Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

4th Grade Paul Klee Heads

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in at 5:19 PM


I've taught variations of this lesson before, but this variation is my favorite.  In the past I've had the kids use tempera paints and create tints and shades to fill in their drawings, but I was finding that the opacity of the tempera was causing them to cover over or accidentally fill in all the great details they had originally drawn in.  Thinking on that, this year I decided to scrap the focus on tints and shades and focus on warm and cool color families using watercolors.  I got a little of the value in with the watercolors, reviewing with them how adding water to the watercolor paints lightens the value and would be the equivalent of adding a white to a tempera paint.

These were the original projects:
 These are this years projects:

They have A LOT more personality than their predecessors, lol! The kids really got into this project.  They liked the fact that the head didn't have to look realistic but was simply comprised of implied shapes.

For the project each table got a water bucket, small brushes, white oil pastels and 2 sets of regular watercolor paints and 2 sets of Crayola "mixing color" sets (thank you Cassie Stephens).  The mixing set has 2 yellows, a cyan, blue-violet, and a white, the white is pretty useless but the kids loved the blue-violet and cyan colors. The oil pastels were used to replicate the texture found in Klee's painting.

Overall, the lesson took 4, 40 minute periods.  I HIGHLY suggest investing in some inexpensive hand towels to use when painting instead of paper towels.  If your school is anything like mine, the paper towels are really flimsy and don't absorb anything..I bought the rags seen in the pictures below from amazon. They came in a set of 24 for about 25 bucks. Or you could always send out an email and get some donated.  I don't recommend cutting larger towels down because the loose unbound edges won't hold up.
 The first we examined the work and discussed its features.  I then demonstrated how to use a ruler and gave out a bunch of various sized lids for them to trace circles and draw straight lines.  They used black Sharpie first, so if they made a mistake, we discussed ways to make it become part of the art.  On a side note, one of my favorite things of all time that kids say to me is, "ya know Ms. C.  I had made a mistake but then I fixed it and it turned into something that I really like about my work."  I feel like if I've given them the confidence and opportunity to make mistakes and then "fix them" that I've taught them an important life lesson. I mean, let's face it, life is about what we do with the mistakes and wrong turns we make!

Day 2 was devoted to learning and then painting warm and cool colors. I had a smartboard slide with a diagram showing both color families for the kids to use as reference.
Day  3 reviewed and discussed a Powerpoint on Klee's life and work and then the kids continued painting adding the white oil pastel.

 Day 4 we finished painting.  For their background they had the option of using the same color family, using both, or using the opposite one.  I think the next time I teach this lesson I'll have the students just continue with the same color family. I discussed with them that they didn't want the background to be so busy it competed with their heads, but I think impulsiveness won out. Keeping it all the same may help keep the face the focal point.  Maybe I'll even have them cut the heads out and mount on a solid piece of contrasting paper like I did with the first lesson examples.