Saturday, October 2, 2010

Light Source #1

Perhaps one of the most important skills I would like students to practice daily is how to look at something and really SEE it. Our first project for all students (1st - 5th grades) will be focusing on where light is coming from and how it affects the color of the object it is hitting.  We'll start by observing cylinders and spheres in real life.

I turn out the overhead lights so that the light source is coming from the side. Our classroom has huge windows that provide great light, but I usually have a flashlight handy just in case that is not enough.

I plan to share with the kids that as I was driving around town this week I found myself looking at trees, buildings -- just about everything -- to see where the light was hitting them!!!

There is a terrific video on glass artist, Dale Chihuly's website on Potatoes and Bamboo.
Children will watch it as part of a Smartboard presentation and discuss where the artist puts his shadows on the bamboo.  We will also talk about how artists often do studies that help them in executing a larger work.  What we will be doing will be a study.  I went to the garden shop today to find bamboo for the kids to look at as they create their art study.

Our process:
1.  I have a variety of dark colored cardstock both 8 1/2" X 11" and half-sized (8 1/2" X 5 1/2") for children to choose. When practical I always like to have our young artists make the same kinds of choices that professional artists make with respect to the media they use, thus the various colors and sizes.

2.  Children will start by placing an icon of a sun or lightbulb (I have both) on either the upper left or right corner of their paper (this is a reminder of the source of their light).  Then, using oil pastels they'll draw one vertical bamboo shoot and color it with one main color.  Then, referring to their light source,  they'll use white pastels on that side of their bamboo shoot.

3.  Children color the shade side with black and then use the original color to smooth the layers all together. They'll create the bamboo section markings with a dark hue.   4.Next they repeat the procedure laying the bamboo shoot horizontally (placing it behind the vertical bamboo.) Finally, they create a third bamboo that is placed vertically.  Children who choose the larger size paper can even make a fourth bamboo shoot.

This study gives children an opportunity to practice seeing shadows and making tints and shades using white and black.  They are also experimenting with overlapping to achieve depth.  The subject matter would surely not have to be bamboo, but could be anything cylindrical.  We actually will brainstorm things that are cylinders and next time I do this I may have kids choose what their cylinders will be.

3rd Grade California Content Standards 1.4, 2.4


  1. Congrats on what appears to be a nice new blog! And thanks for visiting mine (There's a Dragon in my Art Room). If you check back on my blog, I left a response to your question about the PTSA fundraiser. Please come visit again!

  2. By the way, I think it's great you are getting even your littlest artists to think and to look. I saw a similar project a while back, that used cylindrical pipes or tubes, that I thought looked like wacky plumbing. Very cool.

  3. My third comment - I just wanted to let you know that I've become, I think, your first follower. I look forward to seeing what you'll be doing on your blog.

  4. Thanks, Phyl. This is all new to me and it is sooo great to have a way to share with other teachers. Wish I had had a resource like blogs when I started teaching!! I can see I am going to have to get more organized about saving sites, though. I think it was on Artsonia (maybe in a New York or Mass. school) that I saw a "pipes" version of the "bamboo shoots" that we will be doing, but I couldn't find the site when I went back looking for it. As I recall, that teacher also did a version using candy canes as the cylinders.

  5. Here's the link to the lesson I'm thinking of:

    But there's no candy canes, though maybe in another of her posts?

  6. Thanks! I love it!! I got to digging in Artsonia and found the pipes I remembered -- and the candy canes, too. This is the link:
    Pipes were last year and the candy canes were 2008-9. I googled the teacher and she has interesting websites (her own and one at the school for her art room).