Saturday, September 20, 2014

Stellar 4th Grade Still Life with Vincent

4th graders have finished their still life fruit baskets that they started 2 weeks ago. I must say that I am ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE WITH WITH THESE!!! I look for excuses to walk up this hallway so I can look at them.
You can see how the lesson started by clicking here. For part 2 of the lesson scroll down on this page.

Why do I like these so much?? Well, first, almost everyone remembered to highlight where the light shone on the fruit.
 We did the first citrus fruit together so that I could remind students how to blend oil pastels smoothly and most of their shading was gradual and realistic looking.
 There were a lot of gasps as the kids finished the final layer of their shading and marveled at what they had done!
 I also love the overlapping of fruits to give the appearance of depth.
 The baskets have a nice textural look, too.
The majority of artists captured the "small brush stroke" look of Van Gogh's background, even though they were using a different medium (chalk pastels). Most also darkened the place where the two walls came together behind the fruit, giving the space even more depth.

sorry for the focus on this!

The Process:

On Day #1 the kids made their baskets and most of their backgrounds. You may recall that we were aiming to create a background with the same "feel" as Vincent Van Gogh's in Basket with Six Oranges.

At the end of Day #1 this is what we had:

 Nice layering of colors in these!!

 You'll notice that the bottom piece below has the basket glued upside down -- oops! It will be interesting to see how that gets fixed on Day #2:))
 Day #2 started with a discussion focused on this Vincent Van Gogh quote (which I saw in passing on Pinterest):
            "Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." 
I asked students what they thought this sentence meant. It was an opportunity to talk about "small moments" in story writing, the parts that make up equations, small fruits assembled to create a whole basket, etc.  What a great cross-curricular discussion!!

Well, back to art. Using oil pastels this time, students made one fruit with me modeling on the document camera and big screen.. This was my opportunity to review shading, size and the use of baby oil and stippling to give the citrus fruits texture. After making the first fruit with me, kids were on their own for the rest of their still life fruits.

 There were a few kids in each class who were thinking ahead and made the observation that they could use this technique for other art, like making planets or soccer balls. Don't you just love it when kids do that!!!
 Notice that the fruits are not diminutive in size, which is often the case. That is because I asked students to "bump" all 4 sides of their square yellow paper. I used yellow to ensure undertones for these fruits.
 As fruits were cut out, students slid them in the slit in their basket so they could visualize what other colors would look good in their basket and how they might arrange their fruits prior to gluing. The final step was to glue the fruits, using small dots of glue around the edges.

After a little time on the drying racks, it was time to display these wonderful works of art in the school's hallway!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Citrus Still Life with Vincent

Last week we christened the Art Cart -- it was off and rolling to the classrooms!! Since this was my first experience teaching from a cart, I felt a bit like a brand new teacher on the first day of school!! However, I should not have fretted so -- all went well.

This was day one of a two-day lesson. We started by viewing some of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings done in the south of France from 1888 - 1890. Specifically, I showed 3 self portraits (including one with his bandaged ear) and asked the classes what they already knew about Van Gogh. That kicked off the discussion about his difficult temperament and troubled life. I showed "The Yellow House" and his "Bedroom" paintings and told the story about when Paul Gauguin came to stay and paint with Vincent (and their troubles).

That led into where they painted in the studio on the bottom floor of the yellow house and the painting, "Basket With Six Oranges."
I asked students to notice what kind of brush strokes the artist used and the direction of the little lines. Much to my delight, there were students in each class who also noticed the shading and highlights (we did a LOT of work with this the last 2 years).

Then we launched into the project by drawing the vertical and diagonal lines to create the walls and tables.
Children had to consider the size of the bottom of the basked as they formed their walls so that the basket would ultimately appear to be sitting on the table top and not floating. I modeled on the Smartboard how to draw the oval and sides of the basket so that it would be large enough to hold their fruit.
The next step was to draw first verticals and then curved horizontal lines (using crayons) to mimic the look of a real woven basket. I had the kids cut a slit along the bottom curve of their oval shape so that we can slide the fruit in there next week. This will help with overlapping and the look of 3-dimension.
We saved the background for the end of class because we were using chalk pastels (ie. MESSY). Surprisingly, I didn't have one child complain about the mess. I consider that artistic progress -- when I started doing this program 5 years ago, kids were frequently hung up on the not wanting dirty hands!!! Step one was to use pale sidewalk chalk to lay on a light first layer and smear it with their fingers.
 Then they added dark along the lines where the walls and table met and most smeared that, too. This is one of those "magic" experiences when kids hold up their work and see how the dark seems to recede, giving depth to their scene.
 The fun part was to try to emulate Van Gogh's short, choppy brush strokes with the pastels. Students had noticed that Vincent used dark colors around the base of the basket and the bottom part of the walls near the basket. They tried to do that, too.
 The final step was to glue the basket in place, being sure NOT to put glue where they had cut the slice in the basket.
During the next lesson, students will be making their fruit with oil pastels and putting them in place in and around their baskets. I'll be sure to post some of the finished projects next week:))

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Recycled Weaving

You may remember that a week or so ago I was experimenting with "faux weaving" using  cut up cereal boxes (here). Well, that got me to thinking how fun it would be to use this as a jumping off place for introducing real weaving. It is hard for little fingers to cut cardboard, so for Part 2 of my project I switched to cut up strips of magazine pages. As with my previous lesson, I began by gluing strips onto a square piece of board (about 4" X 4"), first horizontally, and then vertical strips on top. Notice that I left space between these strips to make the real weaving easier.
Then, starting on one side of this assemblage, I wove a paper strip under and over the already glued strips. The weaving is easier for little ones if they hang the loose ends over the end of the table. I wove two strips on each of the 4 sides.

To keep the strips from moving around, put a little dot of glue under the strips at each end. This is a good way to reinforce the "one dot is a lot" concept of using glue!!

And, voila!! It looks like a real weaving, but actually only the last two strips on each side were woven. I then cut the strips various lengths on each end to add interest, and let the glue dry.
This could be finished at this stage, but I think it is fun to play around with different backgrounds, too. For this first option, I used a plain piece of medium value illustration board:
 Next, I tried a diagonal placement on a board treated with glue, paper and crayon (more on this in a later post):
 And finally, I tried the weaving on a board I had painted earlier for another project:
I like having children make these kinds of choices with their art to help train their "eye" for seeing contrast and composition alternatives.