Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy Words Scramble - Results

What a fun week with 1st graders this has been!!! To start the lesson we revisited what we learned about Matisse last week and used that as a link to the art of Kim MacConnel. MacConnel's work is said to be influenced by Matisse (and Picasso). Using images on the Smartboard, students compared MacConnel's lines and colors to those of Matisse with a great deal of insight!! Yeah, 1st graders!! (see previous post for link to MacConnel's art)-- it is such a strong example of color and line design!! We talked about how artists learn from each other all the time.

The twist that we added to these collages was the use of letters to spell a "happy" word. Midway through the period, kids came back to the rug area and we played a quick game of "Hang Spider" (my non-violent alternative to Hangman -- I use a spider hanging from its web instead of a person) in which the word was s-m-i-l-e. We had a brainstormed list of other 5-letter happy words (kitty, puppy, proud, happy, mommy, dance, music, etc.). Students applied these letters to 5 circles in their collage in a scrambled form so the viewer would have to figure out the "happy word". Kids loved this puzzle aspect of the work.

I loved watching the kids create their colorful designs and all the results were pretty dynamic!! There were so many opportunities to make choices of color, line and placement during the process. I had not taught this lesson before and I think it is one of my favorites for this year!! ...And an added bonus, there are NO SCRAPS and hardly any CLEAN UP!! Whoo-hoo!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Happy Word" Collage

I have used California Artist, Kim MacConnel's design work to motivate other student work this year. His work, seen here, is terrific for pattern, design, color and space. This week, 1st graders will be working with all 4 skills as the create a "Happy Word Collage." Earlier this year I went to see the work of another local artist, Steve Roden, and was taken with one of his mixed-media paintings where he used collaged letters as part of the art. I plan to have the kids incorporate this into their collage.
Before starting, we will brainstorm a lot of 5-letter "happy" words ( ie. happy, laugh, loves, smile, etc.)
For this project, we will be starting with a 9" X 12" piece of illustration board that was donated by a local art framer ( but construction paper would work fine, too ) as the background. I pre-cut contrasting colored construction paper smaller than the board
(maybe 7"X12"), which students will cut from top to bottom however they like.
One of the great things about MacConnel's artwork, is that he paints vertical patterns that start at one end of the page and extend all the way to the opposite side. I find that with this inspiration, I don't see as many kids starting or ending lines floating somewhere in the middle of their page.

Next, they glue that first piece (or, 2 pieces, now!) onto the background, creating a space where the back shows through. I have a lot of various width strips of colored paper at this time of the year and students position those to add to their design.
I pre-cut some circles from old wall art calendars that I have been saving for years and years. Students will place those in a line design and finally use letters in them to spell a "happy word."

In this sample I put whole words in the circles, but for the actual project I will pre-print the words that students brainstormed in Times Font and have the kids cut out the letters and glue one letter in each circle, randomly arranged, so the viewer will have to "unscramble" the word. I'll post the results later so you'll see better what I have in mind.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Few More Still Life Results

1st graders finished up their still life collages today -- whew! Not my favorite thing to try to do all in one 50 min. session!!!!

I decided, though, to use them to show the kids how to make relief prints next week so they can show their parents when they take their still life home.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

1st Grade Still Life Results

First graders worked REALLY hard to finish their still life in one session today. The most challenging skill was rounding the corners on their squares to make them into circles for the orange and lemon. It is SO interesting to observe scissor skills!!

It had been 2 weeks since our last class on "light source" and shading the dark side of an object. I was pleased that most kids demonstrated that they remembered that concept and used their light icon to help them shade their fruits!
More tomorrow!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Still Life Collage

Following our last session on light source and adding value to drawings, this week we are applying those principles to a still life collage. I saw a lesson similar to this awhile ago at Mary's blog here, and thought I just had to try it with first graders. Because I wanted this to be a "one session" lesson, I changed the media we'll use to dry stuff (markers, crayon, oil pastel and cut paper).

We'll start with a Matisse inspired wallpaper, using Woman in a Purple Robe to get the idea.

For the tablecloth, students will use some old Abacus Wall Calendars that I have saved for years and years. They have great patterns and deep colors. I'll have a basket of fruit projected on the Smartboard for kids to use as a still life, so we'll apply texture to the basket shape using rubbings. I have a bunch of textured tiles and those mesh bags that lemons, limes, etc. come in for kids to use.

