I start the activity by sharing two murals that Brad has done that are similar in subject, symmetry, and use of color value gradations. We spend a few minutes identifying these elements and talking about what these works remind us of- what the students see in them.
To start the hands on activity, the students and I create a small sketch inspired by these two paintings. I want them to see how they can break up the picture plane to create a design that emphasizes symmetry and repetition. We start with the eye form and then add matching lines to the top, bottom, left, and right of the eye. The point of this is for them to see how they can start with simple large shapes to set up the compositional framework. Then, I encourage them to add more lines to give their sketch more detail.
Once that sketch is complete, students create a second sketch that starts with a shape of their choosing. They break up the picture plane in a similar fashion to the first one.
To create the bold contour lines, students may trace their pencil lines with a crayon, chisel tip sharpie, or fine tip sharpie- or a combo a couple/all of them, depending on the detail present in their drawing.
When students move on to the painting step, I demo creating light and dark values by adjusting the amount of water used with the tempera cakes that we are using. Each student gets a scrap of watercolor paper to test out colors while they are working. Students choose a brush to start with- large, medium, or small. If they need to change brush size, they are responsible for cleaning the brush in the sink, putting it back if the right bin, and getting a different size brush. They are also responsible for changing the water in the cups that they are sharing with their paint tray team.
I want them to really think about that. How did they solve that problem?