Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wild beasts, wild patterns, wild colors!

Cheetah by Sylvia, grade 2
My DragonWing Arts students were introduced to Henri Matisse, and his use of both bright colors and repeating patterns in his paintings.  We talked about how he and his contemporaries were criticized for their wild use of color, and were nicknamed "fauves" which means "wild beasts".
Zebra by Mackenzie, grade 4
So, my students drew and painted wild beasts!  To be specific, they selected from the wild animals of Africa, and incorporated both bright colors and repeating patterns in their paintings.

To begin, students examined pictures of their selected animal, looked for the basic shapes in their bodies, and practiced drawing them in their sketchbooks.  Once they had practiced, the animals were drawn with yellow chalk on white sulphite paper that had been cut to 15"x 21", Chalk was used for three reasons: to encourage the kids to draw large, to make it easy to wipe off (erase) and adjust the lines, and to eliminate having pencil lines that would show through the paints.
The animals were painted with fluorescent tempera paints.  When dry, black Sharpie was used to outline the patterns on their bodies, and also any details of the painting.  The elephant below is not quite complete, as the artist was absent for one class.  The ear, eye, and mouth will be outlined, which will help define the animal.
Elephant by Joe, grade 3
Meanwhile, on a sheet of 18"x 24" white paper, a 1-1/2" border was marked off with pencil. The borders were left white, and inside the border, the rest of the paper was painted with black tempera. When the black paint was totally dry, white patterns were added by stamping various items, including the ends of cardboard rolls, dowels, and pencil erasers; also the edges of cardboard squares, and pipe cleaners shaped into zigzags. As you can tell, this was a fun activity!
The animals were cut out and glued onto the black and white paper.  The white border was decorated with animal print paper, and, in the case of the zebra, also turquoise metallic paper.  Finally, the projects were glued onto sheets of 20"x 26" fluorescent poster board!
Giraffe, by Forrest, grade 3
By the way, the animal print paper, the colored metallic paper, and the fluorescent poster board all came from Pacon.  I had developed a lesson for Pacon using their new plastic poster board, and to thank me, I was given the opportunity to select $100 value of any products in the Pacon catalog!  These papers were among the materials that I selected.  Thank you, Pacon!  A small business like DragonWing Arts can't always afford purchases of these niche products.  By the way, I wrote about the plastic poster board, here and here on the blog, and one of the lessons I developed using the poster board will be distributed at the Pacon booth in the vendor area at the upcoming NAEA convention in Chicago.

Coming soon, here on the blog, more wild and wacky fauve wild beasts, this time made from papier-mache!  Here's a little teaser for you!


  1. Love these wild beasts Phyl - so Dynamic! Great idea to use yellow chalk instead of pencil. I'm definitely going to be trying this lesson.

    1. Thanks. The chalk makes them draw big, and doesn't show through the paint, so it's awesome!

  2. These are awesome. I love the idea of printing in the background with various found objects.

    1. Thank you Janis. The kids had fun doing the printing but I think they thought I was a little crazy until they saw how they looked all put tighter with their animal paintings!