Jasper Johns: Numbers in Color with Oil Pastels for Kids

Jasper Johns: Numbers in Color with Oil Pastels for KidsJasper Johns emerged as a contemporary artist in the 1950's. He is most known for his usage of classic iconography such as flags, targets, and maps. He liked to use everyday objects such as numbers and letters and elevate them to art.

I thought it would be good to get away from all the abstract artists we've spent time studying that were prevalent in the modern art world and focus on an artist whose work is more literal.

Johns is one of those artists whose work commands millions of dollars. And as an artist with a spouse who is also a working artist, it makes me feel very good to know there were artists who went before us who were successful in their craft. A nice change from the whole starving artist story we are all so familiar with.

For this project, I brought lots of books about Jasper Johns so they could get a good look at his artwork. Many of the students were pleased to discover the had seen some of his work, specifically his American flag paintings. For this project, we focused on his painting titled, Numbers in Color.

What you'll need:
Instruct each student to measure out a grid of eight squares on their paper. Within each square, students should lightly sketch their numbers. Encourage them to be creative with their shapes. They do not have to be confined to traditional number shapes. They can make them as organic and/or geometric as they want.

When students are ready to begin coloring with the oil pastels, teach them to use contrasting colors within each square, perhaps create an outline around their numbers, they can create a pattern of some sort, or they can blend two colors together. In other words, let their imagination go wild!

I was very pleased at the outcome of this project. Everyone created their own unique design, no two looked alike. For the younger children, it was fun to experiment with new number shapes and patterns. The students are also becoming familiar with the oil pastels, so they are trying their hand at blending two different shades.

The artwork above was created by a middle schooler.

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