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Lesson: Create a Night Sky of Fireworks Using Pastels

written by: Nicole Hilsabeck • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 6/13/2015

Using just a few simple materials, your students can create an image similar to the beauty of a fireworks display against a night sky!

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    Use the brightly colored pastels in a “broken color" technique to create a firework painting on black paper.

    Materials: Textured black pastel paper, bright colored chalk pastels, hairspray or fixative (depending on age), photo references, art boards and painter’s or masking tape

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    Lesson Procedure:

    Step One: Teacher will share reference photos of fireworks displays with students. Students will identify shapes and colors they see in the photos. Teacher will demonstrate the basic method of sketching out a firework on the paper, using darker colors first, spraying with hair spray or fixative if necessary, and layering lighter colors over dark to create contrast. Teacher will show students how to use “broken color," meaning that the colors are not blended or smeared. This allows for more contrast and a sense of motion in the painting.

    Step Two: Students will prep their art boards by taping down a piece of textured black paper. Using darker colors, students will sketch in the shapes of their fireworks. Encourage students to overlap their shapes and take up the whole page with their compositions.

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    Step Three: After spraying with a layer of hair spray or fixative (optional), students can begin working in brighter colors, leaving lightest colors for last. Teacher should remind students to be careful to stick with the broken color style, as the black paper will look dull if students smear pastel dust on it.

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    Step Four: If time, allow students who have completed their pictures to create new ones featuring reflective water underneath the fireworks (challenge activity).

    Extension: As a culminating activity, teacher may want to scan and share the students’ completed pastels in a slideshow format with music.