Monday, November 21, 2016

Starry Night and Types of Line

Kindergarten artists have been exploring lines in art class throughout the last several weeks. They have drawn lines, made their body into different shaped lines, and are now painting line types.

One of the first artists I have introduced to Kindergarteners this year is Vincent Van Gogh. It is exciting for students- most of whom know the names of few, if any, artists, however many know his name. Their eyes light up that they have a connection from outside school to the content.

The Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889
The Starry Night is an artwork that utilizes many of the types of lines that we are exploring in art class. Students hunt to locate lines- wavy, zigzag, straight, dotted, and spiraling lines- and examine how the artist has used them in his picture. Straight lines make excellent buildings, wavy lines create rolling hills, and the winds twists and spirals through the sky.

Kindergarten artists used Van Gogh's masterpiece as a jumping off point to explore lines. They could choose to use line however they wanted- abstractly, realistically, or to recreate The Starry Night- it was up to each artist. The expectation for the group was that the finished work should show as many types of lines as they could create, and that they should be able to point to, trace, and identify line types in their paintings.

On the first day, students used cool colors of tempera on black paper. We have also been discussing color temperature, and how all cool colors have blue in them.

Cool colors at left, warm at right.
Warm colors are easily remembered by asking students to think of things in nature that are hot- lava, fire, the sun- and those colors we used the second class.

When the artists looked at Van Gogh's painting, they noticed that he used warm colors largely in places that he wanted to show light.  Kindergarteners then used warm colors of oil pastels to create stars, moons, the sun, or to enhance their lines.

It becomes sort of a "status" claim among the 5-to-6-year-old set to be able to draw stars, so I show them several different approaches to drawing them, and remind students that even Van Gogh was not painting five-point stars. It relaxes them a bit to know that there are lots of ways to show light. In the painting above, for example (top of the work, left of center), the artist followed Van Gogh's lead to create a star with a single point of light surrounded by rings of dotted lines to suggest a "glow" and vibration.

As our unit on line comes to a close and we move into a unit on shape, we will transition with a project that teaches how to hold rulers. Students will learn how to make straight lines with a ruler, and will use the ruler to create geometric shapes.