Abstract Flora

STEAM & Science of Color 

In teaching color I found it interesting to incorporate the science behind how color is seen and perceived. This easy ties in with physics and anatomy when topics like the electromagnetic spectrum and the break down of vision is explained. 

So in a break down from the research I did, light receptors within the eye transmit messages to the brain, which produces the familiar sensations of seeing colors. These colors are the product of the electromagnetic spectrum (or visible light spectrum),  electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has a wavelength in the range of about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm – between the invisible infrared, with longer wavelengths, and the invisible ultraviolet, with shorter wavelengths, when these light wave bounce off of objects the color we see is the color reflected by that object. 

The Project 


In theory you could combine this information of how we see color into any project, however I choose to incorporate this information into a project I call "abstract flora." On a sunny day the class and I walked around the building (outside) to the schools greenhouse to photograph the foliage and floral arrangements that have been grown and managed by the horticulture class. This past time I took my art 1 classes during the spring plant sale. Most students took the images with their phone and uploaded it to the sections google classroom page, however I do have two class cameras that were shared by the students without a phone. 

What you Will Need

  • oil or chalk pastels 

  • paper for mixed media 

  • sketchbook 

  • pencil 

How To!

  1. After introducing how color is seen and perceived, spend a day outside allowing the students to photograph their own flora images.  
  2. I combine this lesson with an introduction to the artist Georgia O'Keeffe and how she abstracted her flowers by cropping and perspective shift. She was a 20th century female artist and is considered the "mother of modernism"  best known for her boldly colored abstracted paintings of flowers. 
  3. practice with the medium on a small colored paper that can be sealed and pasted into the sketchbook. 
  4. provide sketches of the planned final product 

Student Examples

Mandala Color Wheels

I got this idea from another educator, ahh the glories of collaborating! I wanted to share this because It is a great way to add some multi-cultural flavor to a boring color wheel activity. Although it is a requirement to teach the color wheel, there is no reason it can't be fun and incorporate other cultures and religions. 

The word Mandala comes from ancient sanskrit text meaning "container of essence." The mandalas were radial, geometric, and organic designs that were meant to represent life and its constant cycle between earth and the self. Mandalas date back over 2000 years in the Hindu and Buddhist religions, however the motif can also be seen later in the Christian rose windows. If you would like to do more reading on the topic I found this site very informative https://www.ancient.eu/mandala/ I also used this youtube video as a resource to show to my class so they could see that mandalas are often impermanent.

What you will Need

  • Tempera paint (red, yellow, blue, white, black)
  • Paint Brushes
  • Paint pallet 
  • 12x12 inch white paper 
  • wax/transfer paper
  • pencil
  • sketchbook 
  • prtractor
  • compass

How To

First measure to the middle of the 12x12 paper and draw a 10 inch circle at the center. The using the protractor measure every 30 degrees. This will make 12 section for (Red, Red-Orange, Orange, Yellow-Orange, Yellow, Yellow-Green, Green, Blue-Green, Blue, Blue-Violet, Violet, Red-Violet. I recommend having students able each section to avoid confusion once painting starts later on. 

As a sketchbook assignment I had students design their 30 degree mandala "pizza slice" before hand. These designs had to be symmetrical and include four section for pure color, tone, tint and shade. Once the create a slice they liked they were instructed to transfer the design onto the wax paper. Once the design was on wax paper they transferred the same design 12 times to it created a radial symmetrical  Mandala.

Student Examples