I had something else planned but decided to go with hearts for Valentine's Day, and who better to look to than Jim Dine?
I started with a quick background into the why of pop art - how Expressionism and then Abstract Expressionism had made art into more of an elitist thing. The kids got a kick out of that and compared it to the "Emperor's New Clothes." Might be on to something there. I felt like it was a necessary background into why big paintings of everyday things would be any kind of a big deal. We flipped through some images by Warhol and Lichtenstein and then watched this short video introducing Jim Dine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7SWRa1gvfc
With the first group, we drew an outline of the heart with a black oil pastel and then experimented with wet-into-wet technique inside the heart. I love seeing kids experience the fun of that for the first time! Then we did wet-onto-dry outside the heart. It was a fun, laid-back project that they mostly enjoyed. However, next time I wouldn't use liquid watercolors because they got diluted and one student didn't like the loss of color. The same student was disappointed in the results but I tried to stress that today it was the experimenting that was more the focus, not the result. Sadly, some kids'll never buy that. Reminds me of a younger, perfectionist version of myself before painting helped loosen me up a bit!
With the second group, I decided to use this second image as our inspiration instead. We started by drawing the heart in the middle with oil pastels, trying to make it look 3-D with shadows and highlights. Then we painted the background with watercolors. I showed them how they could leave a thin line between the squares if they didn't want them to bleed into each other at all or how they could, using wet-onto-dry, allow them to brush up against each other and blend just slightly. It was fun to see the different results!