Warhol: An Art Lesson Any Parent Can Do
July 28, 2015
You may have reached that point in your summer where the novelty has worn off and you desperately need something that will wow your kids. Here’s an easy art project that will teach, challenge, and – most important to a mom who’s heard one too many whines – entertain.
If you did our first project Seurat, you will remember the color wheel. The primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) with white and black to tone them, can combine to make all colors.
When organized on a wheel, you can identify two groups. The analogous group is made up of those colors that sit next to each other on a wheel. They are naturally similar so blend well and create a calm harmonious feeling in art. The complementary group consists of the colors directly across the wheel from each other. For example red and green. These shades contrast and will appear most vibrant next to each other to create a bolder feeling in a piece.
Create color blocks on paper or index cards then hold them against various colors in your house. See how different a single color can look when place on an analogous or complementary color. Think about how an artist might use this to create their art.
The work of Andy Warhol shows an obvious use of complementary color. Even if you didn’t know the name, you will recognize his art. It is popular and unforgettable. Warhol was born in 1928 and, though he died fairly young in 1987, contributed fundamentally to the pop art movement. He worked for magazines, painted, sculpted, wrote, produced movies and TV shows, and more. He loved the idea of the everyday object as art, so painted things like Campbell’s Soup and Coca-Cola as well as depicting celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis.
Warhol’s most recognizable work was done with silk screening and printing, processes that create the picture in one place then apply it to the final work. With this technique you can color the same image in many different ways. Let’s try it!
For this project you will need some kind of Styrofoam (a plate, a cup, a takeout container …) and paper or anything else the can decorate. Kids get really into this activity so, while the pieces don’t have to be big, you probably want enough Styrofoam and paper to do several pictures. You can use a stamp pad but I’d really recommend paint for the fun factor.
Use the tip of a paintbrush or a pencil to carve a design into the Styrofoam but keep it somewhat simple. You can draw everyday objects like Warhol did, or your favorite animal, shapes, or a letter. The more defined your lines are, the better they will print onto your page. When you have a picture carved into your plate, paint or stamp a layer of color over the whole plate, then press it down onto your paper. Carefully lift the plate and you will see color with your picture left in white.
Wipe the Styrofoam, repaint, considering analogous or complementary colors, and press down again near the first print. You can keep it exactly the same or change its position by turning it. Continue until you’ve filled your surface.
If your little ones are anything like my students, they’ll want to carve a new picture and try again!