Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Color Theory Review & Painted Paper


I used to hate teaching color theory; I really did.

I'm one of those random freaks of nature whom inherently understand color. The fact that orange and blue degrade one another when mixed makes perfect sense to me. I can't explain it, but when I'm mixing colors, I know which exact hue of green and in what amount will yield my desired result. I can color match like nobody else. And, incidentally, I'm my friends' and family's go-to-gal when it comes to picking the exact shade of wall color.

But, I digress.

Being such an (idiot) savant comes with a caveat: Since I never had to learn color theory; I don't have any personal history on which to build when it comes to teaching color theory.

I'm all like "Students! RED and GREEN are sorta opposites! Memorize this! Quickly! Y U NO GET THIS?"


Also, most kids make a color wheel (of some sort) in Art every year. In my experience, none of that information is sticking to them. So, uh, clearly, this method isn't working. And, making colors wheels is boring. Instead of teaching color theory as an isolated unit, I try to incorporate it into something larger, and preferably, something to which my students can build a personal relationship. Kids make better Art (damn, actually all humans) when they have a personal connection to the topic.


I want to make more collages in Art this year, but my budget is tight and all I can afford are those cheap, multi-color, fading construction paper sets. These sets typically have one version of every color. Not only is that limiting in and of itself, but there is only one brown. My students come in all sorts of colors, and they want to have a color that is at least close to their skin color when working on collage portraits. Back when I used to teach elementary school, I did a lot of Eric Carle inspired projects. Every year, I'd have students use bright finger paint to make painted paper, which we would later use on our projects. I had the opportunity to take in a lecture from Olivia Gude last week (ah-mazing) and she showed some exemplars of high school work using painted paper.

I was all "duh! Amy!! paint some paper for your collages!"

So, on the second day of school we did. Which, um, is kind of insane considering my smallest class has 39 students and my largest class has 44. Yes, that is correct. I had 44 middle school students painting. Truthfully? It was pretty awesome.

43 kids are in this class

This also served as my general review of color theory. Here is how it all went down:
1. reviewed color theory and incorporated Common Core vocabulary (see what I did there?)
2. each table was assigned 1 color (red, orange, yellow, blue, green, purple, brown, grey), we talked about how messy is fun (personal connection)
3. each table was given 1 laminated paper with pixelated versions of their color to help them identify different hues
4. I put out 1 huge tray of each table's assigned paint color
5. students used paint palettes to acquire other colors they wanted/needed to make various hues and values
6. I made "texture makers" out of small pieces of heavy cardboard for students to drag through wet paint
7. students painted
8. drying rack
9. rinse and repeat


OMGosh you guys, I have so many gorgeous, beautiful, incredible pieces of paper for my kids to use for collage!


1 comment:

  1. It looks like you've really made teaching color theory more interesting for your students and given them a background to hopefully understand color as well as you do! We're always interested in the way color theory is being taught in classrooms. We recently had a teach share with us her color theory bingo game. We loved the idea because it takes something we already find fun and makes it fun for children. It looks like your students may be too old for this game, but it looks like you're doing a fine job of making color theory fun!