Friday, April 29, 2011

Bold Lines

Kindergarten classes will be exploring line in their individual works and also in the cooperative group experiences of combining all their lines. I think I first saw a version of this lesson on Artsonia (see here). Then I saw how Rachel S. implemented the lesson using red for her students' bold line and knew we had to give it a try. (See Rachel's blog here.)The work is inspired by the work of Sol Lewitt. You can see a brief time-lapsed video of his work here. There are more videos and sample wall art if you Google Lewitt.

Students will begin by drawing a continuous line (that does not cross itself), beginning on one side of the board and ending on another side. They will then draw another line following the first, thus, creating a "bold" line.

The next step will be to make bright lines on either side of each line, using the same color. Following that, they will keep adding lines. I'm not sure how kindergarteners will do with markers, although I would like to teach them how to use the markers to make solid, flat lines. If that is too hard, I'll alter the medium and use something else.

When all the marker lines are drawn, students will paint their bold line with black watercolor. I want to teach the kids how to use pan watercolor and rinse the brush using just one color for now. In later projects they will be using the watercolor pans and I want them to already know how to clean the brush properly.

A final step to this project is to make black and white designs in the background areas with black marker, although I am not sure that there will be time to do this with kindergarteners. Then we will display the work, lining up the ends of all the lines and see where the line takes us!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blog Award

I just got back to my computer after a week or so of being away. I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW MANY POSTS I HAVE TO LOOK OVER. I don't want to skim them because I might miss some terrific ideas, so it is going to take me awhile to get caught up.

However, I do want to thank 2 sites that sent me a Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you to Joanna at We Heart Art (check out her blog here). I especially liked her stamped branches on her Apr. 7 post and am planning to adapt that technique for a project this coming month. Thanks also to the Chesterbrook Academy Elementary School here for the same award!! Check out their posts on cats.

After thanking and responding to the blogger who nominates you, the other part of this award is agreeing to share 10 blog sites that you have recently discovered and then to share 7 things about yourself.

So, here are some Art blog sites that I have recently started following:
1. Art Dish, click here.
2. Art on the Move, click here.
3. Imagine, Explore, Create (actually I have followed this one for awhile) here.
4. Lines, Dots & Doodles, click here.
5. Outside the Lines Young Artists' Studio, click here.
6. Shine Brite Zamorano, click here.
7. Suffield Elementary Art Blog!, click here.
8. The Art Room, click here.
9. Texas Art Teacher, click here.
10 Happily Ever After - An Art Teacher's Fairy Teal, click here.

The last blog award I got, I think I got a bit wordy with the 7 things about me, so this time I am going to be very brief!!
1. I am completing my first year of official retirement(after 40 years of teaching) -- I am now the volunteer who teaches art 2 days a week at my school -- SO FUN!!!!!
2. I am currently engrossed in the NBA playoffs. I live in California, so you can guess my team!!
3. I am in the middle of crocheting a granny square quilt in Spring colors.
4. Reading is a passion.
5. My mom has been going through recent eye surgeries, so I have been called into duty as "the driver" and companion. We've had some good moments re-bonding!!
6. I am still loving the Sketchbook Challenge - check out my sidebar for details.
7. My month with Kindergarteners is coming up. It has been awhile since I've taught this age and I am looking forward to it!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Little Things #2 - Scissors

How many times have you been walking around, monitoring students at work, when suddenly you catch sight of a child wound around him or herself in some unbelievable contortion, trying to cut something out for a collage? I am not surprised to see this with young children, but when it is a 4th or 5th grader, I wonder how s/he got this far in his or her education without mastering this basic skill of cutting efficiently with a pair of scissors.

These are 3 things I have seen kids (older kids!!) doing:
     #1) Holding the scissors upside down, with the thumb in the finger hole and the fingers trying to squeeze into the thumb hole.
      #2) I see this most often. Instead of turning the paper to cut curves, children try to turn their cutting arm and end up cutting toward themselves instead of away from themselves.
      #3) I see this a LOT, too. It is hard to see in this photo. But this right handed child's pair of scissors is on the left side of the cutting line, blocking her view of the line. If she moves the blade just to the right of the line, she can see it clearly as she cuts. I have found that kids don't always "get" this concept right away when I show them the difference. It usually takes a bit of monitoring.
So, what is the cure when you are the art teacher who may not see the child consistently, or, as in my case, more than a few times a year? When there is time, I will stop, sit down and model for the student, making sure they are on the right track before I move on. Since I know I won't be able to follow up in the regular classroom, I jot it down on a post-it to mention my observations to the classroom teacher, who can then pass it on to the parent (who can be watchful and monitor at home).

I probably have overlooked some other behaviors that you have seen in your own classrooms. Anyone have any other tips for mastering "Scissors 101"?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pier Reflections Results

Our 102 year old pier is a popular destination for tourists and locals. When I asked the kids in each class who had been to the pier almost every hand shot up. They were enthusiastic to recreate it as a piece of art.

We started looking at 6 photos (from Google images) showing reflections and I asked the students to tell how the photos were alike. They got that each had buildings and water and there was someone in each class who noticed the reflections. We discussed the "wiggly" lines in the reflections. Next, we looked at and discussed photos of the pier with its colorful buildings, the carrousel building with arched windows/doors and the ferris wheel.

Then the kids got started on their buildings with me reminding them to PRESS HARD with the crayons. The last step was to use liquid watercolor and a sponge to make the sky and water. I had them use the sponge square to "stamp" the sky and then wipe on the water (so we would have different textures).

These are a a few drying on the drying rack. I guess I could have displayed these all strung together in line like the bottom three. Maybe next time!

One cool thing that happened was when I was hanging some of these pictures in the hallway.  A group of 4th/5th grade girls came by on their way to instrumental music. They stopped with an "Oh my gosh, look at these -- it's the PIER!! They made reflections! These are SO GOOD!!" The girls stopped and had a whole discussion about which classrooms had done the art, whether they knew anyone in the class, what class they were in when they were in 1st grade and how the kids make the reflections look more real. DON'T YOU JUST LOVE MOMENTS LIKE THAT!!!!

Monday, April 4, 2011


We are off to the Santa Monica Pier (artistically, that is) this week. I have seen a lot of variations of this lesson on various blogs and Artsonia. I know that Jacquelien at Kids Artists has one here, and Laugh, Paint, Create has one, too, here. Their versions are of the waterfront and Venice.

First, I have a few images of water reflections and our 102 year old pier for the kids to view and discuss. I especially want them to notice the brightly painted buildings and how the lines in the reflections are wiggly.
Then, I am having the kids start by drawing a line to delineate water from land.

Next, they'll draw the colorful buildings, using crayons.

The reflections of the buildings are also done with crayons, making the lines kind of wiggly, like they appear in water. (The half circle shape is the ferris wheel that is on our pier.)

The last step is a quick liquid watercolor wash,  with the water slightly darker than the sky. This sample doesn't yet have the water darkened.

Makes me want to take a walk down to the pier and ride on the ferris wheel!!