Saturday, January 5, 2019

Wolf Kahn inspired landscapes!

My DragonWing Arts winter session has begun, with a couple of new students joining the class!  Our theme for the winter is 'Color my World', and we will do projects that beat the winter blues by using lots of colors, with the natural world as our inspiration.
We started with a quick project, inspired by the work of artist Wolf Kahn, to get everyone messy.  The kids liked his cheerful colors, and the simplicity of the lines of his trees.  We didn't seek to copy his work; we instead used it as a motivation and inspiration.  His work often has layers of color, to represent background, foreground, and middle ground.  We created our layers of color with pastel chalks, on both white paper and on gray bogus paper. 
The kids colored with the chalk and then used either their finger, or a paper towel wrapped around their finger, to blend each layer.  We shook excess chalk dust into the garbage can to prevent dust in the air!
 Then, we used the edges of rectangles of cardboard as our painting tools!  (The brushes were for a different project.)
I had a genius inspiration about paint distribution. I wanted to squeeze paint into lines on these foil cookie sheets, so that the kids could dip the long pieces of cardboard.  But I didn't want to have to wash the trays.  I discovered I had some scraps pieces of vinyl contact paper, and I lined each tray with a piece of it.  Here's a pic of the contact paper covered trays.
Because I have just 5 students in the class (and one was absent), I was able to give each student their own tray, so they could select their own colors.  Then the cardboard was dipped in colors and stamped to make trees.  Here we are, stamping away!  You can see the trays with the lines of paint on them in the pic below.  By the way, the paint was tempera.
 There were also shorter pieces of cardboard that the kids could use for branches or bushes. They could even be folded to create foliage.
 One student bent his long cardboard pieces to make trees that bent and twisted.  I think they look pretty cool.
 Here's all the final results on the gray bogus paper.
 Each one is so unique!
And here are the final results on the white paper.
 When everyone was done, and we were out of time, we pulled monoprints off the leftover paints in the trays, and then peeled up the contact paper to discard.  Poof!  The foil trays were clean again!  This pic below is the paint left on the tray.  I'll show you to monoprint another time, since we will be using them for a future project.  I think this looks like an abstract painting!  If it was acrylic, I'd have wanted to save it.  But since it was tempera, I knew it would just crack, so it was discarded. 
And here's how easy it peeled up off the tray.  Any paint on the silver was something that was there from a previous use of the tray.
I was planning to have the kids use the leftover paint to do something like my sample below, but we ran out of time.  Our hands (and one nose and one forehead) were VERY messy with chalk and paint, so cleanup was a priority!
 Below are some samples I made to test out the project before introducing it to my students.  I experimented with using chalk over paint, but in the end I preferred the samples with chalk as background. 
 On the sample below, I added some chalk shadows under the trees when the paint was dry.  I plan to give the students an opportunity to do that to their paintings in the next class, if they'd like. 
It was  a fun project, and when everything is dry and complete, we will probably be 'framing' them with some colored construction paper.  They should look terrific! 


  1. These are so beautiful. The texture is fabulous and of course, the layering of color is outstanding.

  2. They turned out great, Phyl! Donna Staten

  3. Hi Phyl, Elementary art teacher here. I've never commented before but I've been following you for a long time on There's a Dragon in My Art Room. You are the coolest. I love your posts and everything you share. This lesson is Bee-U-T-ful! I love that they didn't try to copy Wolf Kahn. You showed them technique and they created their own art inspired by his colors and subject matter. I want to try this one soon. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. All of the visuals help us visual learners so much. I still have a few more years before retirement but hope to continue like you. You have been quite an inspiration to me. Thanks!

    1. What a delightful comment to receive! Thank you very much; I appreciate your kind words. If you ever go to an NAEA convention, let me know; we'll meet up!

  4. WOW Phyl, what a great lesson is this! I will definitely use this one for my fourth grade students this year!