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ART Project Ideas from the Greats – Color Schemes with the Masters

Sometimes when I look at a photograph or a painting, I feel as if I am in the picture. Even movies. I was watching Star Wars IV last weekend, and realized how each scene evokes a sense of being there. The oranges and beiges of Tatooine under that crystal blue sky. The cool blacks and violets of the Death Star.

So I thought it would be fun to explore the idea of color schemes by looking at the works of the masters. Try this with your student. You might be surprised at what they come up with!

1. The image below is a landscape.

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853 - 1890 ), Green Wheat Fields, Auvers, 1890, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
© National Gallery of Art/ Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853 – 1890 ), Green Wheat Fields, Auvers, 1890, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
Some color ideas
Some color ideas

Have your student look at the colors. Is the artist using every color under the rainbow, or has he chosen just a few? Can your student find crayons to match? Try creating a piece of artwork with these colors and see how it looks.

2. The image below is also a landscape.

 

Paul Gauguin (French, 1848 - 1903 ), Haystacks in Brittany, 1890, oil on canvas, Gift of the W. Averell Harriman Foundation in memory of Marie N. Harriman
© National Gallery of Art / Paul Gauguin (French, 1848 – 1903 ), Haystacks in Brittany, 1890, oil on canvas, Gift of the W. Averell Harriman Foundation in memory of Marie N. Harriman
Some color ideas
Some color ideas

But have your student look at the colors. What has this artist added to the scheme? See the reds and oranges? How do they change the feeling of the painting? Are the blues and greens the same as the first one, or different? Select crayons to match and get to work!

3. The image below is a portrait.

 

Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 - 1669 ), Self-Portrait, 1659, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection
© National Gallery of Art / Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 – 1669 ), Self-Portrait, 1659, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection
Some color ideas
Some color ideas

Do we have the same colors as in the landscapes, or is this one completely different? Can your student find crayons to match? Have him/her try creating a portrait with these colors. How does it look? Does it have a mood to it?

4. The image below is also a portrait.

Auguste Renoir (French, 1841 - 1919 ), Mademoiselle Sicot, 1865, oil on canvas, Chester Dale Collection
© National Gallery of Art / Auguste Renoir (French, 1841 – 1919 ), Mademoiselle Sicot, 1865, oil on canvas, Chester Dale Collection
Some color ideas
Some color ideas

How does this compare to the other portrait? Do the colors have a different feel? Can you find crayons to match? Try coloring something with this color palette and see what it looks like.

This can be easily extended by looking at art or photographs over the next weeks.

Think about the colors used in your student’s favorite shows or books. What are the main colors in a show about outer space? A book about the desert? How do they look to you? Do the colors make sense to you? Can you try the colors in your own artwork?

Have fun with this.

And definitely check out the National Gallery of Art Image Archive. Many of them are free to download, and it is a great educational source. (Note: The Gallery shows paintings from the masters, so there may be some, ahem, figures. Check first for what you find appropriate before showing your children.)

 

 

ART Project Ideas from the Greats – Color Schemes with the Masters

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