Color Scheme Painting: Patterns from Nature

Teacher’s Name: Nancy Sanchez

Grade & Class: 7th Grade Art-Four art classes

Number of Students: ranging in size from 10 – 27 students

Lesson/Project Name: Color Scheme Painting: Patterns from Nature

A. Pre-Reflection Goals


1. To observe students response to going outdoors briefly as part of a lesson

2. To observe how students do with photobooth and their laptops outdoors

3. To observe student’s ability to find and photo natural patterns found in the schoolyard


1. Reinforce the Principle of Pattern

2. Contrast natural patterns to manmade patterns

3. Analyze and abstract a natural pattern


1. MATERIALS: Current issue laptop which includes photobooth, 8X10 heavy weight drawing paper, tempera paints, brushes, water cups, water, newspapers, paper towels.

2. LESSON: Color Scheme Painting; Patterns from Nature

Day 1 – Review color theory; primary and secondary colors. Introduce Analogous and Complementary Color Schemes.

Day 2 – Introduce assignment. Explain the procedure to go outdoors to the school’s front yard for no more than 5- 10 minutes to take several photos of patterns found in nature; tree bark, tree branches, shrubs, dried flower seed heads, rocks, snow, clouds, etc. Make clear the quality of the photo is not important, that we won’t be using the photo, but rather using it for reference. Have students get coats, put the laptops in their cases and head out. Students explore, find, and photo any patterns they find, and return to the classroom. Pass out drawing paper. Discuss the patterns found. Students choose one pattern to work from. They analyze the pattern; noticing the elements of the pattern and their organization. Finally, using those elements, they create an original design that fills their paper, is balanced, and has at least 20 shapes. (to allow for the required 20 mixed colors) Finally students decide if they are going to use an analogous or complementary color scheme, choose the two specific colors they will use, and write them on the back of their paper.

Day 3 – Explain the classroom painting procedure. Students get their supplies and paints. They begin by experimenting with the various ways to make new colors from their pair of colors plus black and white: a tinted color, a shaded color, a mixed color, a greyed color, etc. Once they have mixed a variety of colors they begin painting.

Day 4 – Continue painting. Day 5 – Continue painting until done. The finished painting will include at least 20 new colors made from their chosen pair and will have a focal point created by using contrasting colors.


The students have not yet completed the painting, however, I believe the lesson has been very successful. Taking their laptops outdoors and using them as cameras went smoothly. Students worked independently or in groups, if they chose, to explore and find patterns. The schoolyard was familiar, yet students were, in a sense, seeing it for the first time, close up. They quickly scrambled from bushes, to ice patches, to tree bark. Keeping the time short worked well. As soon as students were ready, we came back in.

Students understood how to use their photos as the basis for a design, rather than to attempt to copy their photo in a drawing. They were able to find the basic elements and organization of their pattern; long, narrow lines which get thinner and shorter as they move away from the center organized in shallow angles, or, pointed, elongated ovals arranged around a central point, etc. Once they found those elements, they then easily created an original design using them. They seemed to understand that they had liberty to create their design to please themselves and did not hesitate or get stuck. Finding the right balance of structure and openness is key to a successful art lesson, and giving the students the freedom to find their own patterns and abstract them however they chose seemed to work well! I wonder how the brief excursion outdoors and being given permission to use technology they really like (photobooth) facilitated their ease with the assignment.

I an very pleased with the paintings that are emerging. I will definitely use this lesson again, perhaps making it part of a larger unit on nature painting, micro and macro.

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