Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ho, Ho, Ho, Snow-People Fun

I was just looking at Joanna Davis' snowmen looking up post (here), which reminded me of a cute Pinterest I saw the other day. Someone had build an upside down snowman/woman in the snow. Now, maybe this isn't a curiosity for those of you who live where it snows, but this California girl had never seen such a thing before!! Since I can't just walk outside and try it myself with snow, the next best thing was to whip out my paper and scissors (and a sprig off a fir tree that I just bought this morning at Trader Joe's) and get to work.
Of course, this is another opportunity to shade circles to look like spheres.  I think the kids would LOVE collaging snow-people in odd poses!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Art Teacher Inspirations

While I am sure we all spend our share of time surfing other blogs and Pinterest, I'll bet we get as many, if not more ideas for our classrooms from the world around us. The school where I teach is in an urban area, in fact, on a "shopping destination" street. Our nearest sights are not scenic vistas (except the ocean) or animals (although we can find some of these if we look hard enough), but rather, store windows.

I find that some of my best ideas are born when I am driving or walking alone. Once I see something interesting it will generally "percolate" for awhile as I work out the details (materials to use, Art Standards to incorporate, artists that might have related works, etc). Occasionally the art idea will occur to me immediately; more often it will lay dormant for days or weeks before becoming fully formed. Sometimes I use the photos I take in Smartboard lessons for kids to talk about and other times they just provide inspiration for me.

Since we all live in such varied regions and I enjoy seeing others' photos, I thought it might be fun to share what I see around me. Here are a few inspirations that I found today as I walked up the street from school:
I liked the patterns in this window display.
More patterns here, but I also like how they made their trees from old pieces of wood (or picket fence slats) just lashed together.
Love these stacked cube frames. Kids could make these out of painted papers  and stack their own sculptural works.
I'm not sure how I might use this polar bear, but I sure loved the window!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Collage Cats

Last month 4th graders followed the lead of vintage collage artist Denise Fiedler (see her website here) to collage dogs from recycled newspaper and construction paper scraps. This month 3rd graders tried their hand at it producing cats.

We started with a Smartboard lesson where students identified the basic geometric shapes they could see in cats, outlining the shapes with the whiteboard markers.

Then, following some basic steps on the board, children cut and pasted to make their kitties. They still had photos of cats to use as reference on the Smartboard, and, of course, many had pets or cats they knew that influenced their choices of eye color, collars, etc.

It was really fun for those who got to decorating collars and naming their pretend pets with tags hanging from the collars.

The last class had some extra time due to rainy day schedule so their artwork had lots of details -- unfortunately, I sent the artwork out the door with the kids without getting any photos of that batch -- ah, well, next time!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tints and Shades with Jingle Bells

Getting ready for the holiday season, I found a package of ribbon that I bought in bulk at Costco YEARS ago. I was so tired of using it for wrapping that I started thinking about how to get rid of it that is, put it to good use at school. And thus, the jingle bell project began.

I have some real jingle bells for kids to look at, but also found a good image of colored bells on Oriental Trading Company's website. Blown up on the Smartboard, they are a vibrant reference with highlights and shadows. Students have worked with oil pastels before making tints and shades, so that part isn't new. This study also introduces the idea of using analogous colors for back shading and variety, as the bells have reflections from lights and surrounding objects.

Rather than try to sketch in the black cut-out spaces, I find it easier to color the bell as a sphere, with several layers of oil pastel, creating the highlights and shading. This can either be a short task or a long, thoughtful one, depending on the observation skills of your kids!! Once the sphere looks "real" it is just a matter of drawing the black spaces in with the black oil pastel.
After cutting out the jingle bell, kids glue it on a contrasting color of cardstock with the pieces of ribbon and use the side of scrap cardboard to stamp the pine needles with tempera or acrylic. Voila!!
ps. We aren't really doing this BEFORE Thanksgiving, just getting ready.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Santa Monica Seascapes

While much of the country is under a blanket of snow, it is still pretty nice here at the beach. (Truth be told, we do have a trace of rain today, though.) 3rd graders finished up their multi-media Seascapes, adding people, sailboats, etc. to their work. We did the painting part of the seascape last week (HERE).
The glue is drying on these five. I am thinking that this would be a great collaborative project for a long bulletin board!!!
After demonstrating the difference size makes in giving the illusion of depth, I asked students to make at least one object to place in the background (near the horizon line), mid-ground (in the waves) and foreground (on the beach), making sure to vary the sizes. It was fun watching kids generate ideas and share them with their friends. I'd say that most children understood the concepts, but some could still use some more practice implementing the skills. Either way, their seascapes are charming!!

