Tuesday, August 30, 2011

4th Grade Creations

Some of our 4th graders generously let me keep artwork they created in their regular classroom to adorn the Auditorium for the start of school. This is one wall of their work.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

100th Post - Alexander Calder

Wow! How fast a year goes by. I started this blog last September, primarily to communicate with classroom teachers in my school about the specifics of their students' lessons. Here we are, almost a year later, and while I still use this space to provide details for my own school, the reach of "Fine Lines" has sort of morphed to include parents, other art teachers and I guess people just interested in what we do in our schools.

I haven't yet started teaching kids and took advantage of this free time to visit the Orange County Museum of Art (which I just discovered recently via someone else's blog) to see a FABULOUS Alexander Calder exhibit title, Form, Balance, Joy (isn't that a perfect title??).

For a relatively small (which I like) museum, they had quite a few pieces on display. Unfortunately, they didn't allow photography, so I can't show you the terrific mobiles and stabiles I saw. You can see some of them at this link here, but I don't know whether they will keep it up after the close of the exhibition (Sept.4).

Of course, I was totally inspired and came home intent on working some of what I saw into this year's curriculum. So today, as I watched CNN and hope that all of you on the East Coast are safe, I started playing around with 24 gauge florist wire (which was what I happened to have around the house at my fingertips), some plain sewing thread and copier paper from the printer, to see how hard this would be for kids to do. Some of our 2nd graders study Balance and Motion as a Science Unit, so they have a bit of knowledge about counterweights, balance points, etc.
I started with strips of copy paper -- about 1 and a half inches wide. Then I folded up the bottom corner and cut to make a square. This is a good skill for kids to have for math (geometry).
I already had one diagonal fold, so I folded the other diagonal, too, to aid with the thought processes of patterning. 
I frequently ask students to decide on a color system for their work. For mine, I kept it simple and used primary colors. This first square had all straight lines.
This square is the back side of the the one above. Using the same progression of primary colors and a similar pattern, I used curved lines instead of straight.
Counterweights are, of course, a consideration in mobile construction, so some of my squares had to be lighter. I designed this on one square and folded it in half diagonally.
I cut my wires to about 4"-5", twisted a loop on either end and one as a fulcrum  off center.
I read somewhere that Calder worked from the inside out as he balanced his pieces. I just started with one wire until it balanced (sort of).
Then I added it to the end of my second wire and played around until I got it to balance.
I hope that my students have as much fun with this as I did. I'm thinking of using it with 4th graders and incorporating Hundertwasser. I have some other ideas how to integrate this in with the study of other artists, too. You will have to check back during the year to see where we go with our mobiles!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

All in a Day's Work!

Do we all return to our classroom to find tables strewn, chairs stacked and everything looking clean but disorganized??

It always looks much worse than it really is at first glance. It took me about 15 minutes to move furniture and restore order. But, I forgot to take a picture of the finished room!! Maybe next time.

I did snap this one board I am planning to use this year. One of my favorite books to discuss with last year's classes was Unlikely Pairs by Bob Raczka.

Instead of unlikely pairs, this board will focus on pairs of artists and their work. I printed out pictures of some artists I am featuring in lessons and pictures of one of their pieces of art. The challenge will be to match the artist to the artwork. My goal is to make these artists' names commonplace and part of our "functioning vocabulary." This will be a Smartboard lesson, too, but I like to have the pictures where kids can see them all the time and this board is right next to the door.

Most of today was spent taking down one of the Auditorium bulletin boards, removing what seemed like 1,000 staples that had been up there behind the colored backing for ages, and posting some art work for the meeting that takes place there on the first day of school. Now I only have the other half of the room to do!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm Back!!

What a blissful place!!

Back from vacation in Montana and thankfully, instead of seeing bears (like in my last post) we looked out at the same spot
to see our favorite deer waiting for us to come to the door to visit!!

We took a drive up to Big Fork at Flathead Lake one day -- so quaint...

and got 20 pounds of Flathead cherries to bring home and make into jam. Don't ask how long it takes to pit all those cherries!! Apricot jam is a whole lot easier!!

