Second graders spent time in art class observing tropical fish swimming around coral reefs, and virtually exploring the Great Barrier reef.
Students were asked to make observations about the shapes, patterns, colors, and forms that they noticed in the different fish species. On that first day, students shared the things they noticed about the commonalities and differences in different fish varieties, and made sketches combining these to make an original fish all their own.
The video footage was left running for students to observe the landscape as well. There were so many types of plants, corals, and urchins in endless forms and a rainbow of colors to inspire the habitats students created for their creatures.
Artists used several different materials for their projects, beginning with pencil sketches. The sketches were colored in with a thick waxy layer of crayon.
The crayon acts not only to add bold color, but to resist the watercolors painted over it. I make liquid watercolors from old markers, which I soak in containers of water and combine in different ways to create lots of colors. These are stored in repurposed glass jars, which I label by dipping a strip of white paper in each paint and taping it to the jar so students can see the colors.
These act just like any other watercolor when painted over wax, and they interact beautifully with salt as well.
When the watercolor is newly painted on and still damp, students sprinkle a little pinch of salt on top, and it absorbs water and color to create the little white "bubbles" in the picture above. When added to those white crayon swirls to show the water current, it makes a pretty convincing ocean!
I am easily suckered by students who ask for extra materials to create a little more enchantment in their artwork, so when kids asked for glitter, I knew just the kind, and several artists chose to add some diamond dust glitter to their fish. Because, Mrs. Elliott, ocean water is sparkly, after all!