Sunday, September 27, 2015

Art for All

This morning I was watching a Sunday Morning segment celebrating that Los Angeles has a new art museum, The Broad Contemporary Museum, to visit (for free, even!!) when they flashed this trivia fact on the screen:

There are approximately 850 million visits each year to American museums, more than the attendance for all major league sporting events and theme parks combined.

Isn't it a wonderful to know that art in America is so appreciated and accessible?!! Just think, some of those art museum visitors art the artists that we teach!!

Link to The Broad:

Monday, September 21, 2015

Colored Pencil Chevrons in 45 Minutes (or less)

Here is a quick, one session exercise to practice value with colored pencils.

Start with grid paper and mark the points of the chevron like this:

Kids can use a ruler, or just a little pre-marked index card like above.

Once the lines are drawn, the coloring begins! I like the idea of starting with 3 distinct areas to color -- that is 3 different values (light, medium, dark), but you could have students create a greater number of values if you like, but that can be trickier. I think this is a good time to talk to kids about controlling the pressure they put on their pencil (or crayon, if you like that media better).

When the chevrons are colored, cut them out.

Then the fun begins as students arrange the chevrons to make an endless number of designs. I like to share quilting examples at this point for inspiration. The first examples below are using the six primary/secondary colors.

This one is a bit more intricate, using overlapping chevrons to create smaller triangles.

Of course, you can use fewer numbers of chevrons to make quicker designs. This 4-chevron one emphasizes warm and cool colors.
There are MANY quilting books for kids out there, but I particularly like using the book, Eight Hands Round, because it is an alphabet book of different quilt blocks that can lead to many other shapes to explore!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Floating Spheres at MacArthur Park

For the past week the idea of painted spheres has been floating around in my mind -- just like the painted spheres floating at MacArthur Park (link to post) that I posted about a week ago. In thinking about doing a sphere project with kids, I decided to try out some different media.

I almost never have kids do a project that I haven't experimented with first -- unless it is purely a "discovery" experience. Good thing I tried this one out because my first idea was a flop -- which I am happy to share to spare anyone else from having to try it!!

I thought about tracing circles on the back of wrapping paper, then flipping the paper over and making black lines to define shapes (like the spheres in the lake) and shading the sphere to make it look 3 dimensional. To add to the dimensional illusion, kids would glue the spheres overlapping on (and in slits in) painted acetate.

Well . . .  the tracing part went just fine.
 Then things started to go south! Once I turned it over and tried to color with black on the wrapping paper, the slick surface of the paper got in the way and was tough to get really black; shading for depth was a nightmare (see red sphere below). So I decided to try it on the back side of the wrapping paper (below, left). Again, the slick surface made the color look washed out -- and there is almost nothing I dislike more than faded looking color!!! I tried it with oil pastels -- same thing (and I didn't want this to be a painting project, so I didn't get the paints out!).

OK. Then it was on to the acetate -- except I was doing this over Labor Day weekend and couldn't find any acetate at home, so I tried it with plastic wrap, UHG!! I managed to get through the process, but it would be way too hard for little ones as it kept moving all over the place.
I used acrylic for this. Sorry for the blurry focus!
 Once it was dry, I made some slits in it so the spheres could slip in and look like they were submerged a bit. That part was actually OK.

So then I decided to try making the spheres on regular drawing paper and coloring with oil pastels. This worked much better. This would be a good way to have students practice using different color families (primary, secondary, warm/cool).

Warm colors -- solid

Primary colors (plus a surprise pop of secondary)
 I like to show students how Van Gogh used a "surprise pop of a different color (think about his "Irises" with the one white iris in the field of violets) and invite them to "surprise their viewer" by inserting an unexpected color.

This shows primary with a "pop" of secondary.
Finally, I imagined what these spheres would look like if I used painted papers that I always have accumulated in  
Spring. So, of course, I painted some papers to try that out using warm colors.

A few trees in the background . . . hmmmmm . . . maybe.

 Black outlining for the spheres . . . seemed like a good idea at first, but looking at it now, maybe not.

So what did I learn this Labor Day?? 
  • I learned that painting spheres is still fun (I always do     some sort of sphere work each year -- see here and here.) 
  • I reaffirmed that auditioning art lessons at home is always a good idea before taking them to the classroom. It's good to know what some of the pitfalls might be!!
  • Think I'll try painting left-over laminating film for my water feature before springing for buying acetate. That might work better!
  • I'm also thinking that this would be a smashing collaborative project, where kids could design spheres and make a GIANT lake collage with them!!
Isn't it fun that we can keep on learning forever??!!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Painted Spheres - Community Art

Imagine this:  you are driving down Wilshire Blvd.,a major east-west artery in Los Angeles, wending your way through a dense mixture of commercial service stores and higher rise office buildings. As you round a slight bend in the road and glance to the right, the space opens up and you are greeted by an explosion of floating color. 

Well, that is exactly what happened to me last week. The surrounding area looks kind of like this:

The lake at Macarthur Park is filled with hundreds (one paper reported there were up to 3,000) large inflated floating spheres that have been painted with riotous color. 

