Monday, July 25, 2011

A Few More Buttons

I am still playing around with ways to use up my thousands of buttons (starting with this lesson here). They are merely an incidental part of this lesson -- the real focus being vertical or horizontal lines and color (either warm and cool or complementary).

Students will first decide on a color system for their piece. This sample has mostly warm colors for the flowers and a cool color for the stripes in the background. So that the watercolor petals have time to dry, they'll start cutting them out and coloring with either watercolors or markers.
The next step is to cut our thin lines from a magazine that follows their color system.
These strips can be placed vertically or horizontally (another student decision).
Stems and petals are positioned and glued.

And, finally the buttons become the center of the flowers!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What Else Does Teacher Do in July??

The best apricots available at our Farmers' Market are Royal Blenheim apricots from See Canyon, Ca. They are only available for about 3 weeks, so I anxiously await their arrival each year. Just finished my last batch of apricot preserves and I hope I made enough to get me through til next July!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Buttons, Buttons Everywhere!

I am sure we art teachers all have little (or overflowing) stashes of invaluable donated materials. One of mine is a HUGE bag of gold-tone, shank buttons given to me by a parent years ago. I have used these for countless projects and STILL have hundreds (maybe thousands) left. I have decided that this is the year to see the pile dwindle!
This is just a handful of my treasure bag of buttons!!
2nd graders have content standards addressing warm and cool colors and radial symmetry, so I have been thinking of ideas to meet those goals AND use the buttons. I also want to have kids make decisions during their art making (like real artists do) rather than present them with a "how to.." lesson. So, here goes...

We'll start with 6" square pieces of foam core board (also donated!) and three buttons. Students will decide where to position the buttons so that they are far enough away from each other so that the radial designs have room to grow and far enough away from the edges so that the designs don't immediately run off the page. I want them to push the shanks of the buttons into the foam core, marking the three spots.

Then, using a ruler and pencil they'll draw an even number of lines out from those center spots.

Next comes the drawing of line motifs with a permanent black marker, branching out from the center pieces. I would like there to be variety in these designs and students will decide how to create that. Another artist decision they will have to make will be what to do when the 3 radial designs "bump" into each other. I am going to have students figure this out for themselves.

I am going to ask kids to use warm colors (crayons) for the radial designs to contrast the final watercolor resist wash, which will be blue liquid watercolor. I am making that decision because I ordered an abundance of that color watercolor last year and I want to use up all those bottles!!!

The last step will be to glue their buttons into place and then we will probably mount the work on black a black mat board.
 I am already anxious to see what the kids come up with.
As soon as I finished working on this lesson, I, of course, thought of 2 or 3 other ways to use up these buttons. One is to use them as centers of flowers and another is to have them be hubcaps in a James Rizzi inspired landscape. Maybe these will be future posts. Hope everyone is having a fun summer!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fooling Around with Math and Art

The other day I started "foolin' around" with primary colored squares painted as a grid for a project unrelated to school. If I had had pastels at home I'd have used them, but watercolors had to suffice. Didn't like it. Then I added some inner squares -- still didn't like it. But, they did remind me of Kandinsky a bit. By then I was morphing into the "school mode."

Next, I decided to partition sections off (with no two sections partitioned exactly alike) and added some doodled borders.

By then I was thinking about representations of multiplication facts.
I added some small design motifs in the center of each square to see what that would look like and the corresponding multiplication facts around the outside border.  I am not crazy about this as a finished project, but I am liking the concept and plan to refine it for possible use with 3rd graders next year.

I think it is sometimes useful to see how an idea begins and what thinking processes go into making it a viable art project. This is one of those "in process" moments!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Pinch-Tearing" Organic Shapes -- Version#2

The thing about summer is we have time on our hands to mull over ideas (maybe too much time per idea!!). As I was driving yesterday I started thinking about my last post from a kid's point of view. It occurred to me how much happier many of my students would be to create some kind of bird or other creature using the very same skills. So I started playing around and came up with this ...
A couple of legs, a little beak and ta-da -- a bird. Think we'll do it this way with any creature they'd like!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Pinch Tearing" Organic Shapes

Thinking back over the last year, one of the skills I noticed students of all ages struggle with to some degree was that of "pinch tearing". That is what I call it, anyway. It is that type of tearing that you control carefully with your index fingers and thumbs -- as opposed to the random rips that kids are often prone to using!! So, this lesson is geared to focusing on that controlled type of tear to create organic shapes to ultimately use in a watercolor collage composition.
Pre-cutting the papers to be torn small enough for little hands to guide them is important.

I'd like kids to try tearing large, simple shapes first, just removing the cut edges of the paper. Then, those who want to get more adventurous can try making twists and turns to create more complicated organic shapes.

The next step is to paint the organic shapes. Since they will be glued on black, leaving a white border will create greater contrast.
Before gluing pieces, students may create various black and white designs in the white border to add more detail and interest.

Monday, July 4, 2011

What Does Teacher Do for the 4th of July?

What could be better than a BBQ with friends or family? This year my role is to provide the raspberry topped brownies -- YUM!! They are just cooling now so that I can top them later with the confectioner's sugar and raspberries. I am almost drooling from the aroma that is filling my home right now! Since I am still participating in the Sketchbook Challenge (see my sidebar for info) I had to record the moment. This month's sketch topic is "Elements" (which is a broad category). Of course, my mind immediately went to food! Happy 4th of July to all!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What Else Do Teachers Do During the Summer?

For as long as I can remember, summer has represented seemingly endless hours to devote to reading.This year is no exception. My stack of books to read is ENORMOUS!! These are a few that I finished recently.
I liked all of these and am passing them on to friends to read -- all except the top one. I LOVED this book, but it was such a tear jerker I am afraid to give it to friends without a warning to be prepared. Of course, the author does prepare you in the very first pages that the storyteller (a dog) is near the end of his life as he tells us the story, but I had no idea how deeply I would react. Near the end I could barely read the print through my tears!!! It is going onto my bookshelf. When I feel strong some day, I probably will re-read it because I fell in love with the dog and how he teaches life lessons through the world of car racing.