Grades/Level: High School (9–12)
Subjects: Visual Arts
Time Required: 3–5–Part Lesson
One to three class periods
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

Stories in Art Contents


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Lesson Overview

Students will observe a watercolor painting that depicts a view of a landmark in a dramatic setting—Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End by artist Joseph Mallord William Turner. Then they will experiment with a variety of techniques to create a dramatic setting, such as the scene depicted in Turner's historical narrative watercolor painting. Students will then create their own watercolor of an accident at a landmark using various watercolor techniques.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• observe a watercolor that depicts a historical narrative of a landmark in a dramatic setting.
• practice and use various watercolor techniques.
• create a watercolor of a landmark in a dramatic setting.

Materials

• Reproduction of Longships Lighthouse, Land's End by Joseph Mallord William Turner
• Background Information and Questions for Teaching about Longships Lighthouse, Land's End
• Student Handout: "Watercolor Techniques: Depicting a Landmark"
• Student Handout: "Common Watercolor Techniques"
• Cameras (cell phone or digital)
• Images of local landmarks
• Watercolor paper (9" x 12") (1 sheet per student)
• Translucent and opaque watercolors
• Wash brushes (1")
• Blow dryers
• Color wheel (optional for reference)
• Paper towels
• Q-tips®
• Salt
• Smaller synthetic watercolor brushes

Lesson Steps

1. Show students the reproduction of Longships Lighthouse, Land's End by Joseph Mallord William Turner.

2. Have a class discussion, prompting students with the questions from the Background Information and Questions for Teaching about Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End. Inform students that Turner depicted a story set in the ocean off the coast of England at Land's End, Cornwall, an area guarded by Longships Lighthouse. Ask students to point out the lighthouse and describe how it is used in the painting. (Nature seems to be overpowering the man-made landmark.)

3. Tell students that for their activity, they will create a watercolor of an accident that occurred at a landmark, as Turner did in his Longships Lighthouse, Land's End. Students will experiment with a variety of techniques to create a dramatic, abstract setting. Tell them they may consider painting the landmark against fog, smog, fire, or storm. Tell students they will select colors and brushwork that contribute to the feeling, point of view, and mood of the scene.

4. Either provide photos or images of important landmarks in your city, or instruct students to take a photo of a landmark in their neighborhood.

5. Pass out "Watercolor Techniques: Depicting a Landmark" and "Common Watercolor Techniques."

6. Provide students with all the supplies on the Materials list that they will need to complete the activity.

7. Guide students to follow the instructions on "Watercolor Techniques: Depicting a Landmark" to plan and then create their watercolor paintings. Tell students to refer to the handout "Common Watercolor Techniques" for tips on using techniques, such as scraping, scumbling, layering, blotting, and wet on wet, as they create their watercolor.

Longships Lighthouse/Turner
Longships Lighthouse, Land's End, Joseph Mallord William Turner, about 1834–1835

Assessment

Students will be assessed on their
• discussion of a watercolor painting that depicts a historical narrative of a landmark in a dramatic setting.
• use of various watercolor techniques in a painting.
• conception of their watercolor painting of a landmark in a dramatic setting.

Extensions

• Have students display their finished watercolors in the classroom. Then have an artwalk where students can observe all of the paintings and answer questions about their creations. Invite family members and/or other students to the event.
• Have students write a story about the incident they depicted in their watercolor.