I just pulled this one together quickly for grade fours yesterday afternoon. I know that there is a plethora of autumn leaf activities out there during these months, and judging by the wind and cold weather in Calgary, those leaves are not going to be around for much longer!
I decided to add some colour to the otherwise, grey weather to come on the weekend, and show the students how to contour…create the hills and valleys that are in every subject we attempt to render in art. The basic concept is that the top of a fold of fabric reflects the greatest amount of light, so it needs to be coloured with the lightest hues. The valleys of the fold, hidden from the light, would sit in the darkest range of the same hue. Similarly, when rendering a face, the creases would be the darkest and the bridge of the nose and the forehead would be the lightest…and so on it goes.
I gave the students some of these examples and then went about talking about the structure of the leaf (new words included the word ‘serrated’ edge) and that vein to vein, we see the same sort of lighting if we really look. While our contouring would be an exaggeration of this, using white oil pastel for the lightest highlights…the students would see that their leaves would have more dimension than usual if they followed the light to dark formula. I like how unique each of these leaves became through the difference in student mark making and based on the variety of original depictions.
First, my consistent approach…give the students chalk to draw with on construction paper, in this case, half a sheet of pink or yellow or orange or red. This provides a variety of grounds and tooth as a receptor to the oil pastels.
Describe the veins as organic. Rulers, erasers and pencils, not required. Each and every vein is different.
Once the chalk depiction is there before them, review that the veins of the leaf, if in valleys, would be darkest. Two palette choices were outlined on the board.
#1 White Yellow Orange, Red, Violet
#2 White Yellow Light Green Dark Green, Blue
By providing these choices, the students do not have to do too much investigation in those huge boxes of oil pastels.
Some students will need some guidance one-on-one once the activity part of this class begins. Sit with them and walk them through it. Do one of your own in front of them, encouraging them to apply the oil pastels with a side to side motion rather than a long up and down motion.