I loved the person diving (feet up) and the person relaxing on the chaise lounge under the umbrella on the left AND the cruise ship the girl on right added!!! We don't see many cruise ships off our coast:))

Friday, November 2, 2012

Let the Seascape Paintings Begin!!

While many folks on the east coast are suffering through extreme weather problems, I am almost embarrassed to say that Southern California has barely begun to feel the beginnings of Fall. Actually, it pretty much still seems like summer in our little beach town. So, this week we started a seascape painting.
Using the Smartboard, I began each class with a quick "Hang Spider" game (just like Hangman, only we form a spider hanging from a web instead of a hanging person) with the secret word being "beach." Next, I shared the following selection from a book I was reading a few weeks ago. It was a perfect launching place for us to discuss what the beach often looks like on a nice day:

                           The beach is crowded with color, humming with motion,
                            dappled with sun and shadow. It's windy, but that
                            just makes the waves sparkle and dance.  One of
                            those days you get a glimpse of where Monet was
                            coming from.
                                 from Face Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan
3rd Graders had questions about the underlined parts of the paragraph, so this was a perfect opportunity to integrate language, writing and Monet!! After our discussion I had kids close their eyes so they could visualize the scene while I re-read the passage. (I'll use this text again next week when we add people, boogie boards, beach balls, etc. to our seascapes.)
I shared a bunch of beach photos like those above. It was the next best thing to being down on the beach ourselves! We discussed the difference between the blues in the sky and the blue-greens and darker hues of the water. I also used my "Mr. Brush" chart as we talked about care and cleaning of our brushes. In this project we used 3 different paints and brush types, so I modeled the use of each throughout the lesson.
Watercolors, white acrylic paint and tempera paint.

Students started by drawing a single white crayon line for their horizon line (this helps them see where the sky ends and the sea begins when they are painting). They used the side of crayons to quickly shade in a beach area in their foreground and then the painting began. They filled one of the compartments in their watercolor tray lid with water, tinted it with blue and painted their sky.

Next, they added more water to the tray and mixed whatever colors they wanted for their ocean. I find one of the hardest things for young children to judge is how much water to put in the tray to be able to cover their painting areas, so I circulate quickly to answer those questions.

When kids were finished with this watercolor phase, I showed them how to quickly clean their paint trays using their dry paper towel and we put those paints and brushes aside so they could switch to white acrylic paint and sturdy synthetic brushes used to stipple ( a new term for them) on the waves. Students could use the ends of skinny plastic paintbrushes to "dot" on the sunlight glinting on the water if they wanted.

A final step for the classes that had enough time was to use white tempera to "splatter" on some paint to make it look like the waves were splashing up water. This is ALWAYS a popular step for "more active" students !!!

Here are a few examples drying. I had more paintings than I had drying racks, so we had to put some outside to dry. Next week, when kids have added all the fun details, I'll post our results.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Results

3rd graders finished up working with value on their moonlit skies and pumpkins this week. We talked about tints and shades and creating the illusion of depth by overlapping and placing smaller objects nearer to the horizon line. The media used was oil pastel and baby oil. (Original post HERE)

A parent walked by as I was putting these up in the hallway. I liked her comment. She said, "These are great! It's like Van Gogh's Starry Night Meets the Pumpkin Patch!"
I hadn't thought about using this technique for a study of Impressionists, but it is a good idea!! I showed the kids one of Georgia O'Keeffe's sunset skies as inspiration for their moons.
 The set-up for this project is below. On the white try I had my large STAONAL black crayons (I LOVE THESE CRAYONS!!), white oil pastels in a little cup, pre-cut black rectangles and small square for pumpkins and scissors. The red plate had an assortment of oil pastels with plenty of the colors I thought kids would need. (I did this so they wouldn't spend unnecessary time searching through my larger buckets.) I put a very small amount of baby oil in the portion cups with Q-tips along side of them.
If you are having your kids use baby oil, you'll find that it takes very little to get the oil pastel to mix together.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Moonlit Pumpkins

