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Warm and cool colors in silhouette.

An objective of our district's art curriculum is to reinforce or expand on the grade-level curriculum, enriching the experiences in the art room--an interdisciplinary approach. And, color theory and its application, as it pertains to the artwork of elementary school children, is an important component of any good art program. This project fills both these bills.

WE START WITH A DISCUSSION about landforms--mountains, plateaus, deserts, islands and so on. As these are mentioned, corresponding photos are projected and identified so that every child has a basic idea of all the landforms elicited from their classmates.

Next, we talk about the climates typically associated with each landform. What do cold environments look like and which colors would we see in a snowy and icy area? Blue, purple, dark green: cool colors. Which colors do we associate with tropical climate zones, closer to the equator? Yellow, orange, red, pink, and so on: warm colors.

We then view a slideshow of flora that exist in the zones so that, when we identify the color groups on a color wheel, students can clearly see and understand how the colors are positioned on it and differentiate between the warm and cool color palettes.

The question as to where black and white come into play always comes up, which provides a perfect opportunity to discuss shades and values, and how each can either lighten or darken any color or color combination.

WHEN THE TERM "SILHOUETTE" is introduced, few of my young students can provide a working definition of the word. But, when I show them enlarged photos of coins depicting U.S. presidents in profile, they get it, and relate them to the mountains in my examples. The difference is, my samples have no details, only outlines in silhouette, using only black.

The introduction ends with the sun or moon's reflection on water, and how in my samples the reflections appear to be "shimmering like Jell-O." When I ask the class where they have seen reflections, the answers vary: in puddles, in a pool, in a mirror or at the beach--all of which are fine.

TIME TO DRAW! To begin, we sketch minimal outlines on our paper, using peach-colored Craypas[R], which disappears once everything else is colored in. We section our papers into thirds to create areas for sky, mountains and water.

We then color in the reflections with warm or cool colors, depending on whether we are depicting the sun or moon. From the top of the lower section of our papers, we extend them downward to the bottom of our paper. The water is then colored in on both sides of the reflections with blue, and extending downward, as well.

We blend our reflections in a horizontal motion, using our index fingers. The kids love to see the colors blend and start to "shimmer." To them, this is magical. As they work, I encourage them to add to the foreground flora, boats, rocks, beaches, etc., using the colors they deem appropriate. The black silhouettes of the mountains are then added.

The whole process, including the discussion and demonstration, takes two class sessions. The results are beautiful, and the students come away knowing some color theory. A great learning experience is had by all in visual art, geography and science.

Art educator Robert Graff spent 35 years teaching for the N.Y. City Department of Education and the Bayshore (N. Y.) School District. Now retired, he is spending time on his own art.
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Title Annotation:INTEGRATING the curriculum
Author:Graff, Robert
Publication:Arts & Activities
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2015
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