Next, we'll use construction paper to cut out the fruit shapes (apples, oranges, lemons, pineapple - I want the pineapple for height). Students will think about where the light is coming from as they use crayon to shade their fruits and add highlights.
Check later in the week for results!!
Have a good week, everyone.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Little Things #1 - Glue Sticks

I was having a conversation with a colleague the other day at lunch about the importance of teaching kids the "little things" that may make their artmaking (and general school work) more successful. She works with a child with special needs and sees daily how important the little steps can be. We started listing all the little things that some kids sometimes (BUT NOT ALWAYS) have learned intuitively. As art teachers, we probably see examples daily -- things like: using a glue stick, scissors, "pinch tearing", how to hold a paintbrush, using white glue, carrying scissors, etc.

I taught primary grades for years and was used to not taking anything for granted and teaching all the little steps. But this year, working again with upper elementary, I was surprised to see how many kids must have missed the lessons on the use of some of these materials. So, since this blog is (in part) for families and others who work with my students, I thought that every now and then I would focus on one "little thing" and detail how I like to talk about it. I also think it's a good idea MODEL everything I say for the kids so there are no misunderstandings.

Today, it is the GLUE STICK. First of all, I have found that not all glue sticks are made equal. My favorite right now is Avery Permanent Glue Stic. It is a small stick -- the larger ones are actually harder for kids to handle, particularly when working with small pieces of paper and small spaces. If you have other sticks you like even better, I'd love to know about them!!!

I impress on students to:
     1. Put the lid in a safe place where you can find it later (we have table trays that are
        good for this purpose).
     2. Wind up the stick a VERY little bit -- maybe 2 millimeters at a time. Otherwise, as
        the kids say, "It gets all smooshed up."
     3.  When gluing, put glue on the small piece of paper you are going to glue, not all over
        the large sheet you are gluing to. (I know that's a dangling preposition - but kids
        understand what I mean when I say it that way!)
     4. Place that small paper on the newspaper on your desk and press hard enough to
        get the glue on the paper or hold it in your hand and press hard enough to transfer
        the glue.
     5.  If the corners are popping up, add some more glue and press them down.
     6. When done, replace the cap and listen for the "snap".
     7. When a glue stick is out of glue, throw it away, instead of putting it back in the
         supply basket.
     8. We keep a basket of old caps for those times when one gets lost (which happens
     9. If your hands get too sticky after awhile, go clean them and them come back to
        continue the work.
Have I forgotten anything??

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

1st Grade Cylinder Results

Today, 1st graders used oil pastels to make their cans of food come to life. They did a pretty terrific job and loved how the cylinder suddenly took shape!!

In their next lesson, a still life, students will be applying the skill learned in this study.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Light Source for 1st Grade

First Graders are starting a new session in the Art Room this week. Like the other grades, we will be focusing on Light Source, shading, tints (Value).
Instead of bamboo, cupcakes or trees (in previous posts), this group will be looking at cans of food to see how the light hits the cylinder. Like in my other "light source" lessons (previously posted) students will use a small drawing of a light, positioned next to their drawing paper, to remind themselves where the light is coming from. (I forgot to include that in the photos below -- oops!)

We'll start with a directed lesson on lines.

Then, using oil pastels, kids will color the oval top of the can with a light color. They'll choose any color to fill in the whole cylinder.
Next they will color the side the light hits with white, right over the blue. The dark side will get a stripe of black.

The "magic" happens when they use their original color, in this case, blue, and color over the whole cylinder, blending the white, blue and black together.
The final step, if we have time, will be to add the shadow on the ground.  Following this lesson, students will be using this skill in a still life mixed-media collage for the next session.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Warm and Cool Collage Results

Following the lead of artist, Kim MacConnel here, 2nd graders are producing small abstract collages. If  you haven't checked out MacConnel's work, PLEASE DO!!!

Using small, medium and larger pieces of illustration board, students used lines and dots to create pieces of mini-art. Then they glued the small pieces on a piece of black board, using squares of foam core to give the pieces different elevations. This was the BEST DAY!! I started with a brief Smartboard lesson on warm/cool colors and then moved on to showing the kids MacConnel's work at the Felsen Gallery. They got so into their designing that nobody wanted to go to recess!!! Here are a few results

I must say, it has been so long since I've had kids working with anything non-messy, that I forgot what it was to clean up and be ready for the next class with time to spare!!