I have done this lesson a few times over the years when the students are working on the inquiry topic of natural disasters in their classroom. In Australia we have had many devastating bushfires and there are always plenty of news stories and many images to view on line. After viewing images we discussed the intensity of the colour of the fire with trees, buildings etc silhouetted against it.
To depict a bushfire scene with silhouetted trees, building frames, etc.
I can use warm coloured paint using techniques of blending brushstrokes, dabbing etc. for a fire background.
I can use edges of cardboard to make marks on the fire background to represent silhouettes of trees, fences and building frames, etc.
We looked at two artworks, one historical and one contemporary and students completed a comparison. (Look at the title and artist, the year the painting was made, the perspective, colour, texture, realistic/abstract, details, shapes, objects, space, etc.)
Students began by using red and yellow paint and painting the entire paper, mixing in on the page to make orange. Even at thus stage of the process there are so many variations in the ‘fire’ including how much they used of each colour, and the brush strokes or dabbing effect.
Once the background was reasonably dry they used cut up rectangles of cardboard iv varied lengths (like a cereal box, as long as it is not too flimsy once dipped in paint) and a few of those thin wooden blocks you get with canvases. I put out plates of black paint on the tables so they could dip the edge of the cardboard in and use it to stamp on ‘lines’ to represent trees, fences, burnt building frames. They could also scrape the card to spread the paint or scratch into the wet for various effects. At the end I added some white paint to the leftover black to use for smoke- a suggestion to students to dab the brush fairly dry before applying. The end results were so varied and powerful.