Saturday, April 23, 2016

success with Santos.

This week some of my 3rd grade classes have been checking out the work of  Santos Leonel Orellana Paz. He goes by Santos. I share that he is originally from Honduras, he found his way out to San Diego County via the bio-tech industry after earning a degree in chemistry.

He believes that the most important thing for the success of children is education. This belief led to his creating the Alfabetismo collection of paintings. A series of 26 paintings that focused on one letter of the alphabet at a time. The students and I went through a number of these, looking to find the letter that was camouflaged in an abstract network of lines and color fields in the background.

This lesson was their introduction to watercolor painting technique this year. Their painting would serve as the background to a line drawing of a word that they felt was important to the success of a child in life. We talked about how this was different to Santos' series because they would be using a whole word instead of a single letter in their image. 

When we started painting, I modeled using more or less water to create different color values and then they created their color fields.

The next part of the process was to brainstorm a short list of things they felt were important to their success. They then sketched out a couple concepts- just the word first and then they added other lines and details to hide the word a bit more and to flesh out their compositions. 

When they had a sketch they were satisfied with, they drew it out lightly with black crayon over top of their painting, added supporting lines, and made those lines bold and strong to emphasize them from the background. (With this step, you want to make sure there is enough time between finishing the painted background. If the paper is too wet, it can tear or the crayon won't apply as cleanly. A hair dryer could be used for those pieces.)

The final part of the project was to explain WHY they chose that particular word. Why did they think that particular things was important. 

"Sleep" is important because it is needed for your health.

"Confidence" is important because you need to have good thoughts
about yourself to do good things.

Santos is actually opening a new gallery of his artwork in La Jolla this weekend. If any readers are local, you should swing by to check out his work!


  1. this reminds me of what my Kinder and 1st grad students are starting this week. Our curriculum has us reviewing line, shape, color, texture, and form. We are going in a slightly different route, but are using one letter, oil pastel resist, and water colors. My focus is to develop an understanding of unity, variety, and composition. I may have to share the works you posted by Santos, just to show them an artist working similar to themselves. Always exciting to read one of your posts. Thanks for sharing.
    Jack Fleming