Sunday, February 11, 2024

Negative Space with Monochromatic Watercolors

This lesson could be taught at any level depending on how in depth you want to be with it. How do you teach negative space with watercolors? We used a circle template to create overlapping circles, and we experimented with layering to create depth and richness in our artwork. I want to revisit this lesson again next year and compare the results of monochromatic color schemes and creativity!

Materials Needed:

  • Watercolor paper / heavy duty drawing paper will do too.
  • Watercolor paints (in one color) Your choice
  • Brushes (various sizes)
  • Palette for mixing shades.
  • Water container
  • Circle template (you can make one by tracing around circular objects)
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Paper towels or cloth for blotting

Lesson Plan Idea Format that worked for us:

  1. Introduction to Negative Space and Monochromatic Color Schemes: Start by explaining what negative space is and introduce the concept of monochromatic color schemes. Use simple language like, "Negative space is the empty area around objects, and a monochromatic color scheme means using shades and tints of just one color."
  2. Circle Template Exploration: Show the students how to use the circle template to create a series of overlapping circles on their watercolor paper. Encourage them to vary the sizes and placement of the circles to create an interesting composition.
  3. Sketching and Layering: Have the students lightly sketch the outlines of the circles using a pencil. Next, instruct them to choose a base color from their watercolor palette and paint the circles using that color. Once the first layer dries, they can add a second layer of the same color on top of each circle to darken the shades. Repeat this process for a third layer if desired, gradually darkening the circles each time.
  4. Painting Negative Space: After layering the circles, it's time to focus on the negative space. Instruct the students to use a slightly darker shade of the same color to paint the areas around the circles. Emphasize the importance of leaving space between the circles to define the negative space.
  5. Adding Extra Circles: To further enhance the composition and practice negative space, encourage the students to add a few extra circles in between the existing ones. They can follow the same process of layering and painting negative space around these additional circles.
  6. Reflection and Cleanup: As the paintings dry, facilitate a discussion about the process and what the students learned about negative space and monochromatic color schemes. Encourage them to share their observations and experiences.
  7. Teacher Tip: Have a hair dryer (or 2) in class for drying in between layers.

National Standards Integration:

  • Visual Arts Standards: Incorporate elements of art (such as shape, color, and space) and principles of design (such as balance and unity) into the lesson.
  • Common Core State Standards (CCSS): Integrate standards related to speaking and listening by encouraging students to discuss their artwork and reflect on their learning.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): Connect with NGSS standards by discussing the properties of light and color in art and how they affect perception.

This lesson if using negative space and monochromatic color schemes through the medium of watercolors was a lot of fun. We are going to keep experimenting with layering and exploring different color combinations to continue our artistic journey this semester. The possibilities are endless when you let your creativity shine!

FUN IDEA: You could make this lesson holiday or season specific with the color theme you chose to use - for example: St. Patrick's Day would use lots of greens. Valentines Day would use more pinks and reds. 



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