Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When Will Winter Arrive??

These trees in Southern California are totally confused. Usually by this time of the year they have lost all their Fall foliage and are bare. But here we are in the middle of December and it is 70° outside!!

So, I am pretending it is cold and Christmas-like. Made some paper mache antlers for my newspaper pooch. . . .
and followed this recipe:
to make batches and batches of these holiday cookies -- YUM!!

Hope everybody has a wonderful Winter Holiday. See you in the new year:)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Save Those Holiday Catalogs!!

Is your stack of holiday catalogs growing by the day as your favorite stores compete for your patronage?? I just hate to throw these glossy gems away because you never know when inspiration will strike and you absolutely MUST have a picture for your wonderful idea! That is how this began.
There I was watching TV the other night with this pile of catalogs right next to me. There were photos of lots of baubles that I would never buy, but I might just put them to good use.
So, I cut out some jewels and got to work.  I followed the idea you have probably all seen bouncing around the WEB these last few years (like here and here). I glued my photo in the center of my paper. Before drawing my contour lines around the outside, I put dots at critical points where the lines would "bump into each other."
 Then came the lines:
 Next I picked pairs of colored pencils for each section. I tried to pick colors I could find in the actual photo.
Pressing hard where the lines joined and hardly at all at the mid-point creates a 3-D illusion. Pressing hard and light to create VALUE is a skill that most kids have to actually be taught and this is a good way to practice.
Here is one more using different colors:
This would be a good winter vacation activity for when kids say, "What can I do now?"

Sunday, December 1, 2013

From Monet to "Menchies" with Oil Pastels

What do Monet's Haystacks and Menchies frozen yogurt have in common? That is the question 3rd graders  discussed first, before starting this project. 

We talked about how artists often just walk out their front door and spend time looking (and painting) what is around them. I shared how Monet had painted his haystacks in various seasons and times of the day and how the shadows changed. We also noticed how he shaded these cylinder shapes. Monet found these fields in his little town of Giverny, France. And that brings us to the frozen yogurt store directly across the street from our school. If we walk out our front entrance, this is what we see:
And if we walk inside, we see these cups:
Well, OK, you would see real yogurt -- I used a piece of paper towel for my classroom yogurt model. I also projected a Google image of a real Menchies yogurt with all its toppings, spoon, etc.

We reviewed "light source" and how to use tints and shades to create a 3-D look. For the first part of the drawing I modeled how to do this and add shadows to the yogurt as the kids followed along. 
 We started by  lightly sketching the cylinder shape. I had them erase the back part of the top oval (where the yogurt will go). Then we filled in the front of the cylinder with the "main color". I actually mentioned how Fauvists used wild colors for their art instead of realistic color. I did this partly because I didn't want 150 magenta yogurt cups that looked exactly alike and partly because there weren't many purple or magenta oil pastels in my collection and I didn't want kids unhappy that "they didn't get a purple" pastel!! After coloring the main color (not too thick!), we used white pastel on the left, where the light was hitting and black on the right (the shadow). 
 The last step is to go over the whole thing again, with the main color, trying to blend the layers. If the kids wanted the highlight side to look even lighter, they went back and added a little more white to the left side.

When it came to decorating the yogurt everybody was on their own.
 A final step was to add a line to delineate a table top and color a tablecloth and perhaps a background if they liked.
This is one of those pieces of art that I am going to be sad to give back to the kids -- I just LOVE having them in the classroom and displayed in the hallways. They have such a happy look!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Collagraph Hands

I wish I had more time to do printmaking with students. Many are so timid as they approach the project and would benefit from more time with lots of different kinds of prints. Most of our 3rd graders were here in the school last year when they did gyotaku (Japanese fish prints), so I know they have at least had that experience. This lesson came from Mrs. Crosbie's wonderful blog in Angus, Scotland. (See her lesson here.) If you haven't visited her blog yet, be sure to spend a little time browsing when you link to it!!
Kids started by tracing their hand and cutting it out. They then used that cut-out to trace and cut out another hand in a different color. I used 2 different colors for the hands to avoid confusion. They cut out the sections of one hand and glued those pieces on the other hand. See picture below to see them drying. Some students did better than others at this. Several had a hard time cutting and staying organized as they glued the little pieces even though I cautioned them to cut and glue only one finger at a time. I limited their cutting to thumbs and finger parts only -- I felt the palm lines would have been too confusing for this group.

When the printing plates were dry, on another day, students painted the hands and used them to print on an 8" X 10" board. They had white and 2 colors to choose from for paint. We talked about how to position the hands so the fingers pointed in different directions creating a variety of angles. Several students commented on how the white prints in particular reminded them of bones!!!

You'll notice that I used paintbrushes instead of printing brayers. That was a decision I made in the interest of time. I only have 8 brayers, but I wanted 15-16 kids to print at one time. I had 2 different printing tables set up. We were trying to finish up 2 projects and one day, so the time consideration won out!!

Here are a few of the finished projects:
When I returned the prints to students I gave them their hand plate separately so they could use it at home to try printing some more. However, I think the printing plate would actually look good mounted on the print itself.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Finished Spheres

This week 3rd graders finished up their Floating Spheres. The first part of the lesson is posted here. First they shaded their pencil spheres with crayon to add a bit of subtle color. I had to remind a few to continue to use curved lines, echoing the curve of the sphere as they shaded.
Then they cut out their 3 spheres and glued them onto their black and white vanishing point drawing.
We talked again about "fooling the eye" with the placement of the spheres on the background. To create the illusion, students placed the smallest sphere near their vanishing point, the largest sphere partly off the page, and the middle size anywhere in between. In the lesson I also emphasized arranging the spheres with the white highlight always in the same position. Most kids remembered to do this, but not all.

