One of the challenges of teaching students to improve their art skills is teaching them TO SEE! This painting project does a nice job of teaching them to really see all of the color changes in a subject matter.
In this project, I ask them to find a magazine photo to use as a resource (we try to stay away from this type of resource as much as possible…but for this project it is very helpful.) They take a pen and outline every color change that they see.
If it is a gradual change, they have to make choices about where the breakdown of color will be. Each shape becomes a flat space that is a separate color. We work with a square resource so that when they are done outlining all of the color changes, they can draw a middle horizontal and vertical line to create quadrants.
On their paper, (18” x 18”) they create those quadrants again lightly in pencil. This becomes a good guide to trying to draw as accurately as possible. As they enlarge, they use the quadrants as a guide.
After the general shapes of the subject are on their paper, they add all of those “color breakdown” shapes. They pay careful attention to catching all of the colors (although I do let them simplify things a little bit if an area is really complicated.)
Some years we have used acrylic paint with this project, but sometimes we use tempera paint (like this year.) Either works find for this project. I don’t worry too much if their finished paintings look exactly like the resource photo as long as they’ve done a good job seeing and portraying all of the color changes.
Once they get this painting under their belt, they have a better understanding of all of the colors they need to be paying attention to in a subject matter. In their next painting they can blend colors and make things look three dimensional in a more natural way. It makes an excellent exercise and students are generally surprised at how well they turn out - especially those students who vehemently tell me that they “can’t paint!” :-)