Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Still Life - 1st Grade

This is the first week of a two-week project to welcome Spring. There are many great still life paintings out there on the web for children to examine and talk about -- take your pick and show them your favorite artists to kick things off. I had a real vase positioned on a piece of fabric for kids to compare with a painting of a flower vase. I asked, "What did the artist do to make the vase look realistic?"


 Hands shot up and kids saw everything I was hoping they would see!! Comments were: "The artist made a "circle" at the top of the vase (not everyone remembered the word "oval" so I wrote that word on the board), "The vase has a light side where the sunlight is hitting it", "There's dark shading on the shadow side", "The bottom of the vase is curved like the oval", and my favorite, "The table looks like it goes behind the vase so it looks like you can just walk up and pick up the vase with your hand."  Are these children observant or what!!!??!!

Then, using oil pastels, I did a directed lesson to get them started with the vase. (Start with drawing an oval in the center of the board. Add sides and bottom and color in everything BUT the oval. Make a vertical black strip on one side, and a matching white strip on the other side. Blend all layers together with curved, horizontal strokes, using the original color of pastel. (You can find a similar lesson with details and photos HERE.)The hardest part for little ones is to get that horizontal direction of their pastels as they blend the black, color and white together smoothly. I do a lot of walking around and assisting during that portion of the lesson. 

Next, they added a simple plaid, fabric table cloth using whatever colors they liked. ( I modeled how to do this, too.)

A few stems were added to get ready for the flowers that they will add with paint next week.
 The last step was to add 2 colors of chalk/pastels and smear it with their fingers for the subtle background.

Stay tuned for vases full of snapdragons next week:))


Friday, April 10, 2015

Spring Break Winding Down

We are just wrapping up the end of a two week spring break out here in California. I started this week with a short stack of mysteries to read.
 The weather has waffled between perfect, gorgeous tour-bus like sunshine and gloomy showers. Yes, we really have these Starline tour buses in our neighborhood now!! What is that?? Thought they were only in Hollywood and Beverly Hills!!
This shower caused a delay of game for the second day of baseball season.
 But, that rainy interlude was perfect for kicking back in front of the fire and finishing off those books I had planned to read.

I finished Night, Night, Sleep Tight by Hallie Ephron last night. Set in the 1980s and 1960s in the Beverly Hills/Hollywood area, this is a suspenseful thriller that kept me guessing right up to the final pages. The kernel of the story was a real-life "Hollywood" crime story that took place in the late 50s, which I well remember. The book is packed with references to local haunts (many of which are still here) and that took me right back high-school days and memories I had long forgotten. What a treat!!
Finishing up Night, Night, Sleep Tight.
So, it's back to teaching on Monday, and as I close this last book my thoughts are turning towards lesson planning. See you next week with a fun new project:))

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lines in a Ring

 Taking our cue from Kandinsky's "Circles in a Circle", first graders created "Lines in a Ring" last week. I started and ended the lesson with Jeanette Winter's, Henri's Scissors, a great little book about Matisse's collages.

I started by showing kids how to work with their desk partner to fold a piece of paper so that the corners remain together and the fold is even. One person holds the 2 matched corners and the other does a "finger walk" from the open end down to the fold and then creases right and left. (Sorry I didn't get a photo of this process -- it's easier than it sounds!!) Even with my warning and demonstrating AND emphasizing to start and end ON THE FOLD, we had a few who had to re-do!!!


 Then we used painted papers from the previous week to cut and position creative lines. Students worked on the back side, so the hardest thing to remember here was to put the dot of glue on the ends of the PAINTED side of the paper strips. They also put a dot of glue between the intersecting lines.


 The last step was to choose a color on which to mount their creation:))

 Looks like this batch chose yellow or blue backings -- I actually had lots of color choices available. 

It was fun to see how students attacked the arrangement of their lines. Some were symetrical all the way and others embraced asymetrical or totally random.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

First Grade Fish Collage

I'm pretty sure I could be happy doing "fish" art projects as a total unit for a whole year!! There are just so many options for kids!! The fact that I had A TON of painted papers and yarn on hand was the deciding factor for making these fish:)) 

Oops -- I forgot to rotate this!!

I first saw this cool art at the Lone Tree Community Schools site on Artsonia and knew we had to give it a try. (See their artwork here.) Our first graders began by viewing Fish Eyes by Lois Ehlert and discussing what a fish skeleton looks like.



We also took a look at Ehlert's book, The Scraps Book, that tells a lot about her life and her methods of approaching writing a book. GREAT RESOURCE!!!



Students started with 2 pre-cut rectangles of painted paper (2" X 3"). I demonstrated how to cut a large triangle from the rectangle by marking halfway down one long side and cutting diagonally from there to each opposing corner. That way we ended up with triangles that were proportionally large enough for the size of our over-all art (9" X 12" black board).

