Color Contrast Lesson

11 Oct


Begin this lesson with a  review of the color wheel, (it’s a good lesson in the beginning of the year to remind students about color relationships)– Tape up the poster and have a short discussion with kids on the rug

-Artists mix 3 primary colors to create many other colors. Color can express different feelings or moods in art.

-What is it? The color spectrum that artists use is called a color wheel. Artists use it to get information and ideas about colors and how they will relate to each other. It includes six spectral colors and six intermediate colors. These colors are always in the same order no matter which way you turn the wheel. Color is an element of art. The wheel is made up of the following colors.

-Primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) which make -secondary colors (orange, violet and green) which make – intermediate colors – red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue violet, and red violet.

-Warm and Cool colors – Docent marks ½ way on the color wheel poster with tape for easy visual reminder for the students.

Cool colors= Green, yellow-green, blue-green, blue, violet, and blue-violet. They remind us of cool things such as water, grass, or ice.

Warm colors= Red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, and yellow. They remind us of warm things such as sunshine and are opposite cool colors on the color wheel.
Look for examples in the room: flower & class rug. Can you find more?

Discuss Art – The art is found in the Level 3 Art Connections book (green), p. 66. Show pages on document reader and pass a few books around.

Introduce each piece – Pistia Kew, 1989, Idelle Weber, American, Oil on Linen 58 X 59” Covered Jar, 1522-1566, artist unknown, China, pg. 66 of the Art Connections book, level 3. If there is time I will also show the large print, Undersea Scene, 1990’s, Wyland, American

??’s for the students -Find all the cool colors. Are they placed near each other? Locate all the warm colors. Where are they placed? Which work has more warm colors? Find the colors that first catch your attention. Which colors are they? Which colors blend and which colors contrast? How does the artist use the color contrast in their work?

More artist information: Idelle Weber was born in Chicago and studied art in CA. She realistically paints everyday objects seen in the environment. Her paintings force the viewer to pay attention to areas that often go unnoticed and to perceive the world in a new and different way.

The Covered Jar was created during a time when Europeans, like Marco Polo, made the journey to China.


Today for our project we will use warm and cool colors to show Color contrast–(Lesson from Art Connections, level 3 , pg. 68). Artists use contrast in order to show differences between two things. Warm colors come forward and attract your attention first and cool colors seem to move away from you.

Tell the students they will be making an underwater scene with cool colors for the background & plants and warm colors for their sea creatures.

1. Begin by painting a COOL colored background on a piece of watercolor paper using the watercolors. Use a wash technique to apply using large broad strokes back and forth to cover the paper. Don’t get too wet..Do you remember what the cool colors are? Blue, Green and Violet Again, only cool colors and mostly blue for the water and green for the plants. If you want to make a different blue by mixing the colors do so ON A SEPARATE plastic palette, not the set itself. Violet can be used as desired. Leave this to dry. (took about 10 minutes to dry)

2. Next think of at least 5 underwater creatures you want to draw, fish, octopus, seals, jellyfish. You can also make plants but use cool colors for the plants as they are background. On a separate piece of white drawing paper using oil pastels, draw these creatures in WARM colors only. It will contrast best with the background if you fill in the color. Do you remember what warm colors are? Red, Orange, yellow and their related colors. Some students will resist and want to use “real” colors but remind them in art an object can be any color you want and we are trying warm colored creatures today. Cut the finished creatures and plants out. When your painted background is dry, paste the creatures in different places on your background with the glue stick to make a contrast picture.

Supplies needed: watercolor paper, drawing paper, watercolor sets, lg. watercolor brushes; sets of oil pastels, water cups, mixing palettes, big water pitcher filled, 18 brayers. From home: bucket for washing brushes, paper napkins for blotting, brown paper bags/newspaper to cover desks, Green Art Connections book to show art.

You can have an “art walk” with the students at the end of the project by laying down the art in the middle of the room with an aisle way between the art. As the students walk through ask for positive comments and descriptive comments. Remind students to notice when warm colors are placed next to cool colors, a contrast is created and that makes the sea creatures stand out. The kids really enjoyed making the backgrounds and they were all different combinations of cool colors. Some resisted using only warm colors for the sea creatures but were able to adjust as I reminded them they could do it just how they wanted at home but we were thinking about warm and cool colors today. They enjoyed the final result.

Color Wheel Game: If there is extra time you can play a color wheel game. Kid’s form the color wheel in a big circle in the center of the room according to an item of clothing they are wearing. They have to be in the same order as the color wheel. Or you can do this in the beginning for your color review.

Room#, Grade, Teacher: Room 13, 3rd grade, Ms. Vontver
Docent/s: Name: Jill Mount


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