SchoolArts Magazine

DEC 2014

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Page 33 of 54 29 This project is the first painting done by my beginning art class, and it's how they learn that they can use hue, value, and intensity to create any color they want. Because there is no blending, it's a great way for students to learn introductory painting skills and take home a project that they're really proud of. But the real value of the project is that students respond to—and create art about—the expres- sive potential of color. Creating a Composition Students begin the project by work- ing with other students to photograph self-portraits, but they are not allowed to take straight-on, yearbook-style pictures. Instead, the composition and point of view of this photograph is considered an important creative com- ponent of the project. Once they are satisfied with their portraits, students use Adobe Photo- shop to posterize the picture, simpli- fying gradient values into flat shapes. I suggest that students use no more than four or five levels of posteriza- tion. A grid helps them transfer the shapes from the printed picture onto a large sheet of watercolor paper. Many students need to be reassured at this point that, although their line drawing may look a little weird, it will look great once it's painted. Understanding Color We spend several days studying how color can be used expressively. Stu - dents visit websites such as Color in Motion (see Web link) to learn about the emotional and cultural associa - tions we attach to colors. After they are familiar with basic color schemes such as monochromatic, split com - plementary, and triads, they choose a couple of colors that represent their personal - ity. Then they go to a color design site such as Adobe Kuler ( or to design a scheme around their chosen colors. Choosing a Color Scheme I give students a great deal of free - dom to choose a color scheme that pleases them; I want the colors to be an honest expression of their indi - viduality. However, it's important for the final color scheme to have a full range of values in order for it to work. Also, the number of colors in the color scheme must match the num - ber of posterization levels used. Using their newly acquired color theory skills, students mix paints that match their chosen scheme. Using these colors, students create a value scale that has a full range of values, from almost white to almost black. Now it's just a matter of paint - ing the right color from students' value scales into the corresponding value shapes on their drawings, using their photographs as guides. These paintings have a powerful impact on anyone who sees them. They're large, photographic, and composi - tionally interest- ing. But the first comment that most viewers make is, "Wow, I love those colors!" Students learn that they can com - municate something essential about themselves through thoughtfully chosen colors. Carol Horst is an art teacher at Tehachapi High School in Tehachapi, California. N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context. W E B L I N K The real value of this project is that students respond to— and create art about—the expressive potential of color. Elias Ramirez. Amy Gusbeth.

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