A New Way to Look At Color

Classroom Concepts: Science – Color

Language Arts – Vocabulary, Literature, Social Studies – Famous Women

Art Concepts: Art History – Mary Blaire

Elements of Art – Color, Art Careers – Commercial Art (Illustration)


I recently discovered a new book about Mary Blair entitled, Pocket Full Of Colors by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville. I have talked about Mary Blair before here and here. If you don’t know who Mary Blair is, she was one of the first women illustrators for Walt Disney.

I love Blair’s work. So naturally, I bought the book to give as a Christmas gift. I was not disappointed. It was even more than I expected. It’s not just a biography. It’s so much more. The book is centered around color. Young Mary collects and saves colors to be used later on in life. It is also marvelous that the colors mentioned are not your plain ole red, yellow, blue, etc. They are russet, azure, veridian, etc. I also love how the illustrations by Brigette Barrager echo Mary Blair’s work in both color and style.

I can see this book used to reinforce a color unit, a women’s history unit, to help students beef up their vocabulary or all of the above. So check it out. I’m sure glad I did.

If you love the Mary Blair’s work, you might enjoy the recently rereleased books by Disney illustrated by her, Cinderella by Cynthia Rylant and Alice in Wonderland by Jon Scieszka.

I’d love to hear how you teach color in your classroom. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!

Back to Basics

Possible Classroom Concepts: Mathematics – Number Recognition, Number Sets

Language Arts – Poetry, Storytelling, Writing, Fairy Tales

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Charles Demuth, Jasper Johns, Robert Indiana, Paul Gauguin, Horace Pippin, Paul Cezanne

Portrait, Media – Paintings, Sculpture

Principles of Art – Repetition, Perspective, Rhythm

With everyone going back to school, I thought it might be nice to go back to basics, specifically math basics. I’ve discussed some basic geometry skills in the past here, here, here, and here. However, artists also use numbers in their artwork.


Charles Demuth’s “I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold”

Some artists will use the number itself in their work. Probably the most recognized number painting is Charles Demuth’s “I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold”. For primary teachers, this painting could be used to find and count all the fives in the painting, but this painting is so much more. This painting is actually a portrait of William Carlos Williams and his poem about a passing firetruck entitled “The Great Figure”.  Intermediate level teachers could use this painting in a poetry unit. Find some lessons including this painting here, here and here. Jasper Johns and Robert Indiana have also created artworks which include numbers. I love how Robert Indiana talks about numbers here. In an introduction or review of numbers, you might ask your students where they use numbers every day and then share Indiana’s thoughts. Indiana, like Demuth, uses symbolism in his number masterpieces.  Find Indiana’s  symbolism explained  here . Also, find a video explanation here.  Students could then hand draw or trace a number between 0 and 9 which has meaning for them. I love the way that the numbers are made (emulating the textures Johns would use) and science is incorporated in The Nurture Store’s   STEAM number lesson. After your students have completed their number creations, check out the extentions portion of Robin Ward’s lesson found here to see how to use them.  Jasper Johns also overlaps numbers in his work entitled 0 Through 9. I love how Art With Jenny K. incorporates a short bio of Jasper Johns and Robert Indiana, and incorporates overlapped numbers in this lesson.

Paul Gauguin’s “Still Life withThreePuppies”,  Horace Pippin’s “Interior, 1944”

Artists also incorporate sets of numbers in their works of art. Paul Gauguin and Horace Pippin seem to like to work in sets of three in the above paintings. You could ask the students to find the sets of three found in these paintings. I found three puppies, three goblets with three apples and three sections of the painting (the puppies, the goblets and the still life). Can you find any others? Pippin includes three people, three rugs, and three holes in the wall in his “Interior” painting. Find an NGA Language Arts and Math lesson about this painting here. I love how the lesson talks about magic numbers. There are also magic numbers in fairy tales. Paul Cezanne’s ” Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses”  can also be used in a number sets unit. Cezanne has arranged the apples in varied numbered clusters on the table. How many number sets of apples can the students identify? Which set is used the most? Could the students make a graph of the different number sets? I found four sets of one, two sets of two, two sets of three, one set of four and one set of five. Find an interactive site about Paul Cezanne and his apples here. In the story, “An Apple a Day” found on the site, how many days did it take for Cezanne to complete the “Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses” ?

So, if you are tired of using worksheets to teach numbers and number sets, why not turn to some paintings for help? I’d love to hear how you teach number recognition and number sets. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!