EVERYTHING HAS A SHADOW.
This watercolor project is a terrific way to teach this principle.
Do you see the black arrow attached with tape in the image above? Each kid had to choose where the sunlight would be coming from in their picture and then make sure every single object in the picture plane reacted with a shadow accordingly.
First, we talked about why we block our paper. This is the act of taping watercolor paper to a board, wetting the paper and then letting the paper dry. Blocking stretches and shrinks the paper. When working with watercolor, a tremendous amount of water gets applied to the paper. The paper absorbs the water and stretches itself to its max. This causes waving and rippling. Normally, a piece of paper would stay in this state but a blocked paper has already encountered water in a controlled setting. It’s taped down tight with no room to warp and has been forced to stretch tight preventing the rippling. It’s a great artist practice and there’s even a little science behind it.
Next, we started with the backgrounds. I had the kids take their pencil, follow their arrow and run it across the paper pretending it was a flashlight. What part of the bowl will the flashlight hit first? Following your arrow of light, where will the flashlight hit each apple? The rule of a shadow is that the shadow falls in the complete opposite direction of the light. So, the pencil pretending to be a flashlight really hits home the front and back of each object. Many people do not notice that every single item be it a nose on a face or a pencil on a desk, has a shadow.
The third step was creating shadows in the bowl. The deepest part of something with depth is the darkest. The shallowest part of a bowl has access to light, therefore its lighter. The kids worked from a very dark center to a light outer ring. Hoping to convey depth.
The finale culminated with the painting of the apples. We filled each apple with clean water on the paper and then allowed the colors of an apple to bleed into one another. Red, green and yellow were used and a little bit of purple to denote the shadow of the apple itself.
Watercolor is a tough medium to learn. You are always adding paint and water as well as trying to take away paint and water. It’s a tricky balance.
The only bummer is that I couldn’t show the kids the difference between expensive paints and cheap ones. Boy is there a big difference! Of course we had the “affordable” paints. With them, red looks like pink, green a faded yellow and black a light grey. Cheap paint just doesn’t posses the pigments needed to obtain gorgeous colors. Yeah, the kids catch the gist, but not the magic of amazing paints…
I guess that’s the prize of keeping with the arts and investing as you go along… I know my first watercolors were Crayola. It was enough to wet my appetite for more. I hope the same for this new generation coming up!