Tuesday, April 1, 2014

5th Grade Van Gogh Irises

It's the first day of April, and as I sit in my classroom listening to the students yell "April Fools" in the hallway two thoughts come to mind: 

1.  Surprisingly enough it's April and there is a chance of snow later this week.
2. There are only two months left of school! Woo Hoo! (Every teacher loves summer)

Well hopefully the same yields true for April SNOW showers bringing May flowers?
Nonetheless, cold or springtime the hallways are blooming with color.

Here is a lesson done by 5th graders.  I love teaching about artists and art history, but I try not to get carried away or we won't get to any art making.  With this in mind I try to talk about the same artists from year to year, but having our focus be on a different piece then before.  I find this helps with the sequential learning process of students retaining information about the artist and the movement they were part of from year to year.  So we talked a little bit about Vincent Van Gogh, but looked at a painting most students had never seen unlike that of Starry Night.

Our focus was on The Irises.  I showed students how to draw an Iris and required them to have 5-7 on their paper.  Then we went to painting.  For the petals I gave students pinks, blues, purples, and white.  As students painted they were to keep in mind Van Gogh's iconic brushwork.  Next students used white and yellow for the flower centers and move on to green, yellow, and white for the stems and leaves. The ground was painted with yellow, brown, white, and a little bit of gold (I love an excuse to use gold).  I had students use the paints in this order so we didn't have to rinse out brushes and maybe we'd get some of the results of Van Gogh's optical mixing.  I did let students get a new brush or clean it out for the background.  I let students choose the colors they wanted to do on the background, while keeping in mind if there flowers were all blue it wouldn't be a good idea to paint the sky blue.  As you can expect my example was done with oranges and reds so most students went down that road, but not all.

I am very pleased with the results and the students really seemed to enjoy the project.  I think the students liked to have the time to just paint and paint where they wanted.  Our last few projects required a lot of specific thinking and directions, so I think this was a nice break.

Here's to hoping for warm weather of Spring and Summer, but chances are in 3 months I'll be longing for snowy day when I'm sick of the 90 degree heat.  But as my 4th grade teacher would tell me about Nebraska, "If you don't like the weather just wait 15 minutes."

1 comment:

  1. These are beautiful! I have a question. Do you have an example of how you first taught them to draw irises?
    Thank you,
    Jen, a fellow Art Teacher