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Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Magical Fauve Landscapes

Every year I teach my students about color theory and the color wheel. This year, we're focusing on Modern Art, so I thought a perfect color-theory tie in would be learning about the Fauves. The Fauves (or Wild Beasts) are a bunch of radical artists that created some bright and beautiful pieces of artwork that didn't quite match up with the colors of reality.


I know these landscapes are pretty basic, but read the post to find out why...

I have always loved the work of the Fauves! When I was in college, I used to take this great book called "Fauve Landscape," by Judi Freeman out of my school library. The paintings just made me happy and after I renewed the book at least three times, I decided I needed to own it! I pulled the book off the shelf for this project, and it was full of inspiration for the kiddos.

I began my lesson by having the children fill in a basic color wheel. My standard 6-color color wheel worksheet allows the children to learn about primary, secondary, complementary, warm and cool colors. There was a bit of grumbling about doing the worksheet (some of my students had done this before), but understanding the color wheel is really important for this project to be a success.

Then we looked at examples of works by the Fauves (and artists that are sometimes classified as Fauvists). We had a discussion about the paintings (the colors that were used and how they make us feel, why the artists might have chosen to use the colors they did, etc.).

Then we moved on to the main project. This project was one I saved pre-Pinterest. It is from the book "Art is Fundamental," by Eileen Prince and I always thought my students would enjoy it. In short, students create a simple landscape scene using complementary colors for the objects in the scene. Prince suggests doing the lesson as a draw-along, so that's why all of our pictures look alike. This is a great project because it only needs one piece of paper, a pencil and markers. Having the color wheel on hand really helps them get the idea of complementary colors. By the end of the lesson, they were pros!

Once they are done coloring their scene with nice, solid color, students stare at the completed image for about 30 seconds and then quickly look at the white surface. If done correctly, they will see an afterimage of the scene with the colors appearing properly. It took some of the students a couple of tries to see the afterimage, but most of them were able to see it.

This project didn't impress some of my students as much as I thought it would, but I think I'll keep it in the curriculum because it is a great lesson on color theory and some really cool artists. I also think it is a great lesson to teach children about creating art "in your own way."

The white space on the lower portion is the "white field"
the children look at to see the afterimage.

Nice, solid colors are key to this project.

This project is like a "art vocab ninja"!
The children don't even realize they are learning so much
about color, landscapes, and Modern art.


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