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Art Lessons for Kids - Abstract Nature/Complementary Colors

Updated on July 28, 2011

Complementary Color Exercise/Abstract Art

Student's work using oil pastel
Student's work using oil pastel
Student's work using oil pastel
Student's work using oil pastel
Student's work using oil pastel
Student's work using oil pastel
Student's work using oil pastel
Student's work using oil pastel
Student's work using oil pastel
Student's work using oil pastel
Display of Student's Work
Display of Student's Work

From Nature to Abstract Art

Ages 7+

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.

Students will learn: Field Drawing, Complementary Colors, Abstract Art, Positive/Negative Space, Composition and Saturated Color.

You Will Need

  • Pencils
  • 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

  1. Begin by showing pictures of Botanical Sketches or Nature Sketches.
  2. Each student will get a pencil and a sheet of paper (drawing boards are optional, though recommended).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

  1. Explain Complementary Colors to the students. They will need to choose one pair that they will work with for the remainder of the project.
  2. 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.
  3. Students then assign one of their colors to the positive space and one to the negative space.
  4. 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

Pencil Drawing of one object in nature.  This is then a section of this is cropped in the same dimensions as the final work of abstract art.
Pencil Drawing of one object in nature. This is then a section of this is cropped in the same dimensions as the final work of abstract art.

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    • Better Living profile image

      Better Living 4 years ago

      More fun ideas. Thank you!

    • Laura Spector profile image
      Author

      Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand

      Thank you so much lubna!

    • profile image

      lubna 7 years ago

      its good 2 see a wonderful art like urs...........god bless u.....i hope u will be a wonderful artist in future

    • Laura Spector profile image
      Author

      Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand

      Nikki - Thanks! Glad you stopped by!

    • nikki1 profile image

      nikki1 7 years ago

      Awesome artwork, my friend.

    • Laura Spector profile image
      Author

      Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand

      tonymac - Thank you! I hope you both have loads of fun!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Wonderful ideas - thank you! I'm going to try this out with my seven-year-old who is quite artistic.

      Love and peace

      Tony