NORTHERN LIGHTS – Colour, Contrast, Space

Students use oil pastels, black tempera paint and glitter glue to create a mixed media landscape featuring the Northern Lights.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 3

Subject

Language Arts
Science
Social Studies
Visual Arts

Vocabulary

aurora borealis colour contrast landscape negative space positive space silhouette space

Materials

Crayola Washable Tempera Paint - Black Crayola Oil Pastels - 16 count Crayola Paint Brushes Crayola Glitter Glue Crayola Construction Paper - Black - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Marker & Watercolour Pad - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm )9" x 12") Sponges Paper Towels Pencils

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Steps

NORTHERN LIGHTS – Colour, Contrast, Space - Step One

Step One

  1. Start with 2 main colours you might see in the Northern Lights, for example, green and blue.
  2. Fill your black construction paper with the colours.
  3.  Overlap colours where they meet.
NORTHERN LIGHTS – Colour, Contrast, Space - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Choose more colours that you might see in the Northern Lights, for example, yellow, violet and orange.
  2. Add colours and blend them with a sponge.
  3. As you add a colour change direction with your strokes to give the feeling of movement.
NORTHERN LIGHTS – Colour, Contrast, Space - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Make several thumbnail sketches of possible landscapes.
    - let the land fill about ⅓ of the page
    - place trees on the land in a way that moves your eye from one to the next through the whole space
    - balance the positive and negative spaces
NORTHERN LIGHTS – Colour, Contrast, Space - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Choose the idea you like the best, or combine several ideas into a new one.
  2. Use black tempera paint to paint your landscape over the oil pastel.
  3. Make sure you apply enough paint to make a solid silhouette.

 

NORTHERN LIGHTS – Colour, Contrast, Space - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Spread some glitter glue onto a plastic lid.
  2. Use a paint brush to apply a thin layer of glitter glue to add some sparkle to your sky.

 

NORTHERN LIGHTS – Colour, Contrast, Space - Step Six

Step Six

  1. When you are satisfied with your work place the picture at a short distance.
  2. View it with fresh eyes.
    - How does contrast affect the picture?
    - How do your eyes move through the picture plane? 
    - How does the picture make you feel?
    - What do you see that makes you say that?
    - What do you like best about this picture? Why?

 

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a mixed media scene that shows the Northern Lights;
  • use colour to create movement;
  • use contrast to create areas of emphasis;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

Extensions

Have students:

  • research tourism related to the Northern Lights;
  • use the Design a Brochure lesson plan available on this website to create a brochure that advertises their own imaginary Aurora Borealis tour package;
  • prepare a presentation to sell their tour package;
  • present their tour package to the class in order to persuade them to buy their tour. 

Prepare

  1. Prior to this lesson introduce and have students investigate the Northern Lights.
  2. Download and display the Contrast, Movement, Colour and Space posters available on this website.
    - review or teach the element of colour – warm/cool colours
    - review or teach the element of space – positive and negative space
    - review or teach the principle of contrast – elements placed beside each other that have strong differences
    - review or teach the principle of movement – elements arranged so that they lead the eye throughout the picture plane
  3. Gather and display a variety of picture books, for example, Aurora: A Tale of the Northern Lights, by Mindy Dwyer; The Inuksuk Book, by Mary Wallace; Northern Lights: the Soccer Trails, by Michael Kusugak; SkySisters, by Bourdeau Waboose; Northern Lights: The Science, Myth, and Wonder of Aurora Borealis, by Calvin Hall, and Daryl Pederson; and Auroras: Fire in the Sky, by Dan Bortolotti.
  4. Download images of the Aurora Borealis from the Internet, for example,
    Canada 
    Canada2
    Alberta
    Ontario
    Yukon
  5. Place students into small groups so they can share materials.

 

 

Introduction

  1. View several images of the Aurora Borealis and create a chart list of their characteristics, asking students to think of ways to describe them to someone who cannot see them, e.g.,
    - beautiful
    - brilliant
    - blue-green
    - shimmering
    - luminous
    - multi-coloured
    - dreamlike
    - dazzling
    - celestial
  2. Demonstrate how to blend oil pastels so they cover the paper, and change direction to give the feeling of movement.
  3. Introduce the challenge.

Activities

The Challenge

  1. Create a mixed media scene that shows the Northern Lights.
  2. Use blended colour and change of direction to create movement.
  3. Use contrast to create areas of emphasis.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    ​- blended the colours 
    - covered the whole paper with lots of colour
    - changed the direction of colours to show movement
    - created emphasis with contrasting shapes 
    - created a sky that looks like the Northern Lights
    - kept the paper in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.

Sharing

  1. Once all the pictures are complete display them for a group discussion. 
    Look closely at the pictures.
    - Choose one that interests you for some reason.
    - Share thoughts about the work.
  2. During the discussion include references to:
    - How does contrast affect the picture?
    - How do your eyes move through the picture plane? Why?
    - How does the picture make you feel? – What do you see that makes you say that?
    - What do you like best about this picture? Why?

    - How does the condition of the paper affect the finished work?

Assessment

  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss the pictures – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the picture, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - NorthernLights_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - NorthernLights_self-assessment.pdf)