Thursday, March 27, 2014

Warm and Cool Silhouettes

Fourth graders did a great job on these landscapes!  This was a project packed with learning goals. First we talked about color temperature.  Students learned that color choice effects how the temperature in the painting looks like it would be if we could enter it. Warm colors make a picture look warm and cool colors make it look cool. Since even the temperature in the desert can get cool at night students got to choose which subject matter they would like in their paintings: cactus or palm trees.

Next we talked about value (the lightness or darkness of a color) and used value to create radiating lines to make our light source (sun or moon) look like it glows.  Kids who wanted to create a warm color temperature mixed different values with yellow and red.  Students who wanted to create a cool color temperature used white with any one of the cool colors of purple, blue, or green.

Finally, the kids learned how to show distance with their palm tree or cactus silhouettes.  The kids learned that atmospheric perspective causes subjects in the distance to look faded.  We created this effect by using light grey in the distance.

How to show distance in artwork: (in the foreground, middle ground and background)
- Size: bigger is closer, smaller is farther
- Value: dark is closer, faded is farther
- Placement in space: lower on the page is closer, higher is in the distance
- Overlapping: the one on top is in the front

The kids were warned that the palm trees were the trickiest and required the most careful brushwork but so many of the kids were up for the challenge!  I let them practice on newsprint before painting on their background paintings. We talked about how to get smooth thin lines with paint!  This is one of the trickiest things to do with paint!

Learning Goals: I can...
- Explain how to show color temperature in artwork
- Explain what a silhouette is
- Mix to make different values
- Explain how to show distance in artwork
- Paint smooth edges.
- Identify foreground, middle ground and background.

The inspiration for this project came from here and here.


  1. I love how you break down your learning goals! I always struggle with how to write them and what.

  2. Thank you so much for this idea! I used it in our desert unit with my 3 boys. I wrote a post about it on my blog and included a link back here. Thanks again!