Friday, December 31, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I hope everyone had (and is still having) a great holiday. It will be another week before I'm back to school with kids' art to share, but I came across this bit that I forgot to post earlier in the month.

OK, so it's not totally related to art lessons, but it may give students a different perspective to think about.  I was recently at an estate sale browsing through a room filled with books and old photos. The lovely colored picture on the front of this book caught my eye.

I started flipping through it and realized that it was a 1938 art/activity book for kids titled, The Home University Bookshelf.  I snapped it up, anxious to take it to school to share with my students the pictures of what kids in the 1930’s did for entertainment (before computers, TV, etc.).  It is really a charming book.  
Here are a few of the pictures:

My brother and I used to try all sorts of these hand shadows!!
I thought it was cool that the book was designed for boys and girls with cooking, sewing, woodworking, and building model airplanes as well as art and activity pages all in one place.  Here is a type of page I can remember doing in my childhood -- finding what is wrong with the picture.  Remember these??  Sort of like an old fashioned Where's Waldo!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Have a Wonderful Holiday

My mom made this hanging for me several years ago and I loved it so much that I'd leave it hanging long after the holidays were over -- like until August!! So this year I asked her to make me one for the other seasons, too!! Aren't mothers wonderful?!!

I hope that you and your families enjoy the good cheer of the holidays as much as I will with my family!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Home Art Supplies

This post is mainly for PARENTS but I'll bet other teachers of art have ideas they would probably add to my "Home Basics" list:
When I think back on my childhood, it seems that we always had basic art supplies around for a rainy day project, even though we definitely lived on a budget. I am often asked what I think kids should have at home to aid in creativity, so here is the beginning of a list. (A walk through any art or craft store would surely turn up many more items for a list, but these are basics that one could get in a drug store.) Aside from spending money, though, this is also a perfect time of the year to save gift wrapping discards and newspaper inserts to add to your child's art stash. Any of the items on my list would be great stocking stuffers, too!!!

Papers - good drawing or watercolor paper OR plain paper from you printer, newspaper,
     magazines, cardboard (think all those packaged foods in you pantry), old sheet music,
     old playing cards, old wrapping paper, junk mail, discarded paper from Mom or Dad's
     work, etc.
     You might ask about the junk mail and old magazines. I use them all the time to paint
     over with acrylic paint. Great artists reused canvases, so why shouldn't I help our
     landfill problem! Great art paper is a luxury and wonderful to have, but not a
Pencils and sharpener
Crayons - just the basic colors
     The big, fancy boxes are fun, but not necessary. Kids can
     use what they know about the color wheel to mix the colors they need.
A set of basic colored water soluble markers
a black marking pen
Pair of scissors
White glue (like Elmer's)
Glue sticks
     (good ones that actually stick!! I like Dennison's)
Tape - Scotch, masking, etc.
Student Watercolor Set - 8 colors
     I like Prang and Crayola. I particularly like sets with white lids so kids can really
     see the colors they are mixing.
Scraps of fabrics and yarns (if you are lucky enough to know someone who sews or
     OK, so this one isn't exactly a basic, but it sure helps with collages and weavings!

Not only will these supplies work for creating fun art, I think they are necessities for producing quality work for those more elaborate school projects or homework assignments. A medium sized drawer, or even a shoebox would be great for teaching organizing skills and having all supplies in one place.  Happy Creating!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teacher's (and parents') Delight

This time of year it takes me twice as long to read the morning paper because I am ever on the look out for colorful enclosures to use for artsy purposes.
The ad magazines and full page adds are SO plentiful that my collage/scrap box is overflowing. You'd think that would be enough, but noooo...
What does it say about me when I start selecting the packaged foods I buy for the colors of their boxes?!!

If I am to believe my weather person on TV, much of the country is either already or about to be gripped by cold or wet weather and a lot of kids are going to be wondering what to do with their time indoors. Well, here is the answer -- use what's in the house already and see what you can create. 

With teaching on hold until January, shopping and decorating done, and presents wrapped, 

(I can't even BELIEVE I'm this far along this year) maybe I'll even see what I can do with some of these household finds.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lines and Circles Results

4th graders were really intrigued with how the lines for this project were made. (See last week's post.) I wish we had had just 15 more minutes so that all kids could have made multiple lines and circles. Even so, while my prime objective was complementary colors, I loved how children considered composition as they placed their lines and circle(s). What fun!! I will definitely do this again in the future!

