Middle school art is all about experimenting with different media, developing a personal style, and finding your own expressive voice. A big part of developing your own style and honing in on your individuality is being aware and exposed to our history…those who have come before us.
For this lesson, I told 6th graders that they would be painting a still-life. Specifically, a vase of flowers. They were allowed to choose any artist from any time period as their source of inspiration. 6th graders researched various artists, examined artistic styles, and printed off photographs to use as reference.
We discussed different types of flowers and what they symbolize. In general, flowers signify innocence as well as impermanence. They are a reminder of the shortness of our own existence and the fleeting nature of life’s earthly pleasures. 6th graders used charcoal sticks and the gridding system to transfer the vase and flowers onto their canvases. Afterwards, I demonstrated an underpainting technique as 6th graders painted a translucent wash of watercolors on top of their drawings.
When the color was was complete, 6th graders practiced mixing tints, tones, and shades in their sketchbooks. 6th graders labeled the highlights, shadows, and midtones in their reference photos and painted them into their paintings. Here are some pictures I took throughout the process!
Students finished them up by painting the borders, signing their initials, and spraying their canvases with fixative. Lastly, 6th graders wrote brief artist statements in their sketchbooks to describe the artist they referenced and techniques and colors they used. I also asked students to think creatively and write about the type of setting in which their vases of flowers would be displayed.
Here are some from the 6-4 section. Aren’t they fun?