Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kandinsky: Student Work

This is a lesson I never get tired of.  I know it is a staple with most art educators and why not....the results are always stunning!

This is what Grade 1 accomplished today.


- watercolor paper
- painter's masking tape, I use the green
- disk tempera colour
- white and yellow oil pastels
- pencil and ruler
- reference photos of Kandinsky's work
- paper and crayons for a "practice" design


Before we started painting each student did a practice drawing on a piece of paper using crayons.  The main emphasis was that each square should look different.  I showed them Kandinsky's colour studies and we talked about our favorite colours.
I took quarter sheets of watercolor paper, masked them down on our art boards.

I then drew in a 6 square grid for the students to follow.  With older kids you can have them measure out the grid and do a larger version (12 squares).

We talked about circles and rings, how we wanted a bulls eye. 

I then asked them to put a circle or ring in oil pastel in 3 of the squares.

They then started painting.  Now I could have only used primary colours and have them mix the secondary but with the tempera disks we tend to get more muddy brown than anything.  So I provided both primary and secondary colours to them.

When the students had finished making circles they filled in the remaining part of the square with colour.

By the end no white remains except what was coloured in with white pastel.

Let dry, remove tape, mount on construction paper and display.

Just like that you have a beautiful bulletin board!

Great work Grade 1!


  1. I loved it, they look great together!

  2. You are right, like many lessons we all blog it is a staple - but it's always interesting to see other teacher's approach, so that each time it's revisited it takes on a new life! Thanks :)

  3. LOVE... nothing more needs to be said!

  4. Yay, those look great, can't wait to do it with my ones!!

  5. Spectacular colours! Gail, do you have some materials management tips for painting with grade 1s? It looks like you have 1 brush assigned for each colour of paint with the puck sitting in some water in a plastic "trough", a small container for water, and painting shirts? ;)

  6. Hey Leeanne,
    I do use art shirts, which are just my husband's old dress shirts with the arms cut down. I have 2 class sets (some shirts I got from Goodwill) and they get laundered on a regular basis. I have also have had the kids bring in an art shirt for the year which hangs in their cubby.
    - with Kinders to Grade 3 I put the tempera pucks in individual containers. That enables me to only set out the colors I want them to use. If I give them a tray of 6 and say only use such and such a color, that won't work, they can't resist and I end up with muddy brown (they will use all the colors and mix them on the tray).
    I also put a paintbrush into each color so they don't have to keep washing their brushes.
    I pour a little water into the container and they kids use that on the puck. When the group of students are finished with the paints I dump out any excess water. By only adding a little water at a time there is usually very little excess. I then leave the puck in the container to dry out and then it's ready to go for next time. I have about 6 sets of each color in containers.
    With older kids, Grade 4 and up, I use the trays with 6 colors.
    Hope that helps.

    1. Absolutely! Looking forward to trying this out next week with the kids! Thank-you for your inspiring site. Your step-by-step instructions (with pictures - YES!!) are fantastic. P.S. LOVE the green painting tape tip - gives the projects a finished look and draws the attention to the piece ;)

  7. I think that's a wonderful idea. I've tried Kandinsky before but the way you've gone about seems so easy. I'm thinking great buddy activity, it'll be interesting to see how the five year olds approach the art work as compared to ten year olds.

  8. I'm curious if you used Usborne's Art Treasury as a model for this project. The book has a section dedicated to Kandinksy and the resulting work is very similar. If you did, I'd like to link your post to my blog as an example of a project from the book. However you did it, it turned out beautiful!

    1. Hey Elizabeth A.
      I did not use the Art Treasury book specifically, in fact I had to go and look at the school copy to check. It is the same though so you can link to it if you want. It's a classic art project that most art educators do with Division 1 (Kinders to Grade 3). It's one of those amazing projects that always turns out. Very successful :)