I saw the beautifully illustrated books lining the window sill of the grade three class room and knew that we needed to paint something in the jeweled colours of India. HOW WONDERFUL! One illustration, in particular, struck me and so, with this as my inspiration, we began our journey from the soft sculpted forms of the outdoor Taj Mahal, to the highly decorated interior.
This activity was designed for two distinct art experiences. I didn’t wish the paint to cross over into the delicate pencil crayon drawings. We spoke about different shapes that make up architecture and I projected an image of the Taj Mahal on the Smart board. I turned on the Bollywood music and the drawings began. Of course, the question soon surfaced about how you make things look “NOT FLAT”. Turning off the music, I gave a basic lesson in how to show light and shadow, to be followed, once colouring, with how colouring practices the same muscles as hand writing does.
“My muscles for handwriting don’t work very well.”
“Well, colouring your Taj Mahal will be like hand writing practice then.”
Reflection and Depiction are so often abandoned for the sake of plowing on through that ‘make an art project’ mindset.
I demonstrated adequate pressure (back and forth, back and forth in small amounts, rather than long airy strokes…not hard…but not soft, either) for the students as they began to colour with their pencil crayons. And this is when we explored weather, atmosphere…beautiful light. The students, at this point, told me all about monsoon season. I always act like I know absolutely nothing about these topics and I become learner and they are the teachers.
“How do I do a white Taj Mahal if I don’t have a white pencil crayon?”
This is where we looked at twenty or so photographs on line…different times of day and different weather changed the colour of the Taj Mahal…so basically, any colour families would do once you, the artist, decided what kind of day it was. I showed the students how they could use yellow to show the light on a purple dome…or how they could use green on a blue dome. The colouring began!
The palette I set up was a mixture of ‘spice’ colours…cumin, cinnamon. We talked about the spices that get mixed up…we talked about curry and yellow food. I gave half of the class purple paper and half brown. The students with purple paper worked with the six buckets of warm colours first for background. The students with brown paper traveled back and forth from the cool palette for their background. After lunch and drying time, they would switch palettes for their interior patterns. There were 22 students in this class, so 11 pods of 2 students. I explain how to do all of this in previous painting lessons.
Backgrounds before lunch…patterns after lunch. We were sooo busy that I didn’t grab photos for these two steps, but only photographed the end results, after gluing the Taj Mahals into the windows. Let your paintings dry before the gluing! We did Math families and agendas before that step!
The artist who created the following painting was so intent on her Taj Mahal colouring that she is not quite finished, but she can do that on her large piece…amazing work! These are beautiful, unpredictable and richly coloured. I totally enjoyed the openness of the students, their excitement, commitment and knowledge. We can’t all travel to far off place, but we can explore them through books, learning, art and we can open our souls to their colours, textures, sights, smells and sounds. I am grateful for their teacher.