Cecilia W. was impressed with the “smooth” oil pastels, while Sarah S. was learning how best to use
her new friends “Hairy” and “Baldy”–the ends of her paintbrush. For the first graders in Kathleen
Priceman’s Spanish Immersion class at Lincoln School, art and the materials we can use to create art
were taking on new significance. Jonathan Franklin, a local artist, is visiting Ms. Priceman’s class several
times this fall to work with these students on different types of print creations as part of OPEF’s Art Start
On this particular day, the students were painting butterflies, but with a twist: They were using oil
pastels and watercolors together. “I colored it with oil pastels and then I painted it. When you put the
watercolors on, it falls off,” said Mitch B. This is an effect known as “resistance,” Mr. Franklin chimed
in, and it creates a sort of shimmer to the painting, an “explosion of colors,” as Toby M. put it. Students
also folded the butterflies in half to merge the colors and materials further, and, of course, to show the
butterflies wings fluttering!
The butterfly project is integrated into the students’ unit on nature and habitats. The students went
to the Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago where they saw lots of real butterflies. Jackie G. felt that
this trip to the Notebaert was part of what makes it “really fun to make art!” and the fact she had never
painted with watercolors before.
Later in the year, as part of this Art Start program, the class will visit the Art Institute as well. Ms.
Priceman also worked with Mr. Franklin in her class last year, when they created a collage that
decorates the corridor outside the now-second-graders’ classroom.
Ms. Priceman explained, “These young students are really interested in expressing themselves,” and it
shows in the variety of colors and patterns the students chose for their butterflies. For Ali G., making
the pattern was one of the parts of the project he liked best. “I liked making it look like mountains!”
Mr. Franklin said he chose these materials because the watercolors and the oil pastels are “such a
vibrant combination and the resistance is fabulous.” He said markers are easy to use “but they are not
as versatile as these.”
Once the students completed their butterflies, they created hooks from pipe cleaners and skewers so
they can be displayed in the classroom. The students were all smiles about displaying their art.
Next week, Mr. Franklin is going to do printmaking with these first graders.
Click here to see a slideshow of photos by Ginger Yarrow.