Art Lessons for Kids - Abstract Nature/Complementary Colors
Complementary Color Exercise/Abstract Art
From Nature to Abstract Art
This exercise is great to mix with a science lesson. I often talk about the discovery of the Galapagos Islands and how scientists would make field study drawings or botanical drawings of the nature they discovered. I recommend printing out some drawings for the students to look at prior to their initial expedition! This is an outdoor and indoor activity and there are 2 parts to it: Drawing from nature and Abstracting the drawing into a Complementary Color Exercise.
You Will Need
- Paper for sketching
- An area outdoors with natural objects to draw
- White paper for oil pastels or acrylic paint
- Oil Pastels or an Acrylic Paint Set Up
Part One - The Expedition
- Begin by showing pictures of Botanical Sketches or Nature Sketches.
- Each student will get a pencil and a sheet of paper (drawing boards are optional, though recommended).
- Go outside and find one object in nature and draw it larger than life. With students choosing tiny leaves, I'll ask them to draw the leaves 5 times the actual size.
- If they finish one view and there is time remaining, I recommend filling up the entire page with as many views of the same object as they can.
- Have students pick the most interesting part of one of their drawings and crop it into a rectangle in the same dimensions as their white paper will be.
Part 2 - Abstract Shapes and Complementary Colors
Complementary color pairs are: blue/orange, violet/yellow and green/red
- Explain Complementary Colors to the students. They will need to choose one pair that they will work with for the remainder of the project.
- Using a pencil, students enlarge and recreate the cropped area of their field drawing/botanical drawing, lightly in pencil onto the white paper. These shapes should be large. I usually explain Positive and Negative Space so students begin noticing Composition.
- Students then assign one of their colors to the positive space and one to the negative space.
- Color in the areas, allowing veins of leaves or intricate details to stay white if preferred. Oil pastels will need a bit of elbow grease (heavy pressure) to get rid of all the little white spots. Saturated Color looks best for a finished work of art.
Nature/Botanical/Field Study Drawing
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