The spheres range from 3’ to 6’ in diameter. This temporary public art was installed by a group called Portraits of Hope and will be available for viewing for another couple of weeks. 

This link will give you an idea of the size of the spheres and the painting process:

Portraits of Hope has been in existence since 1995 and has organized many of these exhibits, including painted panels on the outside of a local oil derrick at Beverly Hills High School, painted life-guard stations at the beach and even painted blimps!! The organization serves youth facing socio-economic, physical and mental challenges and has developed special brushes so that adults and children with physical limitations can participate in the team painting projects.

When a friend and I went to check out a new shopping center near us in El Segundo a week or so ago I spotted these panels that reminded me of the spheres. 

Sure enough, a quick Google search revealed that they were painted by Portraits of Hope, too!!!

Now, every time I see one of these installations, I smile!

If you live in the area, and haven't seen the spheres yet, I recommend taking a little drive so that you can experience the happy feeling, too!!  It might be a perfect Labor Day drive:)) And then, of course, try drawing/painting  some of these spheres when you get home!!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Art Rocks!!

How about this for a cool way for kids to practice shading to create the illusion of depth?! You could start by having your class collect their own rocks/pebbles to draw, or you could use a photo of rocks, like this photo of river rocks taken on my vacation in Montana this summer. I ask kids to imagine what it would look like if each of these rocks had a magical patterned stripe (or stripes) around them!

This can be done with any number of rocks appropriate for your age group or time restrictions. It starts with a pencil sketch using a light source to identify shadows. I know I have written about my light source icons, but it bears repeating. Here is a link to that lesson idea:  I find that often students need practice in how to press harder to get darkest values and lighter for highlights.

 I like to circulate as students work, asking them to identify their darkest and their lightest areas. Sometimes what they see as dark is nowhere near dark enough to make their drawing "pop". We talk a LOT about this. A value chart can be useful for some.

Once the pencil drawing is complete, students create bands of color patterns using permanent (or watercolor) markers. I like Sharpie fine points for this. I think that this is a good way to review (or teach) color elements at the beginning of the school year ( primary, secondary, complementary, etc.) This would also be the time to point out that the color bands will be curved, following the contour of the rock in order to appear more realistic.

The rocks can be cut out and then stacked, overlapping on a background paper like in the photo below. You could easily turn this into a collaborative project by having students make individual rocks, cut them out and glue them as a class cairn (or rock pile).

For those with more advanced drawing skills, the rocks can be drawn  stacked with overlapping parts and then colored like this:

I like using the book, Three Pebbles and a Song by Eileen Spinelli, as a literature connection for this rock project. 

As I look at some of these rock compositions, I see that you could do essentially the same lesson in the spring with eggs as the subject.

Rock on, artists!!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Why Doughnut Art??

Well, I could say that the reason for making doughnut art is to practice tinting and shading to create the illusion of depth; 

or I could say it is to reinforce the study of shapes; or I could say it is to experiment with color or different media; or learn about Wayne Thiebaud's art . . .  One could go on and on. 

One could also say that I wanted a good excuse to visit my favorite donut shop in Costa Mesa, California (right next to Newport Beach) and buy a bunch of their cinnamon crumb cake donuts -- YUM!! 

After using these as inspiration for art I would, of course, have to eat them. I actually make the trek to this shop (one hour drive each way) often, just to buy the donuts. I eat a few and then wrap the rest singly and freeze them for when the craving strikes. Seriously, these are JUST THE BEST!!!!

But I am digressing -- back to the ART.

This project starts by having students use a ruler to divide a square paper into fourths. That is a whole lesson in itself for some. (How to start measuring at the end of the ruler - or where the zero would be if we considered the ruler as a number line -, how to hold the ruler in 2 places so it doesn't wobble, how to measure and mark in two places so the lines are equal distances apart, etc).

(For younger students, or to accommodate time constraints, you could have each student draw just one donut instead of four.)

Then, using photos of donuts (or the real thing), kids sketch and shade their 4 donuts. Notice that each donut just about touches the edges so that the donut "fills the space." Sometimes I have students use a little photo icon of a light to remind them where the light source is and where the shadows will be as they are shading. (see here for example:

Then comes the color. Instead of using just one media I like to put out crayons, oil pastels, colored pencils and paint so that students can experiment with each. This is a good way to introduce use of materials at the beginning of the year and it is a good way for students to discover for themselves the variations that can be achieved with different media. Oil pastels definitely work best for making the "sprinkles" because of their strong color!

 Once these are done, they can be framed as individual pieces of art . . .

. . . or they can be combined into arrays as collaborative works. I actually like this because it opens up lots of possibilities for integrating with math!!
Here we have 4 X 4 = 16.

And here is 4 X 6 = 24 or 6 X 4 = 24 or "What fraction of the group is Jelly Donuts?" or "If you eat half of this box of donuts, how many are left?"  You get the idea:))

A great Literature Connection for this lesson would be to read Homer Price by Robert McCloskey.

 Just think of all the great math questions one could generate with this illustration!! I can remember hearing this story as a read aloud in, I think, my own 4th grade classroom decades ago!!!
On that note, I think it is time for me to go eat a doughnut or two:))