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Using Color like Andy Warhol (C3W4)

In week 4 of our homeschool community we’ll be doing an abstract art project. Did you know some of the earliest examples of abstract art we know of are from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) in China? Of course, in the western world, abstract art really gained traction in response to the realism of the Classical period of the arts. Artists rebelled against the preciseness of the Classical period of the arts and Romanticism was born (late 1700s to mid 1800s). The move towards focusing on feelings over accuracy continued in the Impressionist (late 1800s) and Expressionist (early 1900s) movements. All of these movements influenced what we now call Pop Art. Check out this great timeline for a broader look at art through the ages!

Pop Art

Pop art is considered abstract art, but is quite different from some other forms of abstract art! Our Classical Conversations community will study Pop Art more in week 17 of cycle 3, when we study Roy Lichtenstein, so during this week, we’ll only do a short introduction just introduce to Pop Art and focus on exploring color theory instead.

Color Theory

A full study of color theory includes the color wheel, color harmony, the context of color, the effect of color on the human mind, and more. Art students often take whole classes focusing entirely on color theory! So, instead of trying to dive deep into the concepts included in color theory, we’ll skim the surface to expose our students to the idea that colors really do have an impact on art.

For example, look at these three versions of “America in Color.” Ask yourself, what feelings and emotions does each bring up? What might you subtitle each of these? Perhaps something like “America in Harmony with Nature,” “America the Bold,” “America’s Gone Crazy?” By changing only the color, I’ve changed the whole feeling of the artwork!

Example of the effects of color

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol is a great artist to study when thinking about colors and how they influence the feel of a piece of art. Also, since Warhol is an American artist, it makes sense for us to study him this year as we study American history and geography. Most of Warhol’s art is still under copyright because he has been deceased for less than 70 years. So you’ll probably want to pick up a book about him if you want to show your students samples of his art. Warhol was a rather eccentric guy, so be sure to pre-screen any books you pick up about Andy Warhol. I read through quite a few and this one is my favorite: Andy Warhol; Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists. It’s kid-safe (no nudity, profanity or awkward topics!), includes some of Warhol’s artwork, talks a bit about the genre of Pop Art, and lets you get to know a bit of Warhol’s life story.

Using Color Like Andy Warhol Art Project

We will be making an image grid and coloring it in a way that creates our desired feeling and emotions. Warhol is famous for this type of repeating image grid. For example, he created this one of Marilyn Monroe and this one of the dollar sign. He also did a series of Campbell’s soup cans, which you’ll frequently see pictured together in a grid. Our students can either start with a pre-drawn image grid and focus on the coloring or they can draw their own image grid and then color it.

This art project has several purposes:

  • it gives another example of abstract art
  • it helps students see outside the typical drawing/painting box when it comes to art
  • it gives the students an opportunity to think more about the interactions between art and culture
  • it exposes students to color theory and the role that color plays in art
  • it acquaints students with Andy Warhol and the many pieces of art that are now created in his style

Using Color Like Andy Warhol Lesson Plan

You can purchase the Using Color Like Andy Warhol Lesson Plan here. This 10 page lesson plan includes the following:

  • A condensed background on the artist
  • An introduction to Color Theory
  • References to additional resources
  • 3 printable pictures of my original artwork demonstrating the effects of color
  • A carefully crafted sentence about Andy Warhol (ideal for memorization)
  • Vocabulary words and definitions
  • Materials list
  • Detailed Art Project instructions
  • Options for scaling the project to different experience levels
  • Four image grids with a varying level of detail between the images

Abstract Art Lesson Plan

Are you wondering what the rest of our Classical Conversations drawing art projects look like for cycle 3? Here they are! I’m making them available at a discount in the All American Drawing Package, or you can buy each separately:

  1. Drawing Basic Shapes with American Landmarks Lesson Plan
  2. Drawing the U.S. Capitol Building using Symmetry Lesson Plan
  3. Drawing Upside Down Ships Lesson Plan
  4. Using Color like Andy Warhol Lesson Plan
  5. Tricking the Eye with Op Art Lesson Plan
  6. Making a Statement with Grant Wood’s American Gothic Lesson Plan

You can see what our art projects for the first six weeks of last year (CC, cycle 2) looked like here.

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