The folding was a bit tricky for a few, but once one person at each table "got it" they were able to act as experts and help others. I had the kids start by making their circle drawing first so that they finished and moved on to the lines at different times. Since they reached the folding stage at staggered times I could pretty easily get to those who needed help quickly. There was that wonderful "aha moment" when kids saw how the folds ended up showing both colors.

Hi There!

Art Teacher Blog Directory 

Here is an opportunity to connect with other art teachers and the blogs they write.  If this sounds interesting, visit the Vivid Layers blog to read more about it. I couldn't figure out how to post it to my blog, so I will just be checking back with Vivid Layers to keep in touch.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Action Figure Results

This was a week for 4th graders to finish up a couple of projects. The action figures that we started 2 weeks ago are up in the display case. I posted this lesson earlier.

Using Matisse as a model, I asked children to design color systems that they could explain in each of their background sections. It was fun to walk around and have them articulate their thinking (some being more complicated than others).
This was early on when their figures were on the drying racks. I made these racks last summer out of strips of wood (I forget the kind) that the lumber yard recommended and window screening. The racks stack so I can accommodate as many kids as necessary.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lines and Circles

The inspiration for this project came from a couple of places. I first became aware of the circle designs of Kaffe Fassett in my knitting and quilt making years ago. He actually works in many varied media now. See his website here. I knew I wanted 4th
graders to work with similar circle designs. Then I saw a line project at Artsonia ( Elsmere Elementary School, Delmar, New York) that I thought would go well with our circles. See their projects here.

We have been working on complementary colors and many of my students are still working on mastering the concept, so this will help to reinforce that.

We'll start by choosing 2 construction paper strips that are complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel) and carefully fold them in half lengthwise.
Next, students will make cuts along one side ONLY to the fold.
They will fold the flaps alternately in opposite directions, keeping the two colors together.
We'll use white glue on each flap.
I am asking students to start their line at any edge and make it curve.  Any additional lines must also start at an edge and touch another line.  I am trying to avoid random, floating lines and set up a connected design.
Finally, children will use a black marker to draw a circle design, starting in the center and working outward.  I am asking that they use the colors in one of their lines in their circle design.  Actually, I am hoping that we can accomplish all this in our 50 minute session, but realistically, I am not sure that everyone will get to the circle part. But, we'll see!! I thought this was fun to make. It actually got me started making mandala designs in my own art journal. I hope the class will like it as much as I did!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Forest Results

4th graders have been focusing on light source to make the trunks of their trees look like cylinders with dimension.  Using Google images of forests as their guide, they learned to use complementary colors (opposites) on the color wheel to make different browns and "wet on wet" watercolor to shade the dark side of their trunks. This was a follow-up lesson to the bamboo stalks where kids shaded cylinders using oil pastels. I found a lot of students went to get the little "light" icons we used in that lesson to remind them where the light was coming from. I posted the original "forest" lesson with all the steps a few weeks ago, but thought you might like to see some of the results:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Celebrate Color!

Aren't these colors just fabulous?!! This is an ornament I found at Anthropologie.  It was almost love at first sight.  I HAD to have it. It found a spot on my cedar chest (which is my coffee table).

Near it on the chest was this bowl, looking like it needed something.
So, in went the ornament.
It looked pretty forlorn and lonely and I started envisioning the bowl filled with needle felted color.  But at $16 per ornament, buying a bowlful seemed a bit extravagant and besides, I didn't want them all to look exactly the same. So ---- a bit of research and a few trips to yarn and craft stores resulted in a lot of little felt balls.
Then I advanced to making large balls with different layers of color inside so that when you cut them open you see all the layers -- THAT was fun!!

I am not sure what is next, but I am finding this needle felting is pretty fun to do and satisfies my need to do something with yarn in front of the fireplace without having to commit to knitting something! The needle is sharp and I definitely have the puncture wounds to prove it, so having the kids make them is out. But, you can be sure that these will be the inspiration for some future art project in the classroom -- maybe tie it to Kandinsky!!