Sunday, August 14, 2011

Color Theory and Balance





These projects began as a balanced, asymmetrical design using nonrepresentational geometric and organic shapes.  Once the students from Port Huron Northern High School created their original design, they transferred it to a larger piece of paper four times to create a symmetrical design.  From there the students painted each square using complementary, split complementary, analagous, and  monochromatic color schemes.  This project allowed the students to see how colors react with each other and made it easier for them to make educated color choices in the compositions that came later in the semester.

12 comments:

  1. Do you have a more in-depth lesson? I love this idea!!! I would love to teach it to my students since we have to do a color scheme lesson. I've been looking for something more "creative" and this is perfect!

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  2. I believe we started by learning about geometric and organic shapes. And then we went into a discussion about asymmetrical balance...I describe it as maintaining a balance of visual weights, like a balance in the science lab, the bigger objects have more weight, the darker colors have more weight, the more detailed objects have more weight etc. A good one day project is to put a shape on the board and then have students volunteer to add nonrepresentational shapes one at a time until the entire group feels the board is balanced. ( I ask them if any spots feel too heavy or too empty). This is a great time to talk about Variety, because the first go is probably going to look like a list of different shapes (same sizes in rows), so I go back and show how it might be more interesting to change a couple of the shapes to bigger or smaller sizes. You can bring in a discussion of Movement and how lines or patterns can direct the eye to the through the composition. If time allows I have the students work in groups of 3-4 and do the same activity with chalk pastels. We do a critique the following day on which compositions appear the most asymmetrically balanced. The next day or so the students are working on creating 2 or 3 sketches of different asymmetrical/nonrepresentional designs. I constantly reiterate that it should be INTERESTING to look at, (not boring like a wallpaper pattern) stressing variety and movement. Try to reinforce that you don't want tiny, elaborate designs as they will be transferring the drawing AND painting it. My experience is that the more complex the design, the more frustrated they became when the painting time began because they didn't have the dexterity or patience to paint so fine. We would then have one on one conferences to discuss which design was the strongest and the student would redraw/enlarge their thumbnail onto a corner of square paper. I believe we used 18 x 18 for this so the square was a 9 x 9 design. Throughout the course of the project I would introduce abstract art of different styles. At some point, I would introduce symmetrical artwork and have the students compare it against the asymmetrical. The discussion should lead to the symmetrical have a more structured/mechanical type feel to it versus the loose/organic feel of asymmetrical. Then the students learn how to transfer their first design by folding the paper over (easier if this is done prior to the first blown up design being sketched on) and using a light table or a window to complete the other three squares. After the designing is underway, I usually start a color wheel activity going where the students complete a painted wheel with primaries, secondaries, tertiaries, along with tints and shades. This is a good opportunity for me to teach hard edge painting and responsible use of tools and materials. (only the primaries and black and white paints are set out). I usually take a day to talk about color schemes once a majority of the color wheels are done. I find artwork that showcases each of the different color families and we discuss how the colors interact, what their reactions are to each of the different paintings and discuss when we might use a certain color family over another. The students were then able to choose which color families would go in each section. Some students tried to have one common color throughout the squares to try and tie it all together as one piece instead of just a color exercise. For the early finishers, I gave them a 12 x 12 paper and had them either blow up their original asymmetrical design and use their favorite color family OR they made a new design with just one color family. When it is all said and done, this could easily stretch into a 3-4 week project.

    I haven't done this project in 4-5 years so I'm counting on my memory :-P. I hope this gives you a little more to go on....If you have any other questions or need more specifics, let me know. Thank you for commenting and checking out my site.

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  3. Thank you! That should totally help, I think I can make it from there!

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  4. Hi,

    I'm an art teacher and I'd like to try this lesson in 4th grade. Obviously I'll simplify the lesson. I'm wondering if you used acrylic or tempera paint.

    Thanks.

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  5. Excellent idea. Thanks for sharing in such detail. This is a great example of how much instruction goes into just one finished product!

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  6. Hi, love the way the students worked on their project, but did they have a color wheel to help them in making their project?

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  7. It's been a long time now since I've done this, but if I were going to do it again, I would probably have them practice mixing the colors and learning the color theory by making a color wheel before starting their design. If you don't have time for that, I'd definitely have it posted in the room or give them a student copy for reference.

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  8. This is a great lesson at any level! I often get students in my senior art classes with no knowledge of colour theory or paint mixing, soI did this as a review/refresher with the whole class and they loved it. The more dexterous or experienced painters were able to add smaller details to their designs. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Thanks Jill! That means a lot!

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  10. You could use this same concept but couple it with watercolor techniques that you could have already introduced and then use that on this project with the option to interject the different techniques of watercolor. I've done something similar to this but I like the focus on asymmetrical balance and organic shapes!

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  11. Thats a great idea! Thanks for posting it!!!

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