Artwork by Lucy
This lesson follows on the heels of the third grade's science unit on space and our solar system. From a science standpoint, the lesson gives us a chance to expand the students' fresh understanding of solar systems to those that are now being discovered far from our own sun. We discuss the hundreds of new planets orbiting distant stars and currently being discovered by astronomers and wonder what these planets might look like, with the help of some professional artists' renderings.
Returning to our own art, we look at the professional planetary renderings and conclude that the artists who drew them made the planets look spherical (gave form to shape) through the use of shadows on one side and highlights on the other - the side facing the the system's sun. Students then use circle tracers to make four or five planets of different sizes from diffrent colors of construction paper. Then they use oil pastels (because of their capacity for blending) to color their planets with a "crescent moon" shape of highlight one side, a similar shape of shadow (using a same hue but darker value of the construction paper color) on the other. Students blend the colors into together with either their finger or a cue tip.
After cutting out their planets, the artists play with various compositions on a 11x14 piece of black construction paper. Their composition must include one planet overlapping another (to help with the illusion of depth or space), and they must also consider visual balance. Of course, the planets must also be arranged so that all their highlight sides and shadow sides face in the same direction. Finally, with white colored pencils, the students add astronomical features such as distant stars, moons, comets, meteors, and galaxies. I'm always pleased with how these seem to turn out, and I think the lesson works well both to reinforce a number of important art concepts, with the bonus of being able to explore their science topic a little more deeply.
Artwork by Hayleigh
Artwork by Shannon
Artwork by Tayla