Rothko and Color

This art lesson is dedicated to Mark Rothko and warm & cold colors.

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Mark Rothko was an Abstract Expressionist painter. He was looking for ways to capture emotions in the purest forms. From people and mythological stories to organic shapes and then finally: only color.

You can follow links below to download presentations to use with your kids (and your students), showing the different paintings he made before he decided to embrace total abstraction.

Ask the kids what are the cold and warm colors? What emotions tie in with them? Hoe do these colors make them feel?

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Then you can create a project inspired by Mark Rothko.

You can make your own canvas and paint it with watercolors or capture your emotions with color and basic symbols with oil pastels.

K to 2 presentation (make your own canvas): http://1drv.ms/1g3DteD

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This is a really fun project that needs some prep time. You can either cut small pieces of cardboard and the sheets and bring those to the class (one per child) or you can make bigger ones and let them work in groups (easier prep, just make sure you help them stretch the fabric over the cardboard and use a little bit of the glue underneath it). Just cut a piece of cardboard, a piece of sheet and let the kids glue it on. Then use liquid watercolors (and ADD WATER to them – at least 50/50) and paint them with wither warm or cold colors. Why do you need to add water? The canvas is not primed and it will ‘drink’ a lot of the water. You can use paint as well (or instead of the watercolors).

If you want to make the small canvases, you will need approx. 1 large box and 1 crib sheet for 25 kids. I would also recommend to bring several large ‘canvases’ for kids to work on together once they are finished, or watercolor paper so that they can create more artworks (and try both warm and cold colors).

 

3 to 5 presentation (capture your emotions): http://1drv.ms/1efFYMt

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This project is also very easy and there is no prep time needed. Just follow the presentation and ask the kids about emotions they want to capture. Discuss how they can do that (happiness: bouncing ball, sunshine, flowers, rainbow) and give them watercolor paper and oil pastels (in either warm or cold colors). Either divide a classroom into 2 parts (warm vs cold) or let each of them choose (doing it by tables is going to be easier.) Let the kids draw the thing that they associate with the emotion (keeping it more abstract as the grades get higher, older ones can sketch first). Then give them watercolors to paint over the pictures.

In any case, remind the kids to not mix warm and cold colors. Also, do not use much white or black. Wash brushed before changing colors with the watercolors. And most importantly: have fun!

If you would like to get more projects about Rothko and Color, you can purchase the magazine subscription and receive this issue within 24 hours! This week, it is on sale for $4.99 for 12 issues on Plum District.

You can also ask us about the school subscription with support, online art docent trainings and magazine for ALL kids at your school!

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Seurat, pointillism, boats and secondary colors

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Secondary colors and George Seurat go together more then well! That’s why I like to combine this concept and this artist whenever possible.

First, I talk to kids about mixing primary colors to get secondary ones:

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And then we talk about optical color mixing: meaning, some artists did not mix their paint on the palette but rather let the viewer (his eyes and his brain) to do the mixing. Seurat, for example, used small dots of paint close to each other to create the illusion on mixing colors. We talked about similarities of pointillism and mosaics and digital photography as well.

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Of course, we also looked at a lot of his work and since we noticed, a lot of his paintings captured the ocean and boats, that was our focus as well.

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We sketched the scene, talked about composition and colors… and then used q-tips and tempera paint to fill the whole page with tiny little overlapping dots. It took the kids a little over an hour to fill the whole page (letter size). When they did, they  were very pleasantly surprised by the results.

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Mondrian Animals in primary colors

Primary colors are the most important colors of them all – yellow, red and blue. They cannot be created by combination of any other colors. They are the most basic ones.

And what better artists to introduce to the kids when talking about primary colors than Piet Mondrian?!

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Piet Mondrian was born towards the end of the 19th century in Netherlands. During his life he worked towards a not-so-simple goal: painting only the most important truth:
the real essence of all things, as he called it. He kept simplifying his work until all that remained were horizontal and vertical lines, primary colors and black and white. The style was called: De Stijl (Dutch for ‘The Style’) and it is a great example of complete abstraction.

Like these busy streets of NYC:

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Our project, though, was a little bit less abstract. We created Mondrian animals.

We used pencil to sketch the animal, traced the outline with a sharpie and divided it into several parts with horizontal and vertical lines. Then we colored the animal with primary colors, cut it out, glued it onto a black piece of paper and created a border out of colored papers. It took us about an hour and the kids were 5-10 years old.

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Calder and mobiles

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Today my Little Artists and I talked about colors in motion. We talked about the mobiles they had above their cribs… and that Alexander Calder was the first person who made them, almost a hundred years ago. Why? He loved sculpture but thought that it missed something–movement. So, he tried to find a way to make his sculptures move.

Then we discussed the most important thing when making a mobile: balance.

What is a balance? It’s the way of spreading your weight equally so that you do not fall.

Why is important? If the sculpture was not balanced right, it would drop to one side and would not move much. It needs to be just right so that it moved in the air.

We also balanced ourselves – on our feet, on masking tape on the floor and on bumpy dots.

After that it was time to make a balancing sculpture. We drew pictures on our colorful circles and then folded them in in half. I helped them attach the pipe cleaners inside, made a hole on the top and attached a string. The kids tried to balance it on their finger and then went on to add the fun part: play dough.  They worked hard to balance their sculptures so that they did not lean too much to one side. Surprisingly easy for everybody (even the 3-year-olds). It was wonderful!

Seurat’s secondary boats

This morning the preschoolers explored mixing of the colors. We learned that red and yellow make orange, blue and yellow make green and red and blue make purple. We read “Mouse Paint” and discussed all the primary and secondary colors. Easy.

Then we conducted a super cool (and super secret) experiment with magic wands and protein molecules.

As for our painting today, we explored pointillism and used only primary colors. We created a color wheel and added our own sailboat with secondary-color sails.

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Kids had a blast and did not want o leave the classroom today. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right?!

Matisse, fish and preschoolers

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Yesterday was my first Little Artists class with a group of 3-5 year-olds. We talked about color and Henri Matisse. We looked how different artists used colors, talked about our favorite ones, played color scavenger hunt, read books… and created a fish.

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Each child started by drawing a fish on a colored paper. Then they cut out whatever shapes they wanted out of as many colored papers as they wanted to… and glued them onto the fish. Once they were done, they added the eye and cut it out. What do you think?

There are more ideas for Matisse, color and fish on our Pinterest board.