Emotion Expressed in Art and Music by Michelle Richter

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Emotion Expressed in Art and Music

by Michelle Richter

Aim: *students will learn about colour and line in direct relation to emotion in both art and music. Students will look at the work of Wassily Kandinsky and make a music-inspired original artwork based on what they have learned.
Grade: 3-5
Subjects: visual art, music.
Time Frame: 4-6 hours

  1. Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters by MaryAnn F.Kohl and Kim Solga

  2. Developing Creativity: A Classroom Resource by William Reid.

  3. Saskatchewan Arts Education Renewed Curriculum

  4. Music:

  5. Examples of Kandinsky’s artworks(internet or calendar pictures)

  6. Blues Clues: Shapes and Colours video

  7. http://poynterextra.org/cp/index.html - very cool interactive colour theory online

  8. Colour Symbolism - http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/middle/color2.htm

  9. Emotion words: http://yoakumisd.net/junior_high/bartosh/bartosh13.html


-watercolour pencils, sharpeners, water, brushes, containers, watercolour paper, pencil crayons, sketchbooks, c.d. player, calendar prints or data projector or smartboard with laptop, music, emotion words for word wall.

Learning Objectives: see attached checklists
Foundational Objectives:

  • Understand the elements of art and develop concepts that lead to an understanding of order in the visual environment.

  • Begin to understand the variety of sources for visual art ideas.

  • Begin to develop own ideas into visual art expressions, using the processes and materials of visual art.

  • Begin to think and talk about own visual art ideas and expressions.

  • Develop understanding of the work of a variety of visual artists.

  • Begin to talk about, interpret, and respond to works of art.

  • Become aware of the visual environment and visual art in the daily life of own community.

3 Components:

*creative/productive- students will create their own soundscapes to Kandinsky paintings. Students will create original artworks focusing on line/colour in response to a piece of music using watercolour pencils.

*cultural/historical-Students will learn about Kandinsky, the abstract expressionist artist that believed colour and line carried meaning and that art didn’t have to look like something. He was influenced by music.

*critical/responsive- students will respond to music through art. Students will make own colour associations. Students will respond to their own and each other’s work.

Assessment and Evaluation: checklists, observation, rubric, participation self evaluation rubric.
Student Activities: see below

Title of Lesson: The World of Colour
Lesson #: 1 (2 hours)
Focus: Basic colour theory. Word wall of emotions.
Vocabulary: primary, secondary, complementary, analogous, recede, advance, warm, cool, emotion words
Strand: visual art
Resources/Materials: emotion word wall cards, Blues Clues colour video, colour wheel sheet, examples of artwork(eg. Recede, advance, 2-4 contrasting emotions.), pencil crayons, sketchbooks, pencil or pen, Smartboard or data projector and computer.

  1. Emotion sculpture garden - hold up emotion word and have students show with body and face that emotion.

  2. Ask students what colours they would attach to those emotions and why.

  3. Have students sit down. Explain that colours have powerful associations in our lives (favourite colour sheet here if time.) Be aware of colours around you. Share that there are no wrong answers…different colours have different associations with colours too. (http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/middle/color2.htm)


1)Have students get out sketchbooks and pencil crayons and a pencil. Explain that they are art detectives that are about to discover some things about colour.


2) Lead students through a directed exploration and discovery of colour. May or may not use the colour wheel….or introduce it AfTER the discovery (do for homework.)

3) Follow plan page 96-100 or self direct depending on colour knowledge.

4) talk about mixing colours and coming up with new colours! Try them!

5)introduce ROYGBIV.

6) give lyrics and play colour video for students.


  1. In journals, have students label what they have discovered. Write what they learned about colours today.(give colour assignments if wish pg. 95…)

  2. Look at one-four different artworks and apply their knowledge in relation to colour and emotion. Use new vocabulary words OR Look at website (http://poynterextra.org/cp/index.html). Discuss.(this is SO GOOD)

  3. Self Evaluation Rubric, Observation checklist.




Colors(Blues Clues lyrics)


Colors mix above my head


Colors mix above my head


Like orange made

With yellow and red


Orange made with yellow and red

[Joe and Colors]

Chartreuse, a color I had not seen


Looks like to me like a yellowish-green

We want violet

We know just what to do

Just mix our two friends purple and blue

[Joe and Colors]

Just mix our two friends purple and blue


Mix blue and yellow

And they're suddenly green


Mix blue and yellow

And they're suddenly green


Then blue and green make aquamarine

colors bright, colors bold


Vermillion, magenta and marigold

It's so amazin' when ya' stop and stare

Colors, colors everywhere
[Joe and Colors]
Colors, colors everywhere

Colors, colors everywhere.

(Return to Menu)

Title of Lesson: The Colour and Emotions of Music
Lesson #: 2 (1 hour)
Focus: dynamics, colour, mood, listening to music and making associations.
Vocabulary: Kandinsky, emotions (word list), colours(word list), instrumental, mood, dynamics.
Strand: visual art, music
Resources/Materials: various types of instrumental music reflecting different moods and emotions(10-11 songs) , cd player, Kandinsky bio, calendar print or piece of artwork, colour/emotion workbank sheet, coloured pencils, paper.

  1. review colour concepts of last day.

  2. Have any of you listened to music to put you in a good mood when you feel bad? Have you ever listened to music when you feel sad? When do you listen to music? What kind do you like? Can music reflect different emotions? Why do you think this is? If a song doesn’t have words, can it still reflect different emotions?

  3. Today, we will listen to music and pick what emotion we think the song reflects and….if the song was a painting, what colour would it reflect and why?


