Using leftover paints quickly involves dumping complementary colours together and mixing them to get a variety of earth tones and browns. This way, the art teacher can get a lunch time jump start on cleaning buckets out before the weekend.
The artist, Paul Klee, has an amazing history. I am absolutely entertained by his work and have read extensively about him. His journals, found in The Diaries of Paul Klee: 1898 – 1918 is fascinating and captures the huge link between his passion for music and for art.
His journals are filled with diagrams and notations, but most interesting to me are his observations of nature, weather, time and the city. He was a master of observation and yet his schematics are other-worldly and child like.
An interesting phenomena happens with children in school art programs or structured after-school art classes. Basically, they have a desire to draw LIKE GROWN UPS…make everything LOOK REAL. So, this activity turned out to be much more difficult than my readers might imagine. I needed to give the children permission over and over again to be playful and to invent and to doodle and let go of their wish to make things ‘look real’.
At snack time, the students have been listening to a settling CD…the story of Harry Potter. In today’s pre-recess listening session, images of shooting stars pouring out of the sky, owls filling the skies, skinny people, characters wrapped in cloaks all came up. I hoped that later on, the images would spark some design and pattern ideas.
Just a half hour before lunch, I had the students divide their square formats into four triangles, using chalk for their drawing. As a way of simulating Paul Klee’s work, this would pick up on the geometric division of space that is often seen in the artist’s works.
We looked at a piece by Paul Klee titled Plants, Earth and Empire 1918 that was similarly divided into four triangles. I haven’t been able to find an image of this piece on line, however the piece below has similar elements to this one (House Interior 1918), but with a single line later being the division between an ‘above ground’ world and a ‘below ground’ world, organized above and below a diagonal organic line..
The students shared the paint palette (station), selecting four different earth tones for their compositions. I’ve explained how to set up for painting in this lesson. The pre-lunch painting gave the lunch break for the tempera paintings to dry.
After lunch, I gave the students a brief introduction to Paul Klee, the artist, along with the following video projection.
Here’s a better one…if you have the time! In fact, this is beautiful and you may want to sit with your coffee, readers, and just enjoy.
I turned on the funk music and had the students practice depicting their imagined world, after looking at this video of Paul Klee’s works. I had the students fold over their drawing paper in order to use a square format, the same as their composition. I spoke to them about creating a line that moved from one side of the square to the other. This would create a division between an imaginary world above the ground and under the ground. I suggested that if it was hard ‘to start’, they could begin with the list of Harry Potter images we had left on the white board.
When the students felt ready, they could begin working on their larger compositions. I suggested that they draw first with pencil and then retrace their pencil lines with permanent black marker. I felt that there was some preciousness or concern in the students and thought this might give them more confidence. In future, I’d hand them over the permanent markers and skip the pencil step. To create accents, I suggested that the students use oil pastel to colour in three or five or seven or nine or eleven shapes. Here is a little of what they came up with while the funk music played in the background.