As we move around the world in geography, I thought it would be fun to learn about some artists in each of the countries that we visit. But what fun is an art class with only two people in it? Not as much fun as inviting some friends to come and join in. Our first American artist is Jasper Johns. This was an easy pick, because he painted iconic symbols of America, like the map, and the United States flag.
For our project, we chose to emulate his "Colored Alphabet" painting.
For our version, we used the following supplies:
assorted paint brushes (the one that comes with the paints is almost always terrible. Throw it away!)
pencil and ruler
2-inch letter stencils (optional, but great for working on fine motor skills)
To start, lightly draw a grid on the paper with the pencil, 5 boxes across, and 5 boxes down. These will be the spaces for each letter. You might wonder how we fit 26 letters into 25 spaces. We sneaked the "I" between two of the boxes. See the original below.
While you are making the grid, you can give your child a scrap of watercolor paper and some crayons to experiment with. Then show them how the wax resists the watercolor when painted over the crayon lines.
Now you are ready to make the letters. Using the stencils or free-handing, outline all 26 letters in pencil. Then, use the crayons to color the letters in. You can make them all the same color, or make patterns within each letter. The harder you press on the crayons, the more wax that is transferred to the paper, and the better it will resist the watercolor.
After all the letters are colored, it's time to paint! To make the borders of the boxes more defined, we painted a line on the border, and then filled in the box. This is not necessary, though. It's fun to experiment and try different techniques.
Some of our artists used lots of different paint colors in each box, while others used just one. See how the paint changes when you add more water.
A good practice when changing colors is 1) swish in the water, 2) tap on the edge of the cup to let some water drip off, and 3) blot the water on a paper towel. Personally though, I love to mix colors, and I don't mind when they blend a little bit with each other.
And you're done! Don't forget to take a picture!
If you do this project with your kids at home, or with your class at school, let us know! I'd love to see how they interpreted the lesson! You can even share a link to your project in the comments, or on the facebook page.
Here are some other resources on Jasper Johns:
Jasper Johns Documentary on YouTube Great info. A little boring. Good for gathering details to share with the class.
Don't forget to check the library so they can see some of the work up close and study it. I used binder clips to keep curious eyes from seeing artwork they aren't ready for.
If you are still in the mood for more watercolor fun, check out some of the projects we did for Emma's watercolor birthday party.
And the school poster Emma made that won first place!