Sunday, March 4, 2012

Unit Completed! Monochromatic Watercolor Spheres


Many years ago I took a college level watercolor painting class where I had painted a series of monochromatic pictures.  The stylized swan above is one of them, and it is painted with a range of values in Payne's gray paint.  I was inspired to give my students an opportunity to use watercolor paints, diluted in different concentrations to create values from light to medium to dark.  I wanted to build directly on the shading skills that they had already practiced, so when I came across this print by printmaker M C Escher, the idea of painting a group of spheres really made sense. 


I loved the way that the spheres were floating across the composition.  The kids were inspired by the sense of realism that the contrasting values created.  I asked them to draw five circles of various sizes on  a sheet of 12 x 18 paper.  I did a demonstration of how to use the watercolor paints to create different values depending on the amount of water that was used.  I also showed them the difference between wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry, and we discussed the pros and cons of each technique.  My students were familiar with using the Crayola watercolor ovals in the tray, but for this lesson we used tube paints.  The students enjoyed using these richly pigmented paints, and were highly motivated to paint their spheres.
Here is a small sample of a few of the finished paintings.  This lesson proved to be a wonderful ending to a successful unit about using value. I hope you enjoy viewing our work!


Period Five student Molly L. made her circle composition have a lot of overlapping.  This made it even more challenging to paint, but she did an awesome job when she defined each sphere by using strong shadows and bright highlights.  Good work!

David M. experimented with using the wet-on-wet technique for this picture.  By pre-wetting the paper and them painting on top of it you get a loose, watery effect.  I like the way that he managed to keep his brights white!  This was also very challenging to do!

The lime green paint provided its own challenges, since the pigment tended to separate and become almost grainy in appearance if it became overworked.  This painting by Mackenzie E. shows how she created contrast by using the opposite value around the outside of each sphere.  You can see this where there is a light area on the sphere and a dark value in the background around it.  Beautiful work!

Arden B. from period 1 had extra space and added a sixth circle to her composition.  I like the way that she has a large amount of background area.  She clearly established a light source from the right of the picture as evidenced by the strong shadows to the left of each sphere. 
 Anya also used six sphere in this image, and I really like the range of sizes that make up her composition.  The two small spheres remind me of the way that Escher used his sphere in the exemplar in this post.  A difficult and successful solution to this assignment!

3 comments:

Miss said...

What a simple yet effective lesson in watercolours and value. I really envy how you put together these tight units. I have always tended to flit from one medium/technique/subject to another. I have definitely been inspired by your Value Unit. Thanks for sharing!

one little deer said...

Thsnk you for your kind words! It is not easy for me to stay focused for long on one theme, but this unit really progressed quickly. The kids really got a lot out of it! Glad you enjoyed reading about it, too!

one little deer said...

Thsnk you for your kind words! It is not easy for me to stay focused for long on one theme, but this unit really progressed quickly. The kids really got a lot out of it! Glad you enjoyed reading about it, too!