Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How To Teach A Child To Paint - Shading with Color

Shading is such an important skill to acquire when learning to paint. Fortunately, we Montessorians have Color Box III. Each set of tablets range from dark to light in its particular color. It is a beautiful material and it is often under used.

We also have the touch boards which are designed to teach lightness of touch, spacing and to present the contrast between rough and smooth. I remember my trainer telling me that if a student is seen regularly breaking off the tip of his pencil when he writes to have him review the touch boards. From this work he should learn the contrast between hard/rough touching and light/soft touching and apply it to his pencil usage. It is a perfect material to pair with the Color box III

I recently gave a very basic painting lesson on shading. I do give a much earlier lesson on shading using the metal insets and the color tablets.

My goal for the lesson I presented today was to illustrate the full spectrum of a color, from dark to light, via one brush stroke. I repeatedly demonstrated the significance of force as applied to the brush, the positioning of the hairs on the paper and the effects of a single stroke so the children could really see each step.

I was so pleased by the results. It was almost a Zen-like act. Cristina (who had a turn at doing the lesson) said she felt the work was very relaxing.

The next day, Emma, one of my kindergarteners, was doing carrot work. She said, "Miss Dyer, the brush stroke lesson you gave yesterday, going from pushing down to lifting up, is just like peeling a carrot. You push down at the top and then swoosh down lifting up just as you finishing peeling."

I smiled and said, "That sounds just about right, Emma."


Later, that morning, I returned to the presentation and demonstrated how adding a little black or the color opposite of a color on the color wheel can add shadow or definition to a color. I used the gray color tablet set and the touch boards to again demonstrate the contrast between a firm stroke and a soft stroke of the brush. The set of gray tablets helped demonstrate that adding a darker gray or even black to a color darkened it and that adding white or light gray to a color lightened the color.

As adults we take so much of this for granted. A child needs the steps broken down and demonstrated. Every child asked if they could try making a single stroke of color and then washing over it with black or white.

My final presentation on shading, given a few days later, demonstrated pencil shading. I showed the constrast between firmly made strokes and light strokes. Again the touch boards aided my presentation. I did a sketch or outline of the same object used in my earlier lesson on simple sketching only I shaded in areas and then smudged it with my finger - a shading technique. The children seemed to be mostly interested in the smudging and asked several times to see the tips of my fingers. I gladly showed them.


Amber said...

Again, this is fantastic. You're very thought provoking.

May I ask - is the photo of the feet & the chalked colour wheel yours or from somewhere? It's gorgeous.

Susan Y. Dyer said...

it is from a google search for color wheel...thanks for the uplifting comments.

Susan Dyer
The Moveable Alphabet