INSPIRED BY BERTRAM BROOKER – Canadian Artist, Abstract Art

Students use watercolour paints and watercolour pencils to create an abstract design of their name.

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 4 to Grade 8

Subject

Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts

Vocabulary

abstract art analogous colours colour scheme contrast crayon resist space

Materials

Watercolour Paints Watercolour Pencils Watercolour Paper 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Masking Tape (Green) Crayons - Regular (Not Washable) - White Plastic Placemats Water Containers Table Salt Paper Towels

Steps

INSPIRED BY BERTRAM BROOKER – Canadian Artist, Abstract Art - Step One

Step One

  1. Carefully tape a piece of watercolour paper to a plastic placemat.
  2. Be sure to put tape on all 4 sides of the paper.
INSPIRED BY BERTRAM BROOKER – Canadian Artist, Abstract Art - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Use a regular white crayon (NOT washable) to draw your name on the paper.
  2. Press hard, and make your name large so it stands out.
  3. Fill the rest of the paper with an abstract design using shapes and lines.
INSPIRED BY BERTRAM BROOKER – Canadian Artist, Abstract Art - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Before starting to paint drop a small amount of water into each colour you plan to use.
INSPIRED BY BERTRAM BROOKER – Canadian Artist, Abstract Art - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Use a spray bottle or damp sponge to wet the whole paper.
INSPIRED BY BERTRAM BROOKER – Canadian Artist, Abstract Art - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Paint over the whole paper.
  2. Choose several colours and let them bleed into each other.
INSPIRED BY BERTRAM BROOKER – Canadian Artist, Abstract Art - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Sprinkle some salt on one section of the paper while the paint is still wet.
  2. Set the paper aside to dry.
INSPIRED BY BERTRAM BROOKER – Canadian Artist, Abstract Art - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Choose a watercolour pencil and draw around one of the letters in your name.
INSPIRED BY BERTRAM BROOKER – Canadian Artist, Abstract Art - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Dip your paintbrush into a container of clean water.
  2. Squeeze off any extra water.
  3. Paint the water over the areas you just coloured with watercolour pencil.
INSPIRED BY BERTRAM BROOKER – Canadian Artist, Abstract Art - Step Nine

Step Nine

  1. Continue adding more colours and designs with watercolour pencil as you work your way through the painting. 
  2. Add water to turn the watercolour pencil into paint.
  3. From time to time view the painting from a distance to see how your eye moves through the composition.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • use watercolour techniques to create an abstract design that includes their name;
  • use placement of objects to create areas of emphasis;
  • use contrast to create the illusion of depth;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity;
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.

Extensions

Have students:

  • interview their parents about their choice of names;
  • create a picture book of their naming story using the name design as a cover;
  • work in small teams to create displays of groups of books as if they are being sold in a bookstore;
  • organize an author reading event to share their books with others.

Prepare

  1. Prepare a short story about your own name to use as an example. 
  2. Gather and make available some books about names, for example, The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi; Naming Ceremonies, by Mandy Ross; My Name Is Yoon, by Helen Recorvits; and 100,000+ Baby Names: The Most Complete, and Fascinating, and Helpful Name Book You Can Find, by Bruce Lansky.
  3. Download and display the Contrast and Emphasis posters available on this website.
    Posters
  4. Download the images of Bertram Brooker's painting, Sounds Assembling, 1928, and Wassily Kandinsky's, Yellow, Red, Blue, (1925) from the Internet.
    Bertram Brooker
    Wassily Kandinsky
  5. You may want to make a painting sample that is partially complete. 

Introduction

  1. Ask students to work in small groups. Invite them to take turns telling a story about their name.
  2. Prompt their thinking by posing some questions. For example, 
    How did you get your name?
    Do you like your name? What would you have called yourself if not the name you were given?
    Are you named after anyone?
    What does your name mean?
  3. Provide a short example by telling about your own name.
  4. Once students have shared their stories in small groups, ask for a few volunteers to share their story with the whole class. 
  5. View and discuss the paintings, Sounds Assembling, and Yellow, Red, Blue without sharing the titles.
  6. Introduce the artist Bertram Brooker, and share a few points about him:
    - born in England in 1888, came to Canada in 1905
    - the first Canadian artist to exhibit abstract paintings (1927)
    - Brooker added perspective to his abstract compositions
    - he was also a writer, his first novel won the Governor General’s Medal for the best Canadian novel of the year in 1936
    - he was influenced by Wassily Kandinsky
  7. Introduce the artist Wassily Kandinsky, and share a few points about him:
    - born in 1866
    - Russian artist
    - had a special gift called synaesthesia cognate - a condition that meant when he heard a sound he also saw a particular colour
    - he used colours and shapes in his abstract paintings to express feelings and music
    - he painted the first non objective painting called the First Abstract Watercolour, 1910
    - he thought each shape created specific feelings – square caused calm feelings; triangle caused aggressive feelings; circle caused heavenly feelings
  8. Ask students to think about how they could use the abstract style to express feelings about themselves.
  9. Introduce the challenge.

Activities

The Challenge

  1. Use watercolour techniques to create an abstract design that includes your name.
  2. Use placement of objects to create areas of emphasis.
  3. Use contrast to create the illusion of depth.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    - watercolour wash includes several colours
    - salt is used to emphasize one area of the painting
    - watercolour pencil techniques add emphasis to the crayon shapes and lines
    - lettering is big and carefully designed
    - paper is in good condition
  3. Encourage students to think about how they can use colours, lines and shapes to communicate their emotions.
  4. Discuss how the placement of objects in a design can create areas of interest and emphasis. Ask them to think about what they want to emphasize in their design.
  5. Discuss and demonstrate how adding colour to some parts of letters and shapes with watercolour pencils can create the illusion of depth.  
  6. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  7. Observe students as they work. 
  8. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.

Sharing

  1. When all the paintings are complete ask students to take turns sharing their work in small groups. Have students first tell what they think the painting design is communicating about the artist. Remind them to support their ideas with evidence found in the work. Ask them, "What do you see that makes you say that?" 
  2. Once students have said what they think, have the artist say what he/she intended. 
  3. During the discussion include references to:
    ​- placement – How has the placement of different shapes and symbols been used to create areas of emphasis? What message does this communicate?
    - space – How has the use of watercolour pencil added to the sense of space?
    - creativity – How does the design reflect the uniqueness of the artist?
  4. When all the groups have finished sharing, have students do a walk about to view all the paintings in the class. 
  5. Ask a few volunteers to share what they learned.
  6. Display the paintings in the classroom for several weeks.

Assessment

  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their paintings – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – AmazingNames_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – AmazingNames_self-assessment.pdf)