I encourage my students to work large, choosing three to five objects. There is always one student who tries to draw everything! It's best to fill the page in an interesting and varied way. Any remaining space should be filled with patterns they see in the fabrics. Have them use a ruler for straight edges and a compass for large circles (some of the kids forget). For polka dots pull a quarter from your pocket and trace it.

Once the composition is balanced and the drawing is complete each student signs out a black fine or medium point marker from the teacher's desk. They are instructed to outline everything. At this point the kids are excited to see their progress.

Using a Color Wheel

Next, I explain how we plan to color our still-life using the color wheel as our inspiration. I didn't want their details to be lost in painterly paint. I decided that the medium should be markers, limited to seven colors. Each student would use yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, green and, for variety, black. All objects of the still-life should be colored in using the order of the color wheel. When they get to the last color in the order, which is green, then they start yellow again and continue. Black may be used as a contrast color wherever they wish, preferably juxtaposed to white for dynamic results.

I encourage students to start a new color wheel even within one object. For example, in a dart board the color wheel can go in several directions therefore using complementary colors in this lesson.

The students became mesmerized by the process. They loved coloring and the results were happy and uplifting designs to be proud of.

NATIONAL STANDARD

Students select and use the qualities and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.

Linda A. Smyth is an art teacher at Estee Middle School in Gloversville, New York.
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Title Annotation:still life inspired by color wheel
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 1, 1997
Words:576
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