Each Fall I like to have 3rd graders make tints and shades. The sky and spheres (or cylinders) seem to be a good starting point. Last year it was trees in a moonlit sky and spheres ( here and here). This year I am combining the two and we are drawing moonlit pumpkin patches using oil pastels and baby oil.
We'll start by observing photos of moonlit landscapes and Georgia O'Keeffe's suns on the Smartboard. Then, after a review discussion of tints and shades, students will make concentric circles with oil pastels, starting with white and then progressively darker tints of blue, blending into black. They'll use oil pastels, also in a circular motion, and top with baby oil on a swab to further blend the pastels. These kids had experience last year using baby oil to make still life scenes so I am hoping they remember the technique.  I have found, surprisingly, that maintaining this circular motion is often difficult for younger students to remember, so I always demonstrate in an exaggerated manner!!
Next comes a ground cover with darks and lights.
I am asking students to make pumpkins in different sizes so that they can overlap and use size to create the illusion of depth. They'll have real pumpkins and this photo to use as models as they work.

I demonstrate starting their pumpkin with a center oval and then adding curves to left and right until the pumpkin is the size they want. We draw with pencil and outline with these great new black crayons.
I actually just draw something like this on the black paper kids will be using and demonstrate coloring in with highlights at the same time. Patty over at Deep Space Sparkle posted a cool pumpkin lesson with kindergartens using a similar idea for drawing their pumpkins (HERE).
Kids use white and yellow to make the lighter tints where the "moonlight" is hitting their pumpkins. They can go over the black lines again at the end if necessary.
I love the painterly quality that the blending gives to each pumpkin!
We only have 45 minutes of work time to create these landscapes, so I am not sure how many pumpkins the kids will be able to make -- we'll see tomorrow!! I'll post results soon!

I first saw a project like this on Donna Goldstein's Artsonia site in 2009. See here. Her 4th graders worked with paint and oil pastels to create their pumpkin patches. I love a lot of the work her students did and the site is worth checking out if you have never been there!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Movement and Texture

3rd graders made these collages a few weeks ago. They were influenced by the work of Keith Haring and Bernard Stanley Hoyes. I had them use the same process to create the people as 4th graders used for their action people -- pipe cleaners and head/body pieces to equal a height of 6 to 7 heads.

The kids used texture boards and crayons to create textural areas which they cut out and glued under their people.

Students were encouraged to turn their bodies multiple ways before making a final placement decision. The goal was to generate the maximum feeling of "motion." I love the variety of positions!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Doggies Galore!!

Quite awhile ago I was browsing the web and came across a photo of a collaged dog. I LOVED it and knew I wanted my students to try something like it. It took me almost a year to track that photo back to its source. I was surprised to find that it was not from an art teacher blog, but rather, from the website of "vintage book" collage artist, Denise Fiedler. If you haven't seen her work, click HERE. I just LOVE these dogs!! I shared this page, along with photos of real dogs with the kids. We discussed the concept of contrast and the shapes used for the parts of dogs before creating our own
breeds. Here are a few of our 4th grade results:

I wish I had taken more photos now -- quite a few got out the door and back to classrooms without me "capturing" them for you. There were a few poodles that were priceless.

However, as an addendum to last week's lesson (posted here), here is some of that work posted in our hallway:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Multi-Media Action People

California Standards ask that 4th graders use accurate proportions to create a figure drawing and to  use complementary colors to show contrast and emphasis. With that in mind students created a background using complementary colors for floors and ceilings and neutral colors for their action figures in this project. Before starting in, students viewed silhouettes of action figures and paintings by Hoyes and Haring on the Smartboard.

In the past I have used paper pieces to help children "build" their human figures. See here. This year I tried a similar process, except kids used pipe cleaners (which they bent to create elbows and knees) for arms and legs. I liked this a LOT better. In the past, some kids would neglect to use two paper pieces for arms/legs. Using the pipe cleaners took care of that problem (almost) totally!!
The project took two 45-min. sessions. Students created the backgrounds with markers (for the floor) and paint for ceilings and walls. The ceiling had to be the complementary color of the floor. Side walls were kids' choices.
On Day 2 children stapled 3 papers together (black, newspaper and white), laid out their head, body, arm and leg pieces, drew around their body using a contour line and then cut it out. Finally, they glued their action figure(s) on their background, overlapping. Some students used small pieces of foam core board under the black construction paper body to raise it from the background for added emphasis.

