If you had previously studied the structure of the poppy during November and did some careful observations of the petals, stems and leaves of that flower, then, drawing and painting Poinsettias is a natural follow-up.
When I visited Tammy’s grade three class, I decided to have the students do a drawing from their memory/experience, so I could determine where I wanted to direct the lesson. We only contain so much information in our visual memories and so whether you are a child or an artist, sometimes the details of the visual stories are vague. So, I asked the children to draw a Poinsettia.
“What is a Poinsettia?”
“A Poinsettia is a Christmas flower…bright red…we can buy them in pots at Home Depot or at the grocery store to decorate our homes and the church.”
They set to work and created very symbolic pieces that indeed, represented the flower we would be analyzing.
Next, I pulled out a Poinsettia plant that I had borrowed from the office and did a demonstration of the structure of the center and the petal/leaf arrangement on the Poinsetta plant. I talked about the unique nature of a plant…similar to each human person being unique from one another.
There is no set rule as to how many petals radiate out from the center in a first row. Similarly, it doesn’t matter how many show in the row directly behind this first row. In grade three terms, I tried to identify the differences between informal and formal (symmetry) balance.
“In your sketchbooks, no crossing out…begin again rather than using an eraser…draw dark on top of light to make changes. Practice several times.”
If you feel uncomfortable about doing a drawing as an exemplar on the board, I’ve selected this Youtube video as a pretty good example of what I am going for in terms of representation and structure.
The second drawings looked something like this and were completed by the same students as above. (I just randomly pulled a couple of visual journals out of their desks at the end of the activity.
Moving into Composition, I handed out 18 x 24 construction paper in a complementary colour. I chose purple for our journey of Advent. As I always do, I also handed out a piece of white chalk to each student for the sake of working out their composition.
“To make your art work dynamic and exciting, boys and girls, place your center OFF CENTER. You may also wish to have a vertical format or horizontal format. The choice is up to you. Look! When you draw with chalk, you can fade out lines that you don’t like. It doesn’t matter. You will be painting over the lines that you want to keep.”
I then proceeded to demonstrate how to use the paint center and how to share the paint with a partner. I showed them how to use a place mat and slide it along the edges and how to care for their brushes by stroking the paint, rather than scrubbing the paint. Some where along the line, I had the painters stop (brushes in your buckets) in order to show them that the flat brushes could make wide marks and thin marks. For some reason, they broke out into wild applause when I turned my brush sideways and painted a long thin line. That actually surprised me.
For the sake of expediency, I had the children limit themselves to one outline colour from the warm palette for their Poinsettia petals and one from the green palette for their leaves. If the students are accustomed to using a paint center, they can travel back and forth, trading colours frequently. Here are the works, outlined and ready for fill ins.
The children’s individual styles surface quickly and I like that! A lot.
They had a wee break for a music class and returned a half hour later, ready for the quick and immediate activity of filling in the rest of their background spaces. I really enjoyed working with these guys and I appreciated the fantastic support of young student teacher, Shelby. Thanks so much for your help!
And, thank you, Tammy, for your class!