Thursday, January 29, 2015

Art in the Hallway

The main hallway in our school leads from the school entry to the office to the cafeteria and then out to the main playground. In other words, it gets LOTS of foot traffic.
 This part of our school was built in the late 1930s and all corridors are outdoors (but covered), so when they added these display boards much later, they put glass on them to protect the contents. The lesson for these still lifes can be found here.
This recent lesson can be found here. The mat board frames come from the recycle bin of our local frame store (thank you LA Art Exchange for saving us your scraps!!)
I love that kids (as well as parents, teachers, etc) often stop to view and discuss the art. I have often thought, "Wouldn't it be great to have a way to listen in on all the conversation that student art generates?!" I get to hear a little bit of it as I am putting up or taking down displays, but I would so love to capture all the spontaneous comments and share them, too!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Color Matching and Composition

Here's a little one day project that incorporates using a lot of art skills: composition, color matching, line, balance, repetition, mixing colors, brush techniques, -- you get the idea.
Perhaps best of all, it starts with recycled boxes/magazines -- my favorite!! This means I get to reduce the size of my saved cereal box stash!!

This example started out with a raisin bran box. Kids can cut whatever shape they like, although I found that areas where different colors meet (like the stripes in the cereal bowl here) are easier when it comes to finding lines to extend.
 I forgot to mention that this project provides yet another opportunity to practice making SMALL glue dots!
 Then come the lines. Everywhere that two colors meet provides a line to extend onto the background. I like when the recycled piece offers the inspiration for variety in the lines. Notice straight vs. curvy, crinkly vs. smooth, etc. Kids have so many choices to make. They can stay with the direction the line has in the original drawing, or let their imagination go as they extend their lines in whole new directions.
 Mixing the colors to try to exactly match the original color is a skill that students perfect as they mature, but I think it is good to start practicing early. It gives them an awareness of subtle gradations of color and they can start to develop their ability to manipulate the paint colors.
 Some areas may not be exact extensions of original color and students have the opportunity to use balance or repetition as they select colors with regard to the whole composition. For example, the areas in the lower right below are trying to balance the yellow-oranges in the upper left corner.
I think some of these make great compositions with just the recycled picture and the black and white line background.
 Many of the original pictures provide opportunities for students to experiment with reproducing textures. The lower left example below started out as a cake box. Getting the bumpy texture of the cake was a challenge to mimic with watercolor!!
The only problem with this project is that it is a bit addicting and once you have done one, you start looking for other great pictures to start cutting up. As I am eyeing the last cookie from this Trader Joe's holiday cookie box I am already getting the scissors ready!! Just look at all those luscious lines!!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Line Patterns From Black & White to Color

We are welcoming the new year with line patterns that start with black and white on a small area and then extend out onto the background board and burst into color. This is a great opportunity to revisit the idea of pattern in art as well as use color systems based on the color wheel.
This piece is using the basic 6 colors of the color wheel and then mixing tertiary colors for the extra spaces.
The first version of this project is for older students. They draw a geometric shape and then add sides and glue tabs: (a simpler version for primary grades is illustrated below if you scroll down aways)

Next, students create different patterned lines that begin and end on an edge. In other words, no ending your line somewhere in the middle of the shape. This could be done with permanent marker or crayon, although I prefer crayon when we get to extending the lines onto the background because the crayon acts as a barrier to stop watercolor running from area to area.
Students carefully fold their flaps and glue onto a background board:
They could opt to glue more than one shape on a board depending on time constraints.
Then it is time to extend the lines onto the background board.
This color was added using watercolors, although any media would work.

I really like the contrast of leaving the original geometric shape black and white, but you could always add color to it also.
For students who are younger or unable to manage drawing and cutting the flaps, here are two easier options:

1. Have students draw a simple geometric shape on card stock -- no sides or glue tabs necessary. After drawing their patterned lines they can cut out small squares of foamcore and glue them on the corners of the back of their shape (with one in the center for support) and position it on the background board. For this option, I think it is easier to do the painting before gluing the lined geometric shape in place so they can get their brush to the underneath spaces with greater ease.

 This is done with watercolor markers (Crayola) brushed with clear water to give the appearance of paint.

2. Another easier option is to create a shape with tabs on only two opposite sides. The example below is in progress and has not yet been painted, but you get the idea:))

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Santa Monica Winter

Well, it's official (according to our local weathermen/women) -- a week of 70+ degrees until Thursday, when we dip into the 60s. So, the only way we can come close to a dream of "White Christmas" is with photo editing! Wishing everyone a festive holiday!!:))
See you in the new year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

'Tis the Week Before Christmas

As our Winter Holiday approaches, 3rd graders finish up these Tumbling People:

Here is how we started -- contemplating playing cards strewn about:
 Students used one card and drew their composition with pencil. Then they outlined the rectangles with black crayon to keep the watercolor from "traveling" between them. ( I demonstrated how to do this -- overlapping, not crossing over previous pencil lines, starting from the bottom and moving towards the top, etc.)
 Next came the watercolor: plain water first, then drop in two or 3 colors and watch the color run and mix together -- just like magic!!
 While the paint dried, students made gesture drawings the same size as their cards using white crayon.

Then it was time to place their figures and glue them on using dots of white glue.

This took one class period -- 50 minutes. Some kids had time to make a figure for each of their rectangles, others had one or two, but all the compositions were delightful!!

We ran out of time but in a second period we could have cut out the tumbling people and mounted them on a variety of different backgrounds. Here is what that might have looked like:

I think it is interesting to see how the same figures take on different moods with the varying backgrounds. This would provide a good opportunity to discuss positive and negative space. It's fun to experiment!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

3rd Grade Robins in the Forest

Last summer this robin . . .
was busy feeding its babies in this nest . . .
in the Bitterroot Forest of Montana.
And thus, our 3rd grade forest project was born.

Day #1:  Students started by viewing photos of the area and discussing what they noticed (light hits the trees on one side, putting shadows on the other side; the base of the trees in the foreground are nearer the bottom of the picture; needles in the lodge pole pines are pretty high up -- not near the ground; there are a lot of branches sticking out from the trunks, the robin has a red chest area and a blackish head, etc.) This was a good opportunity to share some Science info, too!!

First, using sidewalk chalk, students lightly colored the sky and ground area, smearing the chalk with their fingers. Then, using oil pastels, we placed the trees, making some appear farther back in their landscape by making them thinner and starting them nearer to the horizon line.
 Lodge pole pines can be 100' tall, so to make their trees appear tall, students extended all their trunks off the top of the board.
 Some artists were diligent in trying to duplicate the texture of the bark.

 The final step on that first day was to print pine needles using small pieces of cut illustration board and green tempera.

Day #2
On the second day, using crayons, students built up the surface of the forest floor and background of blurry trees by "flicking their wrists" to make the short, needle like overlapping lines.

I did a short demonstration on drawing a robin and then, using a thin black marker (no pencils!!!) kids drew their robin(s), colored it with crayon, cut it out and decided where to place it on their forest-scape.
Most students are getting really proficient at blending their oil pastels to get gradual color change!! Yay!!

I envision displaying these side by side over a large bulletin board to give the feel of the dense forest. When a board becomes available at school I'll do that and share the image with you all. These make me feel like I am back in Montana!!