Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gyotaku Prints and Crayon Resist

Last year I invested in a set of rubber prints for making Gyotaku (Japanese fish prints). You can see last year's lesson here.  I only used them with 2 grade levels last year, so I decided to use them with 2 more grade levels this year (I guess partly to get my money's worth out of the fish!!).

This week, 4th graders watched the video clip of artist Naoki using the printing process. (You can get that link in the above linked lesson.)

Then, one group at a time, students made their prints while the rest of the class created underwater scapes. They had photos of sea grasses, kelp and a variety of coral to look at as they worked with crayon. Then, in the last ten minutes (yep, that is all the time it took) they used liquid water color to make the wet-on-wet wash and create the look of bubbles.
 I demonstrated how to get the look of bubbles by:
          1) Sprinkling small drops of plain water on the drying blue watercolor.
          2) Sprinkling salt
          3) Pressing bubble wrap on the damp paint
I thought that this student did a particularly nice job shading her grasses (to get the feeling of depth). You can also see how the salt not only made the little white bubbles, but also brought out purple from the blue -- LOTS if oohs and ahhs on this project!!!

Here are a few more backgrounds. Next week, student will cut out their fish prints and glue them on. I will be sure to share!
Great movement created by the curvy grasses.

 I like the way this student used bright colors for the coral.
I LOVE the way the water ran on this one!!! Looks like a ray of light coming from above the water.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Few More Tumbling Cubes

Here are a few more examples of 4th graders work last week. One of my favorite things to do is to post art in the hallway because I get to listen to comments of passers-by. This board is on a main corridor leading to and from the office and the cafeteria, so a lot of kids are using the route as I work. Many discuss with each other the changing art, some stop to chat and discuss the art with me asking how the kids made it, and just about everyone walks on smiling and talking about art.

And here is just a quick note on rulers. It always amazes me how many students can get to 4th grade and still have such a difficult time using a ruler!! For the above art, I asked the classes to use a ruler as a straight edge to draw a border for their work (no measuring involved here -- just holding the ruler flush with the edge of the board and drawing a line -- which I modeled) -- like this:
                                                         Nice job!!
The first day I saw more than one student, however, doing this:
Needless to say, on Day 2 I dramatically modeled how NOT to cross over your arms as you try to draw lines!!!!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tumbling Blocks Create "Movement"

For this project, 4th graders started out at the Smartboard discussing the Tumbling Block quilt pattern, observing the angles, color values, shapes and placement that make the cubes look three-dimensional. In addition to the "art talk" we shared stories about quilts and even about building with blocks and having a little brother come along and remove one from the bottom!! Good opportunity to mention "small moment" stories in writing and quilts' history in our country.

Also on Day one, students used a ruler to lightly draw a border and a ground line to represent a table.

Then, using cake tempera, which they watered down considerably in their palette, kids painted a patterned "wallpaper" background a la Matisse and a solid base color. Since the cubes would be done in colored pencil, which reads somewhat muted, I stressed the necessity of having the background colors soft so that the cubes would stand out and be the focal point for the viewer.
Sorry this is upside down -- Blogger wouldn't accept my rotated version! Although kids could decide to use their painted background this way, too.

Day 2 was all about making the cubes (1 small, 1 medium and 1 large). The first cube was a directed lesson and then kids could draw the other two. The "A" and "B" were on the upper corners to help with verbal directions and getting the lines and angles "right". To reinforce the idea that light source creates the value of the colors of each side of the cube I had a lightbulb icon on a smartboard page (see photo above) that students could move around to demonstrate where the light source was for various quilt examples.

As I walked around the room to help when needed, students used first a regular #2 Dixon Ticonderoga pencil and then colored pencil on top to shade the darkest side of the cube, medium pressure of a colored pencil for the main value and very light pressure for the top of their cubes. We all used the same light source direction for uniformity when these were displayed later.

Next, students cut out their cubes, arranged them on their background, overlapping and tilting them to get the illusion of movement. (We had discussed how to achieve this look.)

