Rocks and Soil (2nd grade) session 5 & 6: Painting the rocks

Arts Integration Residency with Montalvo Arts Center in Campbell, CA.

Part One

One by one the students washed the rocks they brought back at the end of the last session, from the place at school which is non-constructed and not landscaped. All the rocks have interesting shapes and after washing them the students could see that the rocks have interesting colors too.
Meanwhile the other students started a drawing of their rock(s).

Then I gave them a short demo about how to find different shades of tan/brownish colors, starting with a palette of blue/red/yellow [in each class one or two students knew about the primary colors)] and white. I added some black to help them make very dark greys. I also showed them how to try to follow the contour they traced with the pencil, so that once painted we can still see the interesting shape of the rock – that’s the most difficult part!


The session was about observing closely the rocks and mixing little by little the paint to match the colors with the colors of the rocks. The students had a lot of fun mixing but were concentrated enough to get beautiful and different shades of grey-browns.
At the end of the class, the rocks have been put in lunch bags with the names of the students and will be re-used during the next session.
This week we talked a lot about colors and shades/tints. Next week we need to make a stronger link with the students’ sciences studies (can we identify the rocks found at school and tell if they are metamorphic, igneous or sedimentary?).

Some of the students are becoming attached to their rocks and have asked if they can bring them to their home!

Part Two

This session is about mixing colors and get the closest possible to the colors of the rock(s).

I gave a short demo, showing how the first drawing can disappear under the paint, the paint was not necessarily controlled and it is OK, but it is always possible to draw over the paint and change the shape again. The motto for this session was – do not follow what the brush did, you can change it the shape again.
And then, if they wanted to, the students could paint in white parts of the painting they did not want to be visible. That part was tricky because the students had a tendency to cover with the white the drawing they had just made, loosing their nice tracing again. But it does not matter, what I wanted to show them is a layering technique where things can always be changed. For the 6 classes, I had to prepare different steps for my short demo, so that they saw me doing what I was explaining. But I needed 3 steps for each class, 18 paintings of a rock at different stages.