After an introduction and practice work with the color wheel, my fifth graders meet Wassily Kandinsky’s work. This is one of my favorite projects with my 5th graders because I’ve managed to encompass a large variety of techniques, concepts, and skills for them. During the color theory unit students learn about primary, secondary, tertiary, complimentary, natural, warm, cool, and mixed colors which helps build up this project.
Students view Kandinsky work and discuss differences and personal observations about what Kandinsky could have been feeling when he was painting. We talk about the musical connection Kandinsky has in his work and proceed to listen to dynamic and contrasting music (no vocals) while we use washable markers to draw what comes to mind. We discuss abstract art and try to stay within these boundaries when we are practicing.
This takes up the first day I see them during this project (I see my 5th graders every 6 school days). Their homework is to listen to as much music as they can and get an idea of abstract concepts that come to mind during their listening. The next time they visit we talk about spacial design and how they want to portray some of the thoughts that come to mind when they were listening to music. Using a large sheet of paper the class designs their work using lines, shapes, and overlapping their ideas. Obviously we can’t have 25 songs going at once but they are encouraged to hum to themselves or recite it in their mind. A big reminder is “no scribbling” for the obvious reasons.
Then the color theory comes into play. This is outside of the Kandinsky style but helps reaffirm everything they’ve learned about color theory. They are to choose one color family and use only those colors to work with. We talk about how loud music can resemble colors and what connects we see in other situations. Students easily come to a decision after a short time of discussion. Students are instructed further on how to use the tempera block paints and what consistency you can get with the water.
Once all the students are finished I like to hang them in an area of the school that is over the windows. This creates a very neat “stained glass” effect. Another exciting point is that students are still talking about “Kandinsky” and we’re nearly done with the year. My 6th graders even remember him because they love the overlapping areas of education (music and art).