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Re: Painting unit in high school


From: Maggie White (mwhiteaz_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue May 14 2002 - 09:43:39 PDT

"Noel B. Howard" wrote:
> I am putting together a painting with acrylics unit for high school
> students. I'd like to get your input on what to include and the steps
> to take. Thanks.


My students spend a solid week of 85 minute classes just mixing paint.
We use the warm/cool palette of primaries as advocated in the book Blue
and Yellow Don't Make Green. All that mixing gives them tremendous
confidence to mix any color they need. Surprisingly, they don't rebel
after two days of mixing; I think they're actually intrigued by all the
possibilities. They put their mixed swatches on heavy all-media paper
cut to fit their sketchbooks; they label each swatch with the colors
they used so they can refer back to them later.

The first day they become acquainted with the properties of acrylics and
how they can be used opaquely, transparently, and impasto-ly :) They
mix different combinations of warm and cool primaries to see the
differences between them. Then they create a chromatic scale of a
secondary color. One day they will mix 20 different greens using just
the blues and yellows and white, then 20 greens using green paint; green
is the only secondary I buy as we use a lot of it when landscape
painting. Another day they will learn about tints and create a value
scale of one color, and mix tints of various colors. Another day they
learn about mixing complementary colors and creating various interesting
grays. Ken Schwab has some really interesting lessons along these
lines; mine are much more prosaic.

I teach them hard-edge and scumbling techniques, and they do at least
one hard-edged optical illusion painting and one landscape. These two
assignments cover a lot of elements, principles, and techniques. I
copped Carolyn Roberts' Boxes and Worms in Space idea (sorry, Carolyn, I
can't remember the "real" name of it) for a hard-edged assignment.

Lots of people on the list have problems with students not taking care
of the brushes. If you can give them ownership of the same brush(es)
for the whole painting unit, they will take much better care of them
knowing they will be using the same one the next day.