We had some left-over painted paper strips in the scrap box, so kids could choose either black or these painted strips to cut into squares and use for the border.

The kids had a lot of fun trying out different ways to make their cubes appear to be tumbling!! I'll post more results as I get them.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mr. Brush

Blogging often offers such unexpected pleasures. Last year, through this blog, I connected with an art teacher that works not too far from where I am. This past summer I met with her and 5 of her art teacher buddies to share ideas and "talk art." It was such a treat to connect with other art teachers (our small district doesn't have elementary art teachers).  As we lamented how many young students show a need for little lessons on the tools of our trade (use and care of brushes, scissors, rulers, etc.) I mentioned how much I love my Mr. Brush poster on brush care. They suggested that I share this on the blog.

A few years ago I read about the Mr. Brush posters offered by Royal Langnickel. I'm not sure where I first heard about them, but it may have been from Phyl's blog, There's a Dragon in My Art Room. They don't list this poster in their catalogue and didn't at that time either. As I recall, I e-mailed them asking if the posters were still available and that I was interested in purchasing them. Lo and behold, I got a very nice response and 2 complimentary posters -- this one on brush care, and another showing all the various types of paintbrushes.

This is my students' favorite. It hangs "front and center" for all to see. A few times last year I neglected to refer to the chart when I was mentioning cleaning the brush in clean water and a bunch of hands shot up in the air to remind me that that was just what Mr. Brush liked!!! I think their favorite picture is the one on the bottom left that says Mr. Brush does not like his hair smashed!!

I was just hanging it up today, getting ready for Wednesday, my first day with students. Yippee -- I am more than ready to get started!! Check back later for our first lesson (a multi-media piece where kids experiment with value, still life, painting and collage).

Monday, September 2, 2013

Markers - Prang vs. Crayola

Yesterday I was packing up the box of materials that Prang/Dixon sent me to review to take to school and realized that I had not yet field tested the last item: colored markers. While I don't use markers often in the art room, I have always purchased Crayola brand. As a matter of fact, I didn't know that Prang made markers.
The Prang set of "10" actually had 12 markers -- a little bonus. They have 2 shades of blue and green. The Crayola set had the standard 10 colors. You can see the colors in the top photo. The top row in the above photo shows sets of 4 vertical, side-by-side strokes. You can see that the Crayolas make a much wider line.

When I use markers in my art room it is usually in connection with water and watching the color spread, like in my "Twisted Circle" lesson (HERE). So, I tried twisting the bottle cap lids with 2 primary colors to see how the colors ran together. The Prang darker color blue did not run well, but the lighter blue was OK. All the Crayola colors run together quite well.
The bottom stripes (above) show what happened when I brushed clear water between the marker lines to see how the color would "float" on the water.

Finally, and most important, take a look at the individual pens. Prang has white caps, which is fine. The points and the felt was what interested me most. Remember those first vertical lines I drew where the Crayola produced a much wider line? The angle of the felt marker point is different in these 2 pens. The Crayola creates a wide line MUCH easier because of that angle. Also, the angled side of the Crayola is perfectly straight, while the Prang's is slightly rounded. That rounded side makes it harder to draw a straight, thick line. I also found that, while the intensity of the Prang colors was a bit more vibrant, the pen tip sort of make a scratchy sound as I pulled it across the paper, sticking now and then. The Crayola pen glides easily. If it was difficult for me to get the lines I wanted with the Prang marker, I imagine it would be even harder for students. Sorry Prang, I'm sticking with the Crayolas for colored markers.

So the final result of all the products?
     1)  Dixon Ticonderoga vs. any other brand - Dixon wins hands down!! Full review here.
     2)  Prang Semi-Moist Watercolors vs. Crayola Washable - Between these 2 I would take the Prang, but if I were comparing the Prang Semi-Moist to regular Crayola pan watercolors I could go either way. Full review here.
     3)  Prang Colored Markers vs Crayola Colored Markers - Definitely, Crayola.

Remember, Prang offered us a complimentary Prang coupon here for considering their products.