Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Introducing Jacob Lawrence to 2nd graders

Every two weeks, I volunteer my time to teach art to second graders at my local elementary school.

Introducing Jacob Lawrence to 2nd graders by A Crafty Arab

With all the grey skies in Seattle lately, I thought today would be a great day to teach them about warm (red, orange, yellow) and cool (blue, green, purple) colors and Jacob Lawrence, an artist best known for his portrayal of African-American life.

Mr. Lawrence is one of my favorite artists, and I had the pleasure of meeting him in the mid90s at an art opening in Seattle.  And since this is Black History Month, I wanted to showcase an artist that the children might not otherwise be exposed to regularly.

I started the lesson by showing them a photo of the dashing young painter.

Jacob Lawrence
I told them he was born on the East Coast, New Jersey to be exact, and moved to the Harlem neighborhood of New York City when he was 13.  His mother sent him to art classes to keep him busy and he was to meet his future wife, Gwendolyn Knight, later in life in one of these classes. They both moved to Seattle so that he could become an art professor at the University of Washington. He passed away in 2000 and his work can be seen in several locations throughout the University.

I brought out two prints from Mr. Lawrence, the famous Library and Home Chores.

For the Library, I pointed out how the warm colors were in the books and clothing, and while there were cool colors (pointing out the purples and greens) seen in some areas, it really is a warm painting because of all the browns in the carpet and the dominate red of the hijab in the center.
The Library by Jacob Lawrence, gouache on paper, 1960
Then we talked about warm colors that show up again in Home Chores in the stripped dress and walls of the kitchen. While the cool blue is dominate in the center, and the cool green anchors the floor, they are both not as strong as the walls, door, floor mat and dress drawn in warm colors.

Home Chores by Jacob Lawrence, gouache on paper, 1945
Since the lesson was on the use of warm and cool colors, I also showed a warm color still life print from Paul Cezanne, along with a warm color outdoor dance scene print by Paul Rivera. To illustrate cool colors, I showcased a yacht print of Edward Hopper and water lilies by Claude Monet. I also wanted to show the children that some artists enjoy paintings in both moods, so I brought out two flowers from Georgia O'Keeffe, a red one and a purple one.

I placed the artwork around the front so everyone could see them and pulled out a personal color wheel to play a spinning game of Guess That Color. I would spin the wheel and whatever color it landed on, they had to guess if it was cool or warm. After a few rounds, I felt confident they knew the difference.

A yellow seahorse in a sea of blue.
I gave each child oil pastels and white construction paper and told them to draw one object in the middle of paper. The object could be anything they wanted, but it had to fill up their entire paper, like last time. The object had to be in either a warm or cool color. I also reminded them they could blend with their fingers or a paper towel if they wanted to, but only in similar colors. Once the object was drawn, its surroundings had to be in a contrasting warm or cool color.
Here are a few of the masterpieces.
A red dragon with a blue sky. Great use of space!

A Seahawk with a blended sky of red and yellow. Check out the details!

A blue flower with a red background. Inspired by Georgia O'Keefe!
To see more of our lessons, visit Elementary Art Lessons.

No comments:

Post a Comment