Wednesday, September 3, 2014

An Art Lesson About The Sea

 The Great Wave Off Kanagawa

Hokusai's picture of The Great Wave is the inspiration for this water color lesson. It is a wood block print created in the mid 1800's that depicts an enormous, foaming wave threatening some Japanese fishing boats. You can see Mount Fuji rising in the distant background.

A lot of ideas can be discussed with this print. Here are a few that I tackle when I introduce this lesson.

Ying and Yang

The idea of the Asian spirituality of ying/yang is discussed- the all powerful, brutality of the sea contrasted with the men in the boat surrendering to the power and 'going with the flow.'  You won't be sorry discussing this. You can get a lot of insightful comments from the kids during this discussion.


We then discuss the perspective of the land/seascape print.  The serenity of Mount Fuji, which is seen in the background, is being dwarfed by the gigantic, powerful wave in the foreground.

Warm and Cool Colors

The kids are expected to paint the background in warm colors. Here is where I let them experiment. They get to combine two warm colors together of their choice to come up with their own sky color. 'The wave'  is painted in a variety of cool colors. 


After they have painted they need to use Sharpies to draw patterns in the wave. They are expected to create 4-5 patterns repeating lines and shapes, as they create their own patterns.

What do you think of these watercolors? Have you taught a lesson on The Great Wave? I'd love to hear about it. You can comment below.

Ps. Hey, do you want to see more about  Japanese  art and culture you can
 check it out another post here.

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