These ALMOST make me want to get up and turn somersaults or just dance!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Few Tinted Tree Results

3rd graders finished their tinted lollipop trees last week. They used white paint to tint colors for their concentric circled lollipops and shaded the crayon trunks using a darker color on one side. We also had talked about balancing the colors of their lollipops, thinking about placement of warm and cool colors. I loved the way students were surprised at the fanciful look of their trees as they began assembling the "lollipops" on them. I heard a lot of mutual compliments as they shared their work with each other!!

You may remember this recent post (click here). We used the song by Burl Ives as inspiration:

                                                                                                              The Lollipop Tree
One fine day in early spring I played a funny trick.
Right in the yard behind our house I planted a lollipop stick.
Then every day I watered it well and watched it carefully.
I hoped one day that stick would grow to be a lollipop tree.

Ah, ha, ha, Oh, ho, ho, what a place to be;
Under my lollipop, lollipop, lollipop, lolli, lolli, lollipop tree.
Ah, ha, ha, Oh, ho, ho, what a place to be;
Under my lollipop, lollipop, lollipop, lolli, lolli, lollipop tree.

Then one day I woke to find a very lovely sight.
A tree all full of lollipops had grown in the dead of night.
Well, I sat beneath that wonderful tree
and looked up with a grin;
And when I opened up my mouth, a lollipop dropped right in!!
Winter came and days grew cold, as winter days will do.
And on my tree, my lovely tree, not one little lollipop grew.
From every branch an icicle hung. The limbs were bare as bone.
But when I broke those icicles off,
they turned to ice cream cones!!
Performed by Burl Ives

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Few Classroom Tweaks

Just when you think you have classroom organization and management "down" you get that class that needs something a bit different, tailored just for them. After a couple of those instances last year, I decided to change things up a bit this year.

First, instead of having just my 2 large color wheels at each end of the room (plus a central one on the Smartboard) I added smaller, laminated color wheels to the crayon table markers hanging above each work table. These crayons are large (maybe a yard long) plastic piggy banks in each of the primary and secondary colors that a colleague gave me last year. Now students just have to look up to find a nearby color wheel for reference!

As a tie-in to these colored crayon table markers, we have a new way of getting started on projects this year. I was frustrated last year with all the art that got turned in without names or room numbers -- often 2 or 3 kids per class. When you see 120+ kids per grade level those numbers add up!!!

My classes all start out sitting in our rug area for a quick lesson on the Smartboard or a demonstration. When it's time to go to their tables (4-6 kids per table), I now give each student a colored ticket telling them which "color" table to go to. Their first task is ALWAYS to write their name and room # on the back of their paper. One person at the table has a ticket with a circle on it. It is that person's job to check and make sure everyone at the table has written their name and room #. That "circle person" then collects the tickets and delivers them to me. When I have all the tickets it is time to start whatever directions I have. I was concerned that this extra step might be time-consuming, but I have found just the opposite. Kids are focused and anxious to "get on with it" so this whole process only takes 1 or 2 minutes and my problem of "no name" is solved!!

My third tweak is a small but necessary one. Our class size increased this year and my rug area is no longer large enough for a whole class to sit in a half circle. So, I have 12 chairs, located on the perimeter of the carpet area to which I tied a piece of red yarn. The first 12 people into the room sit in those chairs and the rest of the class sits in front of them in a semi-circle, creating 2 rows where everyone can see.

Voila, another problem solved. But that is what we teachers do, isn't it -- solve little (and sometimes big) problems all day long!!
Have a great week-end (problem-free)!!
ps.  I forgot to mention, it was so hot here last week-end that I stayed inside and FINALLY set up a Pinterest account. I spent hours  on Saturday browsing around the web. I probably haven't found things that all you long time "Pinteresters" haven't already found, but if you'd care to check out my boards, there's a button near the bottom of the right hand column on the blog. Not sure how diligent I'll be at pinning - I already have a sore thumb joint from all that clicking around!!!!