Kandinsky Circles Lesson for Kids: Practical color theory

complementary-colors-kandinsky-circles-xuan-paper

Kandinsky’s Circles Lesson for Kids: Color theory made Fun

Here comes another variation on the Kandinsky circles paintings theme. Last time we used polymer clay, while on this post I’d like to share a painting activity using rice paper (Xuan paper) and gouache.

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The underestimated Xuan paper 

I have a little confession to make: I like to use Xuan paper for most of my classes. Frankly, I  love how it absorbs colors evenly, which works wonder to complement and “correct” children’s unavoidable smudges, drips and dry brush strokes. I mean, look at traditional Chinese painting: it’s all about glorified improvisation and beautiful drips!

Now, I do live in China which makes Xuan paper readily available and affordable, but with some research, I found reliable sellers on Amazon as well. 

Of course classic gouache/watercolor paper will work just as well, but it tends to wrinkle and requires some extra effort to blend the colors nicely. 

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How to get started on the Kandinsky’s circles paintings

Materials:

  • Xuan Paper cut into squares. Depending on the paper size, I like to get at least two square per sheet of paper.

  • Gouache color (Ideally you would want to only use primary tones to practice mixing and creating new colors)

  • Soft round brushes (I use Chinese bamboo brushes. They are very soft and can go from thick to thin with different pressure)

  • Various round objects in different sizes (plates, lids, tape…) to draw your circles.

Instructions:

1. Start by finding the paper’s center: to do so we can fold it along its diagonals or use some sort of ruler to trace them. 

2. Use the round objects to trace a series of concentric circles.

3. Draw as many concentric circles as you like, usually three or four will suffice. 

4. I like to assign a “theme” for each circle: warm, cold, complementary, primary, monochrome… Now is the time to put into practice all that we have learned about color theory!

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Rice paper absorbs color very uniformly and its the perfect solution for toddler’s shaky/impatient little hands!

5. If I am using Xuan paper, I like to keep the color extremely watery. The trick to avoiding breaking the paper is to place a newspaper underneath it and leave it there to dry. They will come apart effortlessly once dry. Alternatively,  you can add a second paper underneath and get an extra bonus print! 

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What do you think? Have you tried Xuan paper in your classes? Leave a comment below to share your suggestions and feedbacks. 

For some more Kandinsky inspired art classes:

To read about my take on teaching color theory:

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