Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shading Cylinders

Last year about this time, motivated by Kathy at Art Projects for Kids and a couple of Artsonia posts, our 3rd graders were shading cylinders to look like bamboo shoots (see here). I loved the results and wanted to revisit this skill with them as 4th graders, only with a new twist. We'll be taking a look at Dale Chihuly's video clip in his website where he is shading some cylinders using charcoal and we'll also see how some of Wayne Theibaud's cylinders show a light source and shadows.

After brainstorming what some different cylinders are, students will be using their light source icons, colored cardstock and oil pastels to shade and tint cylinders that "go off the page." I use cardstock from an office supply store because I like the smooth texture. (I've tried this with construction paper, but don't like it as well.)
Here is an example of the steps using reptiles:
The first step is to make a vertical section of the reptile's body, using a main color (or colors) of oil pastels.
The next step is to color white oil pastel in a vertical strip on the highlighted side and black on the shaded side. This can be messy because it will be covered in the next step.

This is the fun part. I tell the kids "It's where the magic happens!" They use their original color(s) of oil pastels to color over everything again, smearing or blending the white and black into the mail color. It helps to do this with horizontal strokes.
Then come the heads. Measuring the width of each reptile where they will be connected, students use the same technique to make the head look 3-dimensional, too.
They will glue the head on the back of the main paper and then glue the whole thing onto a background color.
Other options of cylinders might be pencils, paintbrushes, crayons, etc.

We'll see what students come up with. The possibilities are endless!!
Check back later in the week for student work.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

3rd Grade Regatta Results

3rd graders finished up their regatta collages this week. I pretty much followed my plans posted here.  The only change I made was to use a triangle template as a viewfinder to help the kids see where stripes might be as they cut out sails from magazine pages.
You can see it on the left in the photo below. I marked where the mast would be with a yellow marker so students wouldn't be confused. This worked REALLY well and they were delighted to move it around and try out different sail possibilities!

Skills learned in this lesson centered around perspective: that close-up objects are larger and placed near the bottom of the seascape (by the sand) and that boats that are farther away should be placed nearer the sky. Because the "water" was torn into strips, it was easy for the kids to place their boats appropriately. (The other focus skills are listed on the bulletin board photo below.)

I wasn't intentionally working on creating "motion" in the art, but as students tipped their boats and applied the splatter, I think many accomplished just that - an added bonus!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Winter Regattas - Part 1

If our students walk 7 blocks west of our school, this is what they see:
Now imagine hundreds of sailboats in this seascape and you have one of the many regattas (sailboat races) that grace our shores during the mid-winter. So, this week 3rd graders prepared the background for their multi-media regatta collage that we will finish up next week. I experimented with this during the summer and posted my work here, however, as we all know, once you start working with kids, you learn all sorts of things that you hadn't planned for when putting the idea together!!

First there was the set-up. We were painting 2 different pieces: the sky and sand with watercolor on illustration board, and the ocean with watered down tempera on plain copy paper. I had the watercolor pan, paper towel and a small water container next to each other at each place. I used this as an opportunity to reinforce that artists usually keep their water right next to their paint to avoid unintended drips on their paper. I have found that this is NOT instinctive to young painters!!! When I was giving directions, I had painters who hold their brush in their left hands switch the paint and water to the other side of their board.
You may notice that I pre-marked one side of the copy paper with permanent black marker. After this paper is painted as the ocean, we are going to tear it into strips and I discovered that the paper I am using at school has a grain that makes tearing from one side easy and straight, but if you start from the other side you have a crooked mess! Good thing I found this out before we all got to the tearing stage!!!

In the center of the table was a round plate with watercolor brushes and small pieces of foam core that students used to elevate the top of their board so that the paint would run down and have movement. I also had a larger container of water dedicated to final cleaning of brushes.
On a counter near each table I had the tempera, flat brushes and small sponges ready to swap out when the watercolor phase was finished.
We started with a short Smartboard slideshow of sailboats, ocean, sky, etc. (noticing that the sky is a lighter tint of blue near the horizon.) I loved that one student actually used the word "tint" in her comment! YEAH!! Then I demonstrated how to do a wet-on wet application for the sky, including how to make a little "swimming pool" of water in the lid of the watercolor pan and add pigment to it. They actually did this before starting the sky. First, they quickly washed the top of their paper with clear water, leaving white spaces of paper if they wanted clouds. Then, just a quickly, with a full side-to-side brush strokes, added the blue from their "swimming pool."
The student above decided to use a paper towel to mark where the sky would meet the land -- pretty clever! You can also see how he raised the top of his board off the desk using the small piece of foam core. After completing the sky we learned how to use that dry paper towel to sop up all the blue in their paint pan lid and wipe it clean (a new skill for many!!)

