In addition to introducing concepts related to color theory and abstraction, this monochromatic painting project allows students to develop skills in the use of digital imaging software, color mixing and hard-edge painting techniques. It can be adapted for Art 1 through Advanced Art students, depending on the particular skills and challenges the teacher hopes to introduce. (To learn more about traditional monochromatic paintings, please visit "Monochromatic Paintings".)
For this project, students use Adobe Photoshop to desaturate and size reference images, and then use the cutout filter (under the artistic menu) to alter and abstract their photographs. While the cutout levels do not accurately correspond to the actual number of values in the altered image (a 2-level cutout may have four distinct values—black, white and two different grays), images with more values tend to look more realistic, while those with fewer levels look more abstracted. Students choose a level that matches the “look” they want for their painting and print their photograph on white paper.
At this point, students grid their photograph and canvas OR (if time is limited and the emphasis on the lesson is the achievement of appropriate color mixing and contrast between values) students may use carbon paper to transfer the image to canvas. Once the image is transferred, they decide on a "base" color to use and begin painting each value.