Last week in art class we looked at the work of the influential Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky.
The primary objective of the project was to give the students experience mixing colors to get secondary colors, shades and tints. Secondary colors (orange, purple, green) are made of two primary colors. Shades are colors mixed with black. Tints are colors mixed with white. Also, it helps build brush skills by learning to keep the bristles in the same direction and never scrub paint on.
We used big paper (at least it seems huge to a 5 year old), 24" X 18.5". Many of the students have access to art materials at home but I like to provide materials that even experienced students are not likely to have at home. Big paper encourages kids to work their whole arm when making marks and not see their work as quite so delicate and precious.
To do this at home any size paper is fine. Start by folding the paper in half one direction. Fold it in half the other direction. Open the paper up and you will have 4 equal sections. Now fold just the top half down to the center fold. Open it up and fold the sides in to the center line but only crease above the center fold. When you're done you'll have 8 small rectangles and 2 large rectangles.
Now the students want to fill each of the cells they created with paint. Start with a small circle inside one of the rectangles. Pick up different colored paint with the brush and go around the first circle. Continue doing that until there's no room for any more circles (it will be a bullseye) and then paint the remaining rectangle. It's not necessary to clean the brush because it's about experimenting with color.
If you'd like more info on Kandinsky, the Guggenheim has a brief bio on Kandinsky here. If you do a collection search, they have over a dozen works online. Bauhaus Online has more information about the Bauhaus and Kandinsky's contribution here.
For older students, Kandinsky's writings about art are very interesting.