While kids were cleaning their lids, I traded the watercolor brushes for flat brushes so we could paint the water. This involved quickly brushing side-to-side with either the blue or green tempera and then adding strokes of the alternate color on top -- mixing the two colors together right on the paper. Then, while some kids were sponge painting watercolor on the bottom of their boards for sand, groups of 8 or 9 at a time came back to me at a table near the sink to roll on white tempera for whitecaps.
So, now everything is drying on the racks and next week we'll tear, glue, make and add sailboats and spattered paint and hopefully all will be beautiful!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

3rd Grade Ghost-Eye Trees

This week we are finishing our tints and shades lesson using The Ghost-Eye Tree as inspiration. Last week we painted our concentric circles (working on tints, shades and turning the brush as we painted) here.

It was interesting to watch kids try to visualize the trunk of the tree (looking like a capital "Y") as they cut. You learn so much about students' perceptual skills!
They used their scraps to add branches (hopefully with natural, organic shapes). Some chose to cut silhouettes of a fence to add detail.
We also talked about how some artists add a little surprise element to their art. The example I used was Miro's "People and Dog in the Sun" with its little spot of yellow near the center. I had the kids use the skills they learned last year to make a cylinder look 3-dimensional, only applying the concept of light source to a pumpkin sphere. They were asked to glue that little pumpkin somewhere in their scene as the only element that was NOT silhouetted.
Kids were "happy as clams" as they watched their scene take form. I heard a lot of conversation about "making the branches go in a certain direction so it would look windy" and "contrast between the lighter tints and the black silhouettes" and "thinner branches look kind of like spider webs."

The bonus of this project is that 1) EVERYBODY is successful and 2) the hallways have a subtle touch of Halloween flavor without being ghoulish!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Passing Thoughts

Last week as I was facing this sink full of mess,

I thought, "Wouldn't it be great to have an automatic dishwasher that would rinse all of this in 5 minutes and get it ready for the next group?" Maybe someday . . .
Instead, I finally pulled a chair over to that little bitty sink and sat while I rinsed. Helped my back immeasurably!! I don't know why I didn't think of it years ago!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

FINALLY I Get to Start Teaching Classes!!!!

Our District started early this year -- before Labor Day -- but I didn't adjust my schedule forward and have been regretting it since September as I watched everybody else start teaching with kids. Granted, I had a lot of preparation time, but I was DEFINITELY ready to start this week!!!!

3rd graders started with a slightly tweaked lesson that I did last year based on Bill Martin Jr. and John Archembault's The Ghost Eye Tree. Last year I did this with a small group of kids who had finished another project early while others finished up another piece. Of course, everyone else wanted to do this one too!!

I started reading the book with the kids. Then we talked about sky colors and silhouettes, with a short Smartboard slideshow of night skies (and how the color varies from the moon outward) and spooky looking silhouettes of trees.

Before hitting the tempera paints, we did a little brush practice with kids focusing on how to hold a flat brush, how to turn one's brush as you turn corners, how to focus your eye on the side of the brush to get a "clean" line, and how/when to reload paint. I used very watered down watercolor for this instead of the tempera. I blogged about this a few weeks ago here. Again, SO interesting to see how hard it was for some to turn the brush and paint at the same time!

When the practicing was done it was on to mixing tints and shades to paint concentric circles. The center circle is supposed to be the moon in Martin's scary story. Before students painted I had them draw a circle, using a bottle lid as a template, so that the moon didn't get painted away once they started the circles (that happened to some last year).
Drying on the drying racks
Mixing shades in some colors provided good fodder for conversations about color mixing. Some were quite surprised to find they were getting brown when mixing black into their orange paint!

Another interesting side conversation was the differences between good-natured teasing between siblings and bullying (we have a new bullying program in our school so that is a "hot topic.")

I had foolishly contemplated doing the painting, and cutting/gluing the tree all in one session -- WHAT WAS I THINKING??!!  It was my first day back with classes; it was the first rainy day of the year; and kids were on a different schedule because of the rain. So, we did the painting (which everyone pretty much got the hang of) and put it aside to dry. Next week we'll get to creating our "ghost-eye tree" and all the little details to add to the background. Check back for the final results later.