I had lots of time to see many Montana skies and take pictures. I may have the kids do some "sky" art work based on some of the photos (I'll have to think about that).

We also had PLENTY of time to play with two new kittens just getting used to their new home. This one decided to flake out on the door of the dishwasher as my sister-in-law was loading it up, and then we didn't have the heart to move him!!

Now that I am back I, like all of you, have turned my thoughts to school and how the year will start. I am getting anxious to begin again!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Montana Wildlife

I'm off for the next two weeks to visit family in Montana. They have brand new kittens that I know I'll be playing with, but let's hope I don't run into this fella.

My sister-in-law was sitting on their deck, heard a noise, and looked up to see this big guy munching on bird seed that had fallen from their feeder in that tree. They do live in the forest, but have never seen a bear up close on their property at noon. This is where I usually sit and paint. Hmmm. Not sure about that this year!!!!

Bye for a short while.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pacific Coast Regatta

Last May, Jacquelien at Kids Artists posted a collage project with sailboats that reminded me of something I saw on Mary's blog, Marymaking, back in March of 2010. Since our school is mere blocks from the Pacific Ocean, both ideas "spoke to me." I loved Jacquelien's idea of tearing the strips of paper for the water, creating the whitecaps from the tearing. Also loved the idea of sandpaper for the sand, but that is not in my budget. I also loved Mary's idea for the texturized water and the painted sails, ala Eric Carle. So I sort of combined those ideas and added a few extra touches here and there.

Our Content Standards include background, mid ground and foreground in seascapes, as well as overlapping and size difference to create the illusion of space. So, here is the variation of this lesson we will be doing in 3rd Grade this year:

On Day 1 kids will be painting water with blue and green tempera on plain copy paper (from the computer). I added some white using my new bread dough rollers (for a little extra movement).
Next, they'll use a light wash of watercolor for the sky and sponge paint on watercolor for the sand.

We may have time to start on the boats during the first session, but if not, we can make them on Day 2. Kids will cut 3 different sized rectangles for the hull. They'll need to cut a thin "mast" first, and then make 2 angled cuts to make a trapezoid.
After gluing the mast to the body of the boat, it will be time to make the triangle shaped sails. This provides an opportunity to talk about right angles and direction (a little math worked into the lesson here!). I made my sample sails from paper taken from magazines. Students can either make their sails that way, or design and color their own. I want them to think about color and pattern choices and how the placement of colors will enhance the overall piece.
The water is created by tearing semi-straight strips, which will create white edges.
I tore one plain white strip to glue on the very front to resemble waves. The trickiest part of the assemblage was gluing the overlapping strips and inserting the sailboats between them so that there would be a bit of overlap of the boats. I anticipate the gluing process to be difficult for some, so I'll suggest gluing one side of all the strips first, to give the piece some stability.
The sides cam be trimmed after all the sailboats and water strips are glued down.
My last step was to splatter some white and light blue paint to give the idea of splashing waves. (That added a LOT to the over-all effect). If we have time, we may add umbrellas, beach pails, etc. in the foreground. I am anxious to see how the kids do with this!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Experimenting with Stencils and Prints

I saw an ad for a set of 10 Dough Rollers at Lakeshore (click Lakeshore to see the set) and started thinking about using adhesive backed foam to make print rollers with them. So I stopped by the store today to pick up a set and start playing.

I began with a roller, foam and green acrylic paint to roll out a background. I wasn't sure the adhesive would stick to the plastic well, but there was no problem at all!

One thing led to another and pretty soon I had wrapped some rubber bands around a cork (from the last wine bottle I used) and tried some prints with that using red acrylic. I would probably use tempera at school, but I don't have any at home to try it out now.

I had asked my mother to save me the steamer inserts from the Marie Callender's Steamer Bowls that she was eating last week. I tried using the steamer insert holes and a stiff brush to stencil the blue design -- COOL and SO easy!!

I'm not sure how I will implement all of these, but you will definitely see them again this year!! The green reminds me of underwater plants.