A final step, if the kids wished to do it, was to glue their whole composition on a matt board (either colored or black). It was interesting to see how they solved the problem of where to put the glue for pieces that stuck off the matt!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Favorite Book in the Art Room

I LOVE this book:

Unlikely Pairs by Bob Raczka is one of my students' favorite books. Whenever we have a few moments at the end of class, this is a "go to" activity -- analyzing the pairs of artworks and offering ideas why they might be paired.

This is one of the first pairings in the book:
The painting on the left, "Soap Bubbles", by artist Jean Babtiste Simeon Chardin has a lot going on in it to discuss. I was so delighted to recently find a short (and excellent) video on it at the Art Babbles site (here).  If you haven't seen this site, check it out. It is a treasure trove of resources for an art teacher!!!!

After viewing this video and examining a few bubble images from Google on the Smartboard, students will be creating their own bubble art ( maybe soap bubbles, maybe carbonation bubbles from a drink, maybe bubbles that they are blowing themselves).  I plan on having kids use construction paper crayons and maybe some oil pastels on black paper. We will have to wait to see what they come up with but I will share student work in the future.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Found Poetry Becomes Art

Due to Parent Conferences this week and next week I have some time off from school, so I thought, "What better use of my time than to audition a few art projects?" In the last couple of months I have seen quite a few examples of "found poetry art" on Pinterest, so I decided to give it a try. I used to do a different version of Found Poetry, where elementary students would cut out words from a page of text and glue them down to create a new idea as a collage poem. But I had never made art out of selected words right on the original page of text. I am planning to do this with a class of 5th graders in January, so I wanted to be sure that I discovered the pitfalls before taking the idea into the classroom!!

The example above started out as a discarded science text from our school library. I was a bit doubtful that a science book would work for this, but I was amazed at the words I found as I scanned the pages. Our librarian will be saving me fiction discards that we can recycle, but I think I will ask her to broaden her search, since the science book worked just fine.

I didn't anticipate how challenging this experience would be. First, I scanned the page, looking for interesting words that might go together (trying to disassociate from the meaning of the actual text). My goal was to create a new idea, unrelated to the original sentences. This is a terrific opportunity to integrate Language Arts and a discussion of colorful adjectives and verbs. It's tricky -- try it!!!

Once I found some words I thought might work,  I underlined them using pencil (in case I wanted to change my mind). Here I used a marker so you could see the lines.

Next I circled the words I wanted to use and connected them with a line to make the thought easier for the reader to follow. This example actually came from the Sports Page of my morning newspaper. I think it helps to circle the words with a prominent color that will stand out.
The last step is to incorporate the text into a piece of art. The art could relate to the meaning of the words, or it could just be design. This would be a good time to discuss some color theory (warm/cool, complementary colors, etc) so students can attempt to create contrast in their art.

One of the things that is so cool about this project -- it is VERY open-ended!!  When I do this with students I will probably be using colored pencils, although other media would work too, depending on how absorbent the page of text is.
Sorry this last image is a bit blurry, but I think you get the idea. I am finding that this process is a bit addictive!! I want to do more with different kinds of text -- it is quite a fun challenge. I'll share what the kids come up with in January.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Op Art, Spheres and 3rd Graders

3rd graders started this lesson looking at an image of Victor Vasarely's Zebras on the Smartboard. You can see the painting and a brief article on Op Art here. We discussed the idea of "tricking the eye." Then we looked at some examples of other black and white op art, noticing how these lines all start from a point and the lines get wider as they move away from the point.
Students also started with a point and made their lines fatter at the edges of their squares (their squares measured 5 and a half inches).

Then we also looked at a tennis ball with a flashlight shining at it from one side, to see what the light source did to the ball, noticing where the lights and darks were. Students used three sizes of bottle lids to trace a large, medium and small circle. I had them draw a small sun with an arrow in the upper left hand corner to remind them where their light source was. I find this helps as children start shading.

 Students shaded the part of the circle furthest from their sun icon, using the side of their pencil lead and concentrating on curving their lines instead of going straight across the circle. They made that darkest part first and then tried to blend lighter grays as they went up. I had the kids hold a finger on the spot where the highlight would be so they would remember to keep that white. Of course, if it got colored they could always go back and erase to make that highlight.
What was tricky about this for students? Well, it is always a challenge for some to use the side of the pencil lead instead of the point. In the past, kids have wanted to shade using straight lines. This time, though most children followed the curve of the circle as they shaded -- yeah!! For some, it is hard to get the very darkest shades. After all, pressing hard and soft for different values takes practice.

I showed them how holding their spheres at arm's length helped them to see the 3-D effect. I saw a lot of children having their friends hold up their art across the table so they could appreciate the illusion. So fun to see kids cooperating!!

In part 2 of this lesson, students will add color to their spheres with crayons, cut them out and glue them (using size and position to give the illusion of depth) on their black and white op art piece. If we have enough time, some of the classes may add another colored element, too. I will share when these are done.