They glued their yarn to connect the head to the tail and then added fish bones above and below the yarn. I demonstrated starting with 3 "bone" rectangles, laying them out (spacing from head to tail) and then cutting them in the middle to put on either side of the yarn (this was a chance to practice math, ie. "With your fingers, show how many bones we have now.") I then cut each of the six pieces lengthwise to make the bones skinnier, "Show how many bones we have now." Asking kids to start with a limited number of papers prevents the mad grab for far more than they will ever have time to use!!!



Some trimmed their bones to be shorter near the tail fin and some followed my lead and cut their "bone" papers thinner to make skinny bones. This was a GREAT opportunity to practice cutting skills and gave me the chance to circulate and help with how to hold the scissors correctly. Also, it's a good project for perfecting "a dot is a lot" with the glue.



We talked about the placement of the fish on the paper, too. Some fish appear to be swimming to the water's surface, others appear to be diving down and some are just "swimming" straight ahead. This was a time to reinforce vocabulary (vertical, horizontal and diagonal).

I like the variety of the bone placement. Those who had curved their yarn to make leaping fish had the extra challenge of figuring out how to place the bones and make them fit!! This project took us one period (50 -60 min.) to do.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Camouflage Collages

Back in January I wrote about this lesson (that I had originally planned to do with 5th graders focusing on color matching and composition). You can see it here. Well, I didn't get to try it with the older kids, so I plunged in with 2nd graders this past week, changing the focus a bit,  and I loved what happened!! They all created little abstract gems!!!

We started with a brief lesson on the Smartboard where students found the lines created where two colors meet and practiced extending those lines. We did a lesson last week where students extended lines out to the edges of their board, so this was easy.  I was using cut up pieces of food boxes (cause you know how I like to recycle!:)) Phyl, over at There's a Dragon in My Art Room, recently posted about artist Michael Albert, who makes his art from cereal boxes, too. So we looked at some of his work before starting our ideas. 

After extending their lines using Sharpie markers, students used watercolors to try to match the colors on the edges of their collaged box piece, and paint that color out to the edges also. They were trying to camouflage the collaged piece, much as animals use camouflage in nature to protect themselves. I taught children how to make tints with watercolors by adding more water to the pigment and mixing in their lids. They were working on a painting mat (just a piece of white cardstock) that they could use to test their mixed colors. I was absolutely delighted to hear kids talking about what colors they might use to mix the exact hue they were trying for.

Sometimes kids ended up with areas that weren't adjacent to the cereal box. I said they could either leave those areas white or choose any color that they thought looked good to paint them. That is why there is blue in part of this painting.
One little practical consideration -- once they were done painting, students had the final job of using a DRY paper towel (I actually cut them up into smaller rectangles so as not to waste paper) to vigorously and completely clean their paint lid so it is ready for the next artist to use.

Here are a few paintings drying on the patio:

It was so hard for me to choose just a few examples to share with you, so I'm posting more than I normally would. Hope you enjoy!!













 Once these were done and displayed, they provided great opportunities for discussion regarding SO MANY elements and principles of art!!!!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lines and Color Bursting Forth

A few weeks ago I wrote about line patterns that started with black and white and then progressed to color surrounding them. The lesson is here. I finally got around to teaching this to 2nd graders this week and thought I would post the results. Actually, I changed how I taught the lesson a bit.

We started out discussing different styles of lines and named a few of them. Kids drew some of their ideas on the Smartboard (sorry I forgot to take some pictures of this part of the lesson). Students then drew a minimum of 3 lines on their 3" X 4" boards. They had to begin and end on an edge and each edge had to have at least one line beginning or ending on it. This was to help create a background with lines extended in all directions, providing nice large sections to paint.

 Children cut small squares of foam core to raise this rectangle from the background and create a "pop-up".
Once the small piece was glued on, they extended all their lines to the edges of their larger board (8" X 10"). Finally, they painted the background sections using cake tempera. The focus here was using color thoughtfully and purposefully. (We had spent some time reviewing color systems.)



I loved the variety of lines and was so pleased that almost everyone remembered how to use their brushes correctly (without mashing the bristles) and cleaning them well between colors!! The best part of this project was that children worked independently with very little need of help and actually finished in one class period ( 50 - 60 min.)
I like the way this girl used separate colors for each of the "loops" in her vertical line:))

I made the suggestion that kids could leave some sections white. This student didn't quite get the concept of extending his or her lines to the edges of the board, but I really like the result!!

Look at all these great reds with the one section of the complement, green!! Great color mixing!!

The lines on the small rectangle fairly explode off the page -- such terrific action!!

These make me smile in the same way that Matisse's cut-outs do:))

This shows a nice, intentional use of white space.

I liked seeing how students treated their extended lines. Some painted over them, some left them black and white, and this student painted his blue:))
After drying outside (if you live in Boston, I am sorry to show you this one!!) I put a few up in the hallway display case.

Sometimes I display line works like these touching each other so that the lines seem to connect and create a network. I didn't do that here, but now I am thinking that maybe I should have!!