Monday, December 26, 2011

The Christmas Visitor

Hi. It's me, Max, again. You may remember me from Thanksgiving (see post here). Well, I came back for Christmas with all sorts of new ways to torment the grown-ups! I did avoid the table they had set for Christmas Eve dinner until they had finished up and left for the living room. Wasn't that nice of me? I tried to climb in the dishwasher -- they didn't take too kindly to that. But, I didn't go after the Christmas tree. They had put it up above my sight level, so I didn't really notice it. It wasn't a real tree, so the scent didn't alert me. These humans can be pretty crafty!! I REALLY got my dad's attention when I tried to find a way past the fireplace screen and climb in there. I don't know what all the fuss was about; it isn't a real wood burning fireplace so there were no messy ashes and the thing wasn't even turned on 'cause it was in the 70's outside!!

As you can see above, I did find a new "favorite spot." I discovered that the bathroom sink fit my fluffy fur shape perfectly -- just like a nest. They all came to see how cute I was in there, and it didn't seem to annoy them enough to chase me out, so I kept returning there all day.

I was so active all day that when Christmas day came I was too tired to even enjoy all the ribbons, papers, etc. I did get up from my nap long enough to discover this great bag that somebody must have gotten just for me. I'm such a lucky little dude:)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jean Dubuffet

This week 4th graders started by viewing slides of some of Dubuffet's work and discussing his progress as an artist throughout his life. I read about another Dubuffet art project a ways back HERE where the teacher posted a cool site with music also written by Dubuffet. We listened to a bit of that, too. The kids had some great comments as to how his music compared with his art!!! VERY interesting and insightful!!

We then started to work creating a Dubuffet inspired paper sculpture. I bought some 110# white cardstock for this so that it would be stiff enough to stand without sagging.

First, students got 1 piece of 8 1/2" X 5 1/2" piece of cardstock and three pieces cut 8 1/2" X about 2 7/8". They cut the three smaller pieces into organic shapes.

They cut slits where appropriate and assembled the 3 pieces to make a "base" that would balance. I had the students do these 3 pieces first for 2 reasons: 1) to make sure they used 3 pieces as a firm base and 2) in case some kids worked slower I wanted to make sure that they at least had a 3-piece sculpture. Once they had learned to assemble those 3 pieces, the larger two pieces that they would do next were pretty easy to add on.

Once students figured out their construction, it was time to add lines or design motifs. We did not stick to Dubuffet's color palette, but I did as kids to limit their palette to  2 colors, plus black.
The base is piece of 6" X 6" illustration board that was donated to us.
Some classes were taking longer to complete the coloring process, so I had them assemble the white pieces so they would understand the process. They then took them apart and took the pieces with them so they could finish them back in their classrooms. Thank you to the great 4th grade teachers who were willing to have the kids complete the work with them. This was my last day with 4th graders for this 4-week cycle, so there was not the option of finishing next week in art class!!

With winter break coming up soon, I also showed students how to take apart a cereal box and recycle the cardboard to make a sculpture like this. Here is the one I made during the last vacation at home:
I hope some of the kids try it at home!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Circle Paintings on a Windy Day

This was definitely "one of those days!!" Winds up to 100 miles an hour in Southern California, although we did not have the high winds that were predicted in our little corner of the land! That being said, on a day when I had about 125 drippy, wet, painted pieces (some large like these and some smaller projects) that needed drying space, a little breeze was welcome. I ran out of drying racks before lunch, so I strung some rope on the patio and hoped the winds would not kick up too much. (I was in luck!)

4th graders worked cooperatively in groups of 4 on circle paintings. They then took their color of paint and traded tables, so that each piece of work had 8 colors of paint. After a while I had them return to their original work to finish it up. Our focus was BALANCE (dark/light, primary/secondary, warm color, complementary colors).

We are displaying all the panels together as one, large mural. I told the kids that ultimately I would cut each work in fourths and they would each get one fourth of their original piece (they all put their names and room number on the back of "their" panel). Everyone seemed fine with that concept:)

There were a few considerations that helped the in the project's success:
1) Pre-mix enough paint to last through the day.

2)Set tables up without chairs so movement doesn't result in spilled paint. Having a meat tray under the portion cups of paint provided a resting spot for the brush that would support its weight.

3) Have sponges handy when brushes drop or paint spills ( have a carpeted room, so this is something I think about).
4) Model the process first, before kids get started. We had the rule that each person puts down their color once in the center before all 4 start to paint simultaneously. We also had the rule that you kept your own color throughout the painting time. Our third rule was that we worked from the center out, touching a color someone else had made.

5) Students discovered it was smarter to paint solid areas first and then add dots, designs, etc.
6) Really reinforce how much you value the kids' meaningful conversation about how color and design elements support making a balanced piece of art. We actually had groups of parents touring the school today for a visitation day, so in addition to the 30+ kids in the room there were 4 groups of between 10 and 15 adults coming through as we were painting. I was SO proud of the "art talks" kids were having in their groups. That, actually, is the most rewarding part of doing this lesson. I am so grateful to Barbara's Thought of the Day (here) where I first learned of Circle Painting sometime last year.
7) I showed my class some of the photos at before we started working.
I'll add the rest of the circle paintings (that are currently drying) as soon as I have them up in our hallway display case.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kittens' Thanksgiving

Hi, I'm Max. I know I look full grown with all my puffy fur, but I'm really still a kitten.
This is Cassie (who is far smaller and daintier than I am). She is a bit older and wiser than I am, but still a kitten, too.
We got to visit "Aunt Christie" for the first time this Thanksgiving. I heard that she put all the "valuables" away or out of my reach before I arrived. But I still found plenty of stuff to explore. For instance, there was her Thanksgiving centerpiece that she featured in her last blog post. It had all these great sprigs of hard, red, berry-like things sticking out of it.
I discovered that I could hop up on the table (which seemed to annoy everyone in itself), remove each sprig carefully (so I didn't break them) and bat them onto the floor. When they came after me saying "No, Max!" I raced away and hid in the bathtub. Aren't I just too clever?!

