Level III-Art Lesson 8: Kandinsky and Color Mixing
Learn to mix colors, and create original abstract art patterned after Kandinsky's masterpiece
The lesson is suitable for students in grade 5 through adult.
Art Lesson Description:
Most people know the basics of color mixing: the primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. If we mix two primary colors, we get secondary colors: green, violet, and orange. Wasilly Kandinsky’s painting, Farbstudie Quadrate, turns this common knowledge into an adventure. Imitating his painting becomes an invitation not only to explore color mixing, but also to explore what happens when we put colors next to each other. Learning color theory has never been so much fun!
Kandinsky’s life is a window on the tumultuous events of the early 20th century. He lived in Russia before and after the Communist Revolution, he lived in Germany while the Nazis were rising to power, and lived in France during World War II. Because of his life’s historical setting, his art is influenced by French Impressionism, Russian Constructivism, and the German Bauhaus Movement.
The lesson introduces students to Kandinsky’s art and to the proportions that one needs to follow in order to mix colors successfully. Students will mix 5 colors to create 18 colors and will use the colors to create their own version of Kandinsky’s famous painting, Farbstudie Quadrate.
Unlike other ArtAchieve lessons, this lesson does not require a printed warm-up. A painting warm-up is, however, included in the lesson.
This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson.
List of Supplies for Each Art Student:
- Five colors of tempera paints or acrylic paints: black, white, yellow, red, and blue
- Paint palette
- Set of brushes
- One sheet of ordinary paper for the painting warm-up
- One sheet of 11" x 15" watercolor paper for the painting
- A container of water to rinse your brush in
- Masking tape
- Drawing board: (Make your own by cutting an 18" x 24" piece of 1/4" masonite)
- A ruler
- A pencil
Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:
- Study the history of World War II.
- Learn about the Russian Revolution.
- Watch the movie, The Hiding Place, a story set in The Netherlands in WWII.
Science: In this lesson you learn how to mix colors with paint. Learn how to mix colors with light also.
Language Arts: Several exciting young adult books deal with life during WWII:
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank,
- Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan,
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, and
- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry are some examples.
Geography: Kandinsky found inspiration in the colors and shapes of the houses and churches in Vologda, Russia. Find pictures of the city and find images of what inspired him.
- Learn about the art that influenced Kandinsky: French Impressionism, Russian Constructivism, or the Bauhaus Movement.
- Learn more about Kandinsky's theory of color.
- Read The Noisy Paint Box - An this exuberant celebration of creativity that tells the fascinating story of Vasily Kandinsky.
Approximate Time to Complete the Art Class:
- Warm-up (learning to mix colors in proper proportion): 35 minutes
- Painting the picture: 60 minutes