Wednesday, October 9, 2013


This is the first week I have gotten to work with the 5th graders since our mini collaborative lesson the first week of school. It's been a great week:)

I am sharing the work of Canadian artist Tamara Phillips with them as we look at how line can create shapes, unity, and movement. Tamara makes wonderful watercolor paintings of natural shapes. Many of her paintings focus on marine life. My favorite paintings of hers are her jellyfish. I love how she captures their shape and sense of floating motion. We have the Birch Aquarium in San Diego and they have a great jellyfish exhibit. Many of our students have been there as well, so it's cool to do a project that ties in with the aquarium and the Pacific Ocean.

While looking at Tamara's paintings, we talk about how she uses contour lines to make the jelly shapes, how her uses of wavy lines creates both a sense of motion and unity, and how her use of a limited color palette creates unity as well.

Before we start drawing out our jellies I share the exit slip students need to turn in when they are done painting. They need to answer how Tamara's work is similar and how it is different to their painting in at least 2 complete sentences. I want them to have this in their head as they are working.

We draw them out together, pressing softly with the pencil, so that it doesn't show up in areas where 2 light colors meet. I show them how the direction of their jelly body and tentacles will tell us where the jelly is moving from and where it is moving to. We trace certain parts with sharpie markers to get them to stand out a bit more.

Before painting I ask students to decide what color family they will use to paint- warm, cool, or 2 primaries plus the secondary they make. We then start with one of those colors for the body of the jelly. I demonstrate making a color lighter by using mostly water. We continue to add water to the body and tentacles. I demonstrate how to keep parts bleeding into one another by starting away from wet parts.

When we paint the background I go back to one of Tamara's paintings and show the students how she lets colors bleed together in the background and I then demonstrate painting wet next to wet and on wet.

The students are doing a terrific job with this project. Lots of variety in color. They are also doing a great job communicating similarities and differences between their work and Tamara's.


  1. These are Great! They really captured the sense of movement!

    1. I agree!! I especially like the pieces where kids managed to get darks and lights also.

  2. Beautiful paintings! The white dots on the tentacles add a lot to the luminosity of the jellyfish.

  3. Wonderful art! A writer will be notified that they have a message from you, read it, and reply shortly. On, communication with assigned high school, university, and college paper writers is 100% free.