I am back home now, so Aunt Christie can clean up after the feast, but I am already thinking about what mischief I'll get into the next time I visit.  Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend:)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Floating Spheres/Op Art - First Results

3rd graders had one class period (50 minutes - less clean-up time) to complete this project. We did not get to the last phase (as posted here) so we just took our squares with spheres and glued them (slightly askew) on a piece of 6" X 6" illustration board. Luckily I had these 6" X 6" squares (donated and pre-cut) in my closet to whip out. I put an assortment of colors on the rug and kids chose the color they thought went best as a background for their own work. I liked the decision making conversation that took place as they accomplished this last step:)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tints and Shades Results

3rd and 4th graders finished up their cylinder projects. Kids seemed to stick to the ideas that were originally brainstormed (snakes, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, paintbrushes), although one boy decided to try baseball bats (sorry, didn't get a photo of it). A few tried adding erasers to the other end of their pencils and tails for snakes. It was fun to see the results and I love the composition of almost all of the pieces.

An added bonus was hearing 5th graders walking down the hallway past the display, "oohing and aahing" and remembering when they used the same technique to make bamboo drawings last year. Music to an art teacher's ears:)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Floating Spheres

I have seen a lot of examples of "floating spheres" on the internet (Artsonia, blogs, Google images) and can't believe that in all my years of teaching I have never tried them with my students!! Well, this is the week!

I've played around with various versions all week-end and finally settled on one that builds on last week's lesson where we shaded cylinders and ultimately arranged them "outside the frame". Our spheres (or at least one or two of them) will be outside the parameters of the original square.

We'll start with a small square (probably 5" X 5"), make a vanishing point and then extend wavy (or straight) sections outward to color.

Next we'll make some spheres using pencil and crayon.

We'll cut them out and glue them on our initial square.

Then the real fun starts. I want the kids to place their square randomly on their larger paper and extend a few of their black rays changing the color to a color from the color wheel. Ideally, they will be able to choose colors demonstrating some knowledge of Color Theory (ie. primary, secondary, warm, cool, etc.). If there is time we will also be shading the edges of the colored sections to give them some dimension.

After gluing the original square in place, students will have the choice of cutting out and gluing the whole thing on another paper. Voila! Hope it all works in 45 minutes!:)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cylinder Shading Progress

We are not quite finished, but I am LOVING the art that 3rd and 4th graders are making following the lesson in my last post. Here are a few works in progress:

Below are a few pieces that are finished, matted and ready to hang. This was a 3rd grade class that was making "tools we use in the art room" as their theme.
Needless to say, these boxes of pristine oil pastels no longer look like this -- they are looking WELL-USED!!!

I'll post more next week when we have finished. Have a great week-end:)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shading Cylinders

Last year about this time, motivated by Kathy at Art Projects for Kids and a couple of Artsonia posts, our 3rd graders were shading cylinders to look like bamboo shoots (see here). I loved the results and wanted to revisit this skill with them as 4th graders, only with a new twist. We'll be taking a look at Dale Chihuly's video clip in his website where he is shading some cylinders using charcoal and we'll also see how some of Wayne Theibaud's cylinders show a light source and shadows.

After brainstorming what some different cylinders are, students will be using their light source icons, colored cardstock and oil pastels to shade and tint cylinders that "go off the page." I use cardstock from an office supply store because I like the smooth texture. (I've tried this with construction paper, but don't like it as well.)
Here is an example of the steps using reptiles:
The first step is to make a vertical section of the reptile's body, using a main color (or colors) of oil pastels.
The next step is to color white oil pastel in a vertical strip on the highlighted side and black on the shaded side. This can be messy because it will be covered in the next step.

This is the fun part. I tell the kids "It's where the magic happens!" They use their original color(s) of oil pastels to color over everything again, smearing or blending the white and black into the mail color. It helps to do this with horizontal strokes.
Then come the heads. Measuring the width of each reptile where they will be connected, students use the same technique to make the head look 3-dimensional, too.
They will glue the head on the back of the main paper and then glue the whole thing onto a background color.
Other options of cylinders might be pencils, paintbrushes, crayons, etc.

We'll see what students come up with. The possibilities are endless!!
Check back later in the week for student work.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

3rd Grade Regatta Results

3rd graders finished up their regatta collages this week. I pretty much followed my plans posted here.  The only change I made was to use a triangle template as a viewfinder to help the kids see where stripes might be as they cut out sails from magazine pages.
You can see it on the left in the photo below. I marked where the mast would be with a yellow marker so students wouldn't be confused. This worked REALLY well and they were delighted to move it around and try out different sail possibilities!

Skills learned in this lesson centered around perspective: that close-up objects are larger and placed near the bottom of the seascape (by the sand) and that boats that are farther away should be placed nearer the sky. Because the "water" was torn into strips, it was easy for the kids to place their boats appropriately. (The other focus skills are listed on the bulletin board photo below.)

I wasn't intentionally working on creating "motion" in the art, but as students tipped their boats and applied the splatter, I think many accomplished just that - an added bonus!!