Thursday, March 3, 2011

night at the wonka factory.

That was one of my first thoughts after viewing this piece by Chicago based illustrator and designer Joe Van Wetering. 
Joe has done a number of designs for Threadless clothing. I, in fact, bought one of his designs for my wife a couple years ago. I think he has an interesting color sensibility and I like the energy that comes across in his work.

Looking through Joe's website with my 3rd graders, we discovered that he creates movement in his designs in very simple yet effective ways. He often uses simple line patterns and line directions to do it. He also does it with the types of shapes he groups together in his designs. We also noticed how he uses tints of colors to add variety to his compositions and color palette.
The night time smog scene and the waterfall design are prime examples of all these elements. One of the 3rd grade standards is to be able to identify and create movement in art. I thought a project based on one of Joe's images would be an entertaining exploration of this element. 

1. students drew out their evening cityscape at the bottom. It must have 2 layers and use overlapping and value change to distinguish the 2 layers. They have been working with these concepts on a number of projects this year.
2. students draw out their smoke cloud/s that show motion through shape design. They start by drawing the main shape and then break it into smaller wave shapes inside. They may use any of the warm or cool colors for the smoke shapes. They must make 3 shapes tints of colors.

High success rate project and a minimal cleanup project for me at the end of their 4 week rotation that dealt a lot with mixed media and collage elements. It will be nice to have a clean floor on Monday.


  1. Today was the last day of my 2nd grade rotation and we, too, did a low maintenance, easy clean-up, high interest project. I'd forgotten what it was like not to be wiping up paint between classes. What a delight to leave school with some energy left!!!!

    Your kids definitely got the motion idea!!

  2. These have a wonderful mystery about them. I like the layering of the cityscapes and of course the big impact of multi-colored smoke. Great project!

  3. Joe took some time out of his schedule to share his thoughts on the students' interpretations of his work.

    Hey Don

    This is really a great project.

    They have some great motion and layering through out there pieces. Both these elements are what makes the piece successful and they really did this well. This piece is also nothing without its use of vibrant color, and looking through all their pieces they nailed it. It was great to see one of my pieces interpreted through their eyes, and they all did an awesome job.

    Thanks again,