Sunday, October 26, 2014

Signs of the Season Balboa Island Style

A quick walk around Balboa Island (Calif.) yesterday uncovered some traditional and some not-so-traditional signs of Fall:





Happy Halloween everyone!!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pumpkins in Puddles

Around this time of year I ALWAYS have a yearning to draw pumpkins, or to teach kids to draw pumpkins. However, because of parent conferences and Halloween scheduling I almost never am working with students these last weeks of October. So we will probably get around to this lesson next month as an Autumn theme art project, but I just can't wait until then to post it here because it's really fun to do and would be great for Halloween!

We'll start with drawing step-by-step pumpkins.  I use regular copier paper for this. First, you fold it in half. Students draw their pumpkins on the fold, leaving the bottom of the paper blank. I have to make a run to Target tomorrow to stock up on Crayola Classic Watercolor Markers -- the best I've found for this reflection technique. (See a previous post using markers and water to create reflection in a city scene by clicking HERE.)

 Notice that we draw with a darker color first, brown or purple works well. This creates the look of depth in the creases of the pumpkin.
 When coloring in with the orange it is important to leave spaces white where the highlights would be. I usually bring a flashlight and a pumpkin to school so that kids can actually see how the light source creates that highlight. It also helps to add darker color shading on the underside of the pumpkins. We often add a few tendrils as a last step.
When their drawings are done, students paint plain water (lightly) on the bottom half of the drawing and fold it up onto the drawing. They press the entire area and then pull up to reveal the reflection.

All of this can be completed in one 45-minute session. However, if you would like to go a step further, when the print dries, kids can add crayon details for the straw the pumpkins are sitting on, extra shading on the pumpkins, etc. The first example at the start of this posting has that and some pencil details to delineate the puddle effect.

There, now I have satisfied my yearning for pumpkin drawing. When we finally get around to doing this little project in class, I'll be sure to post student results:))
Happy Halloween, everyone:))

Monday, October 13, 2014

Overlapping Quadrilaterals (and other shapes!)

I love listening to children using academic language, and especially when that vocabulary comes from multiple disciplines. With that in mind,  I wanted these 4th grade students to work with shapes they had learned in math, and apply their knowledge in Art.
We started with a Hang Spider game where the missing word was "quadrilateral", a word from last year's state math test. I wanted to recirculate some shape vocabulary.
I demonstrated how to draw and cut some of these shapes. Students' goal was to aim for quadrilaterals, but if they ended up with other shapes, that was fine, too. We got quite a variety!!
 The first step was to fold a piece of cardstock (6" X 9") in half. They tried to visualize what the final shape would be if they drew half of it from the fold. They drew the outside lines of their shape, beginning and ending on the fold. Then they drew the inside lines of the shape and . . .
 cut on all their pencil lines. I had a few extra papers so kids could experiment.
When they had cut out a minimum of three shapes, it was time to use crayons to color patterns or designs on them.
I set a couple of parameters for the coloring phase: 1 shape had to be black and white, 1 shape had to be made of 2 complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel) and other shapes could be anything the artist liked.

When it came to gluing, which was done with Elmer's Glue All (my favorite glue) in 4 oz. bottles, I asked students to make sure that their shapes either overlapped (creating black negative spaces) or touched another shape. Our back ground was an 8 1/2 " X 11" piece of black card stock. This was another opportunity to get "good" at making little dots of glue!!!!

 Most students were very thoughtful as they decided on their composition. Part of my lesson was to emphasize negative space, angles, borders and color placement.

Here are some of our results:
 I told the boy who made the above piece that it reminded me a bit of the front of a car (the grill area). He, of course, thought that was pretty cool!

 The above piece got more and more intricate as he played around with his shapes. It was interesting to see how many children opted for symmetry.
 I had mentioned that going "off the page" was totally fine, but not too many students made that choice. This girl planned her black and white quadrilateral with that intention in mind because she colored the back of that piece with black and white stripes so that it would look planned from the back!!

Another option for this lesson is to make it sculptural. I had intended to try it out with classes but did not have the opportunity. To exercise this option, cut a strip of black card stock to glue standing up on the 9" X 12" card stock. Students color BOTH sides of their shapes and glue them (still overlapping) on the black strip.

I am hoping that these children go home and experiment with other shapes and compositions. Since it requires no special media, it might happen:)))

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Figure Drawing - Silhouettes

Last summer I ran into a student who told me she REALLY wanted to learn to draw human figures better. So, when I got around to planning lessons for this year I remembered that request and decided to make that the focus for at least one project for 4th graders.

We began with a mini Math lesson where kids figured out how many head lengths (top of head to chin) tall they were. It came out to about 6 or 6 1/2 head lengths. Then we talked about how the body looked when playing soccer (or some other physical activity where motion was involved). I think it is especially important to notice the angles of the arms and legs, where they bend, the tilt of the head, etc. We played a game where one child would freeze in some animated pose and the class would try to guess what s/he was doing. FUN!! (sorry I didn't get photos of this phase!)

Then I modeled on the big screen how to draw a stick figure (6 heads tall, of course) with just the head, shoulder line, spine, hip line, arms and legs. I talked about the angle of the shoulder and hip lines and drawing my figure so that the head/limbs "bumped the edges of the paper (so that later they would create negative space areas for painting).
I also talked about the importance of placing the head near the very top of the paper (unless your arms are going to be raised above the head) so the figure would be tall enough. We used white crayon on black construction paper.
 Next came a contour all around the stick figure lines. I found that, as the first group of kids tried this step, some forgot to go all around both sides of their stick figure line, making the limbs too skinny at first. So, in the next class I really emphasized that point as I was demonstrating.
 I have done lessons similar to this before, using pipe cleaners, paper strips, etc.( see here and here) to help students form a body in motion, but this time I wanted to try it "from scratch" without any crutches to help. I had seen a similar project done with older students on Artsonia (HERE) where the silhouettes had clothes. So at this point I showed the children how to add small touches (sleeves, cuffs, hair) that would enhance the idea of MOTION.
This was a little tricky for some. Adding these touches was optional or "artist's choice"
but I noticed that most kids gave it a try.

The students did a GREAT job of cutting out their silhouette. We only had one head and one arm cut off in 2 classes, and that was an easy fix when they glued the silhouette on the background later.
 Once the figure was cut out, students traced around it onto their 9" X 12" white illustration board making sure that the white crayon lines were on the back, not showing. (You could use construction or watercolor paper for this, I just have a large collection of cut board that I wanted to use up.)
 The boys at this table thought this guy looked like a combination of Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and somebody else that I can't remember -- they're right! Love it!!
The next step, after discussing the vocabulary words "positive and negative space", was to paint their areas of negative space with different tints and shades of one color. Students used cake tempera and liquid white tempera. They had a yogurt container lid for their palette and we talked about how to use the palette without smearing color over the entire surface and trying to keep separate little areas for mixing. If the palette did get "full" they could easily wipe it clean with a paper towel and start again.

One tip, when painting the negative spaces, I asked kids to paint a little over the pencil line, into their positive space area, so that later when they glued they would only see only color and not the white, unpainted background.

When all the negative spaces were painted, children put dots of glue around the edges of their silhouettes (on the back side where the white crayon lines were), flipped them over carefully and glued them in place.They placed them on the drying racks, but since we are in the middle of a heat wave, these were dry before I knew it!!



I am loving walking down the halls these days!! What a view!! Makes me feel like exercising (well, almost)!!


I REALLY love what the addition of clothes does to the silhouettes!!!



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!!!