Color Connections - Mid-Pacific Institute

Art - Day

Color Connections

Posted on September 10, 2016

by Abbey Day on September 10, 2016

1st/2nd Grades:

photo hunt.jpg

We continue our color inquiry with an investigation of the colors of our landscape. The children worked with partners to capture the colors of our school environment by using the iPad cameras. After shooting, the children had to evaluate their photos, selecting only five with the most interesting colors. There was much excitement to see their printed photos the next week. Here are some of their shots:

photo hunt fireworks.jpg

photo hunt bark.jpg

photo hunt chalk.jpg

photo hunt clouds.jpg

The children and I then worked together to create a color story that took the form of an abstract landscape. By holding up a simple blue photograph (that a pair of students took from the Kindergarten sign), I asked if that photo told an interesting story. There was a resounding "no!" Some students described the photo as "just an empty sea," or, "a blue sky, nothing in it," while another added "there's not even any fish or birds!" By looking through a few more photographs, each class settled on what they thought told the most interesting story. While one class came to conclude that a closeup of the tree bark outside the arthouse was about the "Ant Grand Canyon," another class saw fireworks in an exploding bush.

Having modeled different painting techniques, the students began the task of creating their own plan for their abstract landscape. Of their photographs, which colors were they most interested in engaging with? Would they want to add color elements from other photographs to create more of a collage? How might someone feel when looking at their artwork? The children's varied responses demonstrate their cultivating their unique artistic voice and style.

abstract painting.jpg

abstract painting 2.jpg

3rd/4th Grades:

color mixing pallet.jpg

While completing our mixing of 64-colors challenge from the three primary colors and white, similar questions kept arising during work time -- "How do you make orange again?" "How do you make teal?" "What happens if I add red to green?" Students continually responded to one another to help and used their experimenting to synthesize ideas of color relationships. It was fascinating to see how students organized their page. Some were very systematic, while others took a more randomized approach. We will review all the children's artwork this week and see what kinds of conclusions we can draw about the experience. Some of the different color mixing organization approaches:

64 colors 3.jpg

64 colors 1.jpg

64 colors 4.jpg

64 colors 2.jpg

Given that the students were most curious with the relationship of colors, we began to explore that area more deeply. Students worked either in pairs, small groups, or on their own and were given a set of color chips. After placing the three primary colors, they were asked to place the rest of the chips where they thought most fitting. The knowledge gained in playing Blendoku (an iPad app about the mixing and relationship of colors) was clearly evident in this task. The children again developed different ways of organizing the colors, but nonetheless were able to answer the following questions:

What color do you think is the opposite of green?

Which colors do you consider in the same family as orange?

Are there any chips where just black or white was added to a color?

Using their developed system, their knowledge from their painting experiments, and the playing of Blendoku, the children came to the correct conclusions and began to engage with color theory that is often reserved for middle-school and above. They surmised that red is the opposite of green, because it's the furthest one away from it. Yellow and red are in the same family as orange, because they're touching, and pink is just red mixed with white. With these conclusions made, the children were then introduced to the concept of monochromatic (a color mixed with black or white), complementary (opposite colors), and analogous (family colors) schemes.

color chips 3.jpg

color chips 1.jpg

color chips 2.jpg

color chips 4.jpg

We are actively working on creating a painting that demonstrates these three color ideas and will soon reflect on the different feelings and ideas they may call to mind.

5th Grade:

The 5th grade is starting to dive into our perception of color and what happens in the brain as we encounter different color combinations and patterns. Together, the children viewed and discussed different optical illusion artworks and the paintings of Bridget Riley, an Op-Artist who developed her practice in the 1960s.

bridget riley 2.jpg


After a lot of oohs and ahhs, the children started to draw connections to the color relationships. The artists often used opposite colors to help trick the eye. Perhaps most exciting was staring at an orange and green flag for a minute. After that minute, almost magically, there appeared a blue and pinkish flag. How did that happen? Why did that happen? They're opposites! With this new knowledge, students began to create two paintings with contrasting patterns and colors, resulting in their own optical illusions.

optical illusion paintings.jpg