As a class, talk about lines. Explain that lines can be straight, diagonal, curvy, zig-zag, spiral, dotted, thick and thin. Have students stand up and make those different lines with their bodies.
On a piece of paper, demonstrate how to draw different kinds of lines with oil pastels. Explain that oil pastels are like crayons but that they are softer and break easier. Give students a scratch piece of paper and time to experiment with oil pastels by making different kinds of marks.
When students are finished drawing, talk about shapes. Explain that shapes are made when lines come around and connect with themselves. Have students stand up and make a line with their arms. Then have them connect the line by touching their fingertips together. Have them try to make circles, triangles, or other shapes with their body.
Demonstrate how to draw shapes with oil pastels on a piece of paper. Include circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, and hexagons, identifying the shapes together as a class while drawing them. Explain that these shapes are called geometric shapes and that most geometric shapes have straight lines, perfectly curved lines, or are usually measured out very carefully.
Describe that organic lines are different because they are irregular. Show some examples. Give students a second piece of scratch paper and have them draw geometric and organic shapes on their paper. Make sure they draw at least one geometric shape and one organic shape.
Demonstrate how to color inside the shapes with oil pastels. Encourage students to fill in any white spaces in order to make a solid color.
Show how to color large areas of paper by holding a broken piece of oil pastel on its side and rubbing it back and forth.
Demonstrate how to smooth out the texture by using a paper towel.
Show students how to layer different colors of oil pastels on top of each other.
The oil pastels themselves often become dirty with layers of other colors. Teach students how to clean the oil pastels by drawing on a paper towel to remove the unwanted color.
Have students practice these various coloring techniques by coloring in the shapes that they drew. Make sure they try all of the techniques on their paper.
Make paint spots and smudges on drawing paper. Make sure there is at least one piece of paper per student. Allow time to dry.
Teacher: Have you ever messed up on an art project before? How do you feel when you make mistakes? It is normal to feel frustrated or disappointed when we mess up, but it is so important to not give up because there are so many wonderful things that can happen when we work with our mistakes in a creative way. This book shows examples of different mistakes that happen in art. Pay attention to what the artist did to fix each mistake.
Read the book Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg to the class.
Optional Activity: Have a puppet talk to the class about how they are sad because they made a lot of mistakes while painting.
Puppet: I was painting and I accidentally dripped some paint onto my paper where I didn’t want it. I tried again on another paper and I messed up again, and again, again! Now I have a bunch papers with drips and smudges all over them! I want to give up and throw all of my paintings away!
Teacher: Now wait a minute, you don’t have to throw these away. We just read a book about turning mistakes into something beautiful. Class, would you like to make art out of these mistakes and show our friend how we can turn an “oops” into something better?
Show the class one of the paint-smeared papers. Invite students to use their imagination and find familiar shapes or forms. Call on students to share with the class what kind of potential they see in the shape. Make sure a variety of ideas have been shared before moving on.
Choose one of the ideas and demonstrate to the class how oil pastels can be used to add to the shape and expand it into something new. Emphasize the importance of adding as many details as possible to their artwork. Talk about the space around the paint blot and the importance of using all of the space on the paper.
Hand out oil pastels and paint-smeared papers to students and have them create their own artwork.
At the end of class, spread out all of the completed artwork so that the whole class can view them. Have students take turns explaining their work by pointing out where the original “oops” was and how they made it into something beautiful. If you used a puppet at the beginning, you can have the students show their artwork to the puppet and explain what they did. Kids love this! If your class is short on time, you can have the students divide into small groups and take turns talking about their “oops” and what they did to change it. At the end, ask students to think about the following questions.
This lesson can be used to meet standards in many grades and subject areas. We will highlight one grade’s standards to give an example of application.
Images 1-15: Rachel Gonthier