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paint mixing with acrylics

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From: Pam Wellington (loveart_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Nov 17 2004 - 05:17:55 PST


I teach high school painting. In my first level painting class for color
mixing, I first have them do a mixing chart of value scales, 10 steps adding
white and black from light to dark with each primary and secondary color.
Then they do 3 value scales using complementary color sets: red and green,
blue and orange, and yellow and purple. They start with pure red at the
top, slowly add green, with the 5th step a neutral, then slowly add red into
green with pure green at the bottom 10th step. After the value chart, I lay
out cut small strips from color copies of Impressionist paintings. I try to
include a horizon line on most strips. They choose one they like, glue down
the strip onto a canvas using acrylic gloss medium. Then the job is to
exactly match the hue, value and intensity of each color on the strip and
apply it right next to the strip, (don't paint over the strip!) then extend
the composition out to the edges, using the same brush stroke technique as
on their strip. I first saw this lesson years ago in a School Arts magazine.
  I have expanded on it and always use it in my beginning painting class
because it not only teaches them how to mix color, but it produces beautiful
original paintings. It is amazing how fast they learn this way. After one
painting, they can mix any color they want to mix at will. Be forewarned,
this one is frustrating at first, and difficult, and if you are not really
good at color mixing yourself, don't try it. I have to rotate around the
room assisting students in how to make certain values and intensities for
the first couple of classes. You don't want to be struggling in front of
your students! :) Also, encourage your students to keep the composition
simple. I instruct them to do an underpainting by selecting a predominant
color from the strip, like a warm yellow or cool green, and cover the white
canvas with a wash of that color, to "kill the white".
They will often turn a piece of a Monet into something entirely abstract. I
get gorgeous landscapes out of this assignment as well. Discourage adding a
lot of "stuff" to the painting, like buildings, rivers, etc. I tell them if
a simple sky ground relationship was good enough for VanGogh, it's good
enough for them. Complementary mixes are the most important thing for them
to understand when trying to make darker and less intense colors.
The size is usually 16" x 20".
Good luck!
Pam Wellington
Art Department Chair
Boiling Springs High School
Boiling Springs, PA

Subject: Question on Teaching Color Mixing
From: "Madeline Fersko" <maddy74@hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2004 23:58:44 -0500
X-Message-Number: 18

One thing I've always found to be both complicated and challenging is mixing
paint colors in oil or acrylic painting. As a professional artist as well as
educator the ability to properly mix paints to create desired tones and
colors is highly important.

Im curious if anyone has any ideas or lessons they may have used before
offering insight into how to teach high school or middle school level
students about color mixing and color recipes etc for painting?

Thanks,
Madeline

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