Friday, January 22, 2016

5th Grade Winter Birch Trees

Artwork by Emery

Fifth graders focused on the art principle of contrast with this lesson.  We studied some of the works of famed American photographer Ansel Adams with an eye toward how he manipulated the contrast in his photographs to emphasize certain aspects of his subjects. 

Ansel Adams, Aspens at Grand Canyon, 1947

Using a 9"x 12" piece of drawing paper, students used masking tape to compose what would become their birch trees.  They were urged to think about asymmetrical balance (for example, several smaller trunks on one side balanced by a large trunk on the other).  Students then painted the areas between their trunks with dark blue watercolor paint, and I sprinkled salt into the wet areas of their paint to give a frosty or snowy texture to their skies.  On a second day, students carefully removed their masking tape and painted light blue shadows across the snow and along the trunks of their trees.  After these shadows dried, bark details were added using black tempura and very small brushes.  I think the lesson does a great job of introducing the students to an important artist while focusing them very specifically on one art principle -- and the results are really nice, too!   


Artwork by Isabel

Artwork by Madison

Artwork by Shannon


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