Choosing What to Paint–Easel Painting with Grades 1 and 2

To become painters, children need many opportunities to explore imagery, color mixing, how paintbrushes make marks.  Easel painting allows children to carve out their own space in the hub hub of the art room.  The physicality of standing at the easel and wielding a brush loaded with color is exciting and dramatic.  With the sweep of an arm, one can alter the space.  Once the colors are mixed on the page they can be layered either wet on wet or wet on dry.  Using different sized and shaped brushes wields different effects, from dabs to broad strokes and sweeping lines of color.

What are the benefits to children in standing before the easel and wondering “What shall I paint?”

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  If I had given a specific assignment, Jaycie (grade 1) would not have imagined her ghost cat which emerged from the grey cloud of mixed colors while the background was still wet. She would not have discovered that too much mixing wields gray.

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Cali (grade 2) would have never created her Flag painting, her personal favorite from her year of art in second grade.  You can see how she layered the red and white vertical stripes over the turquoise blue and dotted the turquoise over gray.

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If I had assigned a theme, Cody (grade 1)  would have never imagined this castle of many colors.  What is inside and what is outside?

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Here is Cody’s second attempt at creating an architectural form.  Discovering how one color can sit next to another is one of the basic experiences of a painter.  Look at his color block structure with its vibrant colors, soft pastel hues, and dark shades.

All paintings 18″ x 24″ painted at the easel with liquid tempera (water-based opaque paint)

2014-2015 Lincoln School, Augusta, Maine, grade 1

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