The lesson I'm doing with my 8th grade advanced class is turning out great. We looked at many examples of paintings that used mostly the colors red, white and blue (Ex: Georgia O'Keefe's "Red, White and Blue") and talked about whether or not all of the artists intended them to be patriotic. (Some obviously are, some may or may not be). Then we practiced mixing red with white, red with black, blue with white, blue with black and made shades and tints scales with them. The students could choose any subject matter they wanted, but could paint their pictures only using the colors red, white, blue and black. They were encouraged to use a patriotic theme, but it was not required. Some students incorporated stars and stripes into their picture (a red and white striped cat), but others chose to not make any patriotic reference except for the colors. When displayed all together, these paintings will look great.
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