Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky’s paintings use color to show emotions rather than painting an object to look real. This concept is particularly intriguing to young children as they generally strive to make all their drawings look as real as possible.
Introducing young children to Kandinsky’s abstract artwork encourages them to see that art is created many ways. Here I have two kindergarten projects that play with a Kandinsky style with sulphite paper or tempera paint.
OPTION ONE: KANDINSKY ABSTRACT ARTWORK WITH SULPHITE PAPER
Pairing colorful paper circles together gives the kids a chance to see which colors look best together. To introduce this concept of emotion and color, I read the children the book, The Rainbow Book by Kate Ohhrt. It’s a perfect art room-read as it is short, colorful and provides one perfect sentence per color and emotion.
“When I feel GREEN, I am fresh and alert”
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
To start this project, use a cafeteria tray to collect supplies for each table. I line up the 5 trays and place a small bin of colored paper squares, a bowl of kid-scissors, small cup filled with pencils, various sized circle container covers and a small container of white school glue mixed with a bit of water. I like using brushes and glue when there is a lot of gluing going on as it feels easier for the kids.
THIS IS WHAT WE DID:
To prep the black sulphite paper (12″ x 15″) for the circles, children fold paper in half and in half again to create 4 sections. Then, they pick their 4 favorite colors and trace the biggest circle template onto each color and cut out. This is a challenge for many of my four and five year olds but resist the urge to cut out the shapes for them. Its great practice.
Glue the four circles to each section on the black background.
Once the kids have their first circles glued down, have them select another color. In my demonstration, I show them how to use the color wheel to select the opposite or complementary color. They place their finger on the color they have glued onto their paper and walk their fingers across the wheel to the other side. Whatever color is there they chose a paper color that is similar. A few kids really got this and selected their colors carefully, but many grabbed whatever color was closest to them in the tray.
Adding layers of circles is a concept that can be confusing to some kids. They get that they have to cut out lots of circles but some feel its best to glue all the circles on top of one another. This doesn’t happen often, but be prepared for it.
As a final embellishment (mostly for the kids who finished early) , I allowed them to use oil pastels and strips of paper to decorate the outside of their papers.
OPTION TWO: KANDINSKY PROJECT WITH TEMPERA PAINT
I’ve also recreated this Kandinsky project using tempera paint. Judging by the intensity of my kinder class faces, I gathered they enjoyed this art lesson a great deal. The goal is to teach the children color-wheel basics. Begin with three colors of paint (red, yellow and blue) and see what happens. It’s really not about blending the paint perfectly, it’s really just about blending to see what happens.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
12″ x 15″ white paper
Yellow, red, blue tempera paint in a 6-paint palette (I use Tru-Ray)
THIS IS WHAT I DID:
I thought a great deal about how to teach this blending lessons and I tried a few different strategies. The best way to start, it seems, is to have the children fold their paper in half lengthwise to make a crease. Unfold then fold again in the other direction, then again.
The goal is to create 8 squares. Now, this part is optional, but if you want, have the children dip their paintbrush in the yellow paint and paint along the crease lines. This defines the eight squares a bit better.
Now the painting begins. Have the children dip their paint brush in the yellow and in one square, paint a small dot. In another square, paint a ring or a large circle. In another square, paint a circle so big it touches the edges of the square.
Then proceed with red paint. Clean brushes first. Paint a dot in one square (it could be a square with the yellow circle). Paint a large circle then paint an even larger circle in another square. Encourage the kids to use the same squares as in the previous step. This way, the paints will touch and therefore blend.
You can see where this is going. Next comes blue and you do the same thing all over again.
Inevitably, a few kids will begin mixing colors, or use a color different from the rest of the class…no biggie. Let them explore the paint in whatever order they like.
I know some classroom teachers do not like this as it demonstrates all too clearly that the students can’t listen and follow directions, but for me…well, I just don’t think it matters. They’re in an art zone and will think differently.
The timing of this lesson is tough to predict. I teach 5 kinder classes. Two classes finished in one 35-minute session and the other three did not. My recommendation is not to rush it.
This should take 2 classes @ 35 minutes. The first class for the primary colors then the second class for secondary colors (created by mixing, not poured from a bottle).
Third and Fourth Grade Efforts…
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