• discuss abstract expression-sim and nonobjective art.
• discuss color in relation
• create an original, personal, Rothko-like artwork with water-soluble
• scratch paper and pencils
• water-soluble oil pastels
• 11 x 14" ( 27. 5 x 35 cm)
• paper towels or tissues
• adhesive sawtooth
Macy, age seven.
Iwas introduced to water-soluble
oil pastels by a colleague at the
Kansas Art Education Association fall conference a few years
ago. I was skeptical at first because
“water-soluble oil” seemed to be an
oxymoron. When I heard that drawing with these was like drawing with
lipstick, I was intrigued.
Water-soluble oil pastels seemed
to be fun to play with, as I love to
experiment with “new-to-me” media.
to mind, and a
project idea was
born. The first
classes to try the
project were three
groups of home-school students I
teach, ages seven through fourteen. I
posted the color wheel and resource
material pertinent to Mark Rothko—
his color field paintings and abstract
The project began with students
making sketches of ideas and drawing
symmetrical, horizontal rectangles
on scratch paper.
human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy,
doom, and so on.”
Next, students looked at the color
wheel as I read aloud from a color
symbolism chart, to give them ideas
for expressing emotion in their art.
The second discussion was about
abstract expressionism. We started
with the question “What is the difference between nonobjective art
and abstract art?”
When I heard that drawing
We talked about
with these little gems was
and how our emo-
like drawing with lipstick,
tions are expressed
I was intrigued.
in our own art.
directed to the posted Mark Rothko
quote: “I’m not an abstractionist. I’m
not interested in the relationship of
color or form or anything else. I’m
interested only in expressing basic
After my usual “a good artwork considers the whole page” reminder, production began. The process involved
the following steps:
1. With one water-soluble oil pastel,
draw a border around the outside
edges of an 11 x 14" sheet of watercolor paper to create a “frame.”
The fact that Mark Rothko didn’t
put his paintings in actual frames
2. With the same oil pastel, color in
horizontal bands across the page to
create the negative space between
the rectangles (the color fields).