Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Circle Painting

I walked out of school yesterday feeling like I was on cloud nine.  It wasn't just one thing.  Everything just seemed to fall into place.  Amazing when that happens.  I'm really excited to share a piece of my joy with you...this project.  It was definitely a BIG part of that feel-good feeling.  The idea is derived from Hiep Nguyen's website:  Check it out, all the details about his project are there, along with lots of great artwork and videos.
If you're looking for a great way to explore shape, symmetry, non objective art, and radial design with kids this project has got it covered.   I got a five star rating from kids, plus it's just plain fun.  Here's what we did.
First we watched this....
The kids got it immediately.  Start with a circle in the center and grow a design outwards by adding more circles.  Move around the design and add details to the work that's already there.  
To start we covered the table with a large sheet of paper.  Paint was poured, one color per student each in its own cup.  Each kid got a brush.  To be fair, we counted out around the circle.  Number one started us off by drawing a circle in the middle of the paper.  As he was finishing up, number two added their circle close to, or adjoining the first.  Number three and four joined came in as one and two went out.  Then five and six.  The kids painted from the center outwards.  As the design grows there are more and more places to join in.  After a few minutes everyone was happily painting away.
The amazing thing was the way in which the students worked.  Absolute cooperation.  Absolute focus.  Absolute bliss.
Kids left saying it was the best art class ever.  They told all their friends how much the love circle painting.  They are begging for more next week.
My focus next week is on shape as an element of art and on radial symmetry.  We'll be playing around with this a little and then do another circle painting.
Oops!  Almost forgot to give credit where it's due.  I found this wonderful video and website through Snippety Gibbets Video Site.  Lots great resources here! Check it out


  1. Thanks for the shout out, Barb. The paintings are so cool! jan

  2. This is fascinating. I have got to figure out how I can show the kids this video (we don't have YouTube access at school -- but I think there is a way) I would like to have a group do this focusing on balance of color in the whole work. If, in each group only one child has each color, they would have to move around (in and out of different parts of the circle) to achieve color balance in the whole work. Your results are lovely!!!

  3. This is so cool. I've seen a video before, but wouldn't want to have to pay for it when we can do it ourselves.

    By the way - I'm in Glens Falls - and "doing lunch" sometime sounds like a fine idea!

  4. Love It! We do something like this and the results are always fantastic! Sometimes the simplest projects are the best! :)

  5. Well, I'm inspired! Thanks for posting this Barbara.I'd love to do a collaborative piece like this.

  6. Thanks for all your kind comments, friends!
    We are able to access YouTube at my schools, but I heard a similar discussion on another blog and know there's a way to download the videos to your computer. There are free downloaders available on-line. My it.
    The kids had only one color paint, but they were free (and encouraged) to move around the table. I had a couple extra cups of paint for my second group, and they switched out a bit, but honestly, it became a bit of a distraction.
    Phyl! Glens Falls! That's great. I lived in Washington County for a short while when I returned from Peace Corps and am somewhat familiar with that neck of the woods. Perhaps during Christmas break. I would love to meet you "in person".

  7. Me again... Christmas break - I'm in!
    A quick word of explanation about my comment about "paying for it". I saw a DIFFERENT video (maybe it's at a link I didn't check) that was about a program you paid to bring to your school. Obviously (from your experience) we can do this ourselves!

    I've had a similar experience doing Pollock paintings with my 4th graders. The kids splattered and painted and worked as teams, skipping merrily around their tables as they splashed and dripped, and there wasn't a word of complaint about the 20 minutes of art time we had to devote to cleaning up!

  8. Phyl, I'm so excited that you're interested in doing this! I can't wait.

    You're a brave sole to host a whole class splatter paint. Maybe I'll have to try it. I usually put kids off by telling them "when the weather is warmer we'll do that", then pray they'll forget about it. Ditto when my older kids ask for finger painting...(I'm always thinking, please....I don't want to clean all that up).

  9. I can't wait to try this. I am always looking for ways my special needs students can collaborate on something. Thanks for sharing this wonderful idea.

  10. Hi Barbara,

    Just wanted to say thank you. I did the 'Circle Painting' with my year 5 students as a special treat. They absolutely loved it and really got the hang of it.


    Melbourne, Australia

  11. Oh that is fabulous, Anna. I'm thrilled share this little bit of joy with you and your students. Best wishes in all your endeavors.

  12. This is awesome. I can't wait to try it! The kids will LOVE the video too!

  13. I was reading back through your blog and AHA! I found what I was looking for. The circle painting! I did something similar after I saw your idea. I wanted to give credit and now I know who to give it to YOU! Probably won't get to posting that project till Christmas break but at least I found where the idea came from! Thanks for the idea!

  14. Oh nice. I check in with your blog all the time and can't wait to see your kids work!