  1. Play song clips and have students fill in sheet.

  2. Discuss. No wrong answers…just be able to explain your answer!

  3. Have students take out a piece of paper. Have them listen to the song __________________________________________. While listening, have them use different colours and lines to represent the instruments they hear. (a study for later.)

  4. Turn an artwork on its side. Have students look at it for what it is. Introduce Wassily Kandinsky. Explain that is how he came up with idea of abstract art.

  5. Wassily Kandinsky rap to remember facts about him.

  6. Show a Kandinksy print and ask them to guess what kind of song he might have listened to. Interpret artwork.


  • self evaluation participation rubric, emotion/art sheet. (see objectives chart from curriculum. Insert objectives into chart checklist with student names

Kandinsky Bio: See page 60 of Discovering Great Artists.
Who was he? Wassily Kandinsky

What did he paint? Lines, shapes, emotions, colours = painted music.

Where was he from? Russia

Why did he do the art he did? Believed colour and lines had meaning on their own without having to “look” like something.

When did he die? 1944
Kandinsky Rhyme by Michelle Richter
Kandinsky was a painter who liked music and loved art.

He was 30 when he was an artist, to some quite a late start.

Russia was his home but to Germany he did move.

He wanted to do something other people did not do.

They say he saw a painting, when it was turned upon its side,

Kandinsky liked the colours and the emotions he felt inside.

Art doesn’t have to look, like a person, place or thing,

The colours, lines and shapes are like music you could sing.

He was one of the first artists, to paint with abstract lines,

He would listen to lots of music, and paint the melodies from his mind.

His art doesn’t look like something very real, it’s more about the colours and the emotions you can feel.

Song 1:










Title of Lesson: Soundtracks of Kandinsky’s Artworks
Lesson #: 3 (1 hour)
Focus: students will look at Kandinsky’s art work and interpret the lines, colours and shapes with various instruments using a variety of dynamics.
Vocabulary: Kandinsky, repetition, colour, timbre, dynamics, instruments, percussion, composition, texture.
Strand: visual art, music
Resources/Materials: various types of tuned/untuned percussion instruments, various examples(calendar pics) of Kandinsky’s works, paper, pencils, jazz song : ___________________________________________, cd player.

  1. review music/emotion stuff from last day. Recap Kandinsky. See what the remember about him. Do rap again.

  2. Explain that just like in art, there is “colour” in music. It is called timbre. Timbre is an element of music that helps us distinguish one sound from another. Eg. Use muffled voice example. Same instrument, different timbre.

  3. Different instruments or sounds may make you think of different emotions or lines, shapes or colours. Think about what music would look like if it were a painting.


  1. Display one artwork to class. Dissect artwork with ideas the students have on what type of instruments/sounds they would be and why. Play a jazz song and have students make the connections between the music and the art.

  2. Divide students into groups. Each group gets a Kandinksy print and percussion instruments. Each group will have to make up a soundtrack to go with the image. What clues will they get about the sounds from the visual images? Use colour symbolism sheet and emotion sheet if helpful.

  3. Students will do a “rehearsed Improvisation”. If more time, they could notate their own work with a beginning, middle and end.

  4. Each group will perform their soundtrack while the other groups respond in terms of colour, texture, timbre, line, shape…interpretation.


  • self evaluation participation rubric, performance checklist.

Title of Lesson: Student –Created Kandinsky-Inspired Art
Lesson #: 4 (1 hour)
Focus: students will create an original piece of artwork based on a piece of music in the style of Kandinsky.
Vocabulary: Kandinsky, emotions (word list), colours(word list), instrumental, mood, dynamics, line, shape, timbre, texture.
Strand: visual art, music
Resources/Materials: piece(s) of music that lends itself well to interpretation(instrumental), watercolour paper, watercolour pencils, brushes, water and containers, masking tape, sharpie markers, straight edges.(show a clip from Disney’s Fantasia if possible to explain how music is interpreted through line, shape, colour.)
Using their knowledge about music and art, they will create their own original artworks today using watercolour pencils.

  1. give each student paper and pencil and brush. Work beside another. Give a quick mini lesson on the possibilities of the media. Hard and soft lines, thick and thin, heavy and light. Shading of different colours over top of one another. Composition = the clever use of space. Using water to mix.

  2. (play clip of Fantasia if possible)

  3. Have students only listen to the piece of music to start. Get them to visualize in their head the artwork that unfolds. It may change or stay the same,but only get them to “see” the lines, shapes and colours in their mind.

  4. Play song again. While music is playing, have students use materials to create their artwork. They must carefully select colours, shapes and lines to represent music.

  5. Have students write a short “artist statement” explaining their work.

  6. Display.

  7. If time, do two-4 contrasting songs. How does each artwork change?


  • self evaluation participation rubric, product checklist.

Kandinsky Group Music Composition Rating Scale


1. The composition had a definite beginning, middle and end. 1 2 3 4 5


2. The composition used a range of instruments to represent 1 2 3 4 5

lines, shapes and colours.


3. The group worked well together to form a unified composition. 1 2 3 4 5


4. The composers expressed a definite emotion in the music based 1 2 3 4 5

on clues in the artwork.

5. The composition was interested because it had loud/soft sounds, 1 2 3 4 5

high/low sounds and fast/slow tempos.

Total: ____/25

Kandinsky-Inspired Original Art Work Product Scale

Student Name

Student used meaningful colours, lines and shapes to purposely represent the music selection.

Student used a variety of lines, shapes and colours with the watercolour pencils to create a balanced composition.

Student reflection accurately represented their visual intent.

Student displayed a willingness to listen actively and put forth a good amount of effort into the final composition.

E=exceeds expectations

M=meets expectations

N=needs improvement

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