Thursday, October 31, 2013

Found Poetry Becomes Art

Due to Parent Conferences this week and next week I have some time off from school, so I thought, "What better use of my time than to audition a few art projects?" In the last couple of months I have seen quite a few examples of "found poetry art" on Pinterest, so I decided to give it a try. I used to do a different version of Found Poetry, where elementary students would cut out words from a page of text and glue them down to create a new idea as a collage poem. But I had never made art out of selected words right on the original page of text. I am planning to do this with a class of 5th graders in January, so I wanted to be sure that I discovered the pitfalls before taking the idea into the classroom!!

The example above started out as a discarded science text from our school library. I was a bit doubtful that a science book would work for this, but I was amazed at the words I found as I scanned the pages. Our librarian will be saving me fiction discards that we can recycle, but I think I will ask her to broaden her search, since the science book worked just fine.

I didn't anticipate how challenging this experience would be. First, I scanned the page, looking for interesting words that might go together (trying to disassociate from the meaning of the actual text). My goal was to create a new idea, unrelated to the original sentences. This is a terrific opportunity to integrate Language Arts and a discussion of colorful adjectives and verbs. It's tricky -- try it!!!

Once I found some words I thought might work,  I underlined them using pencil (in case I wanted to change my mind). Here I used a marker so you could see the lines.

Next I circled the words I wanted to use and connected them with a line to make the thought easier for the reader to follow. This example actually came from the Sports Page of my morning newspaper. I think it helps to circle the words with a prominent color that will stand out.
The last step is to incorporate the text into a piece of art. The art could relate to the meaning of the words, or it could just be design. This would be a good time to discuss some color theory (warm/cool, complementary colors, etc) so students can attempt to create contrast in their art.

One of the things that is so cool about this project -- it is VERY open-ended!!  When I do this with students I will probably be using colored pencils, although other media would work too, depending on how absorbent the page of text is.
Sorry this last image is a bit blurry, but I think you get the idea. I am finding that this process is a bit addictive!! I want to do more with different kinds of text -- it is quite a fun challenge. I'll share what the kids come up with in January.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Op Art, Spheres and 3rd Graders

3rd graders started this lesson looking at an image of Victor Vasarely's Zebras on the Smartboard. You can see the painting and a brief article on Op Art here. We discussed the idea of "tricking the eye." Then we looked at some examples of other black and white op art, noticing how these lines all start from a point and the lines get wider as they move away from the point.
Students also started with a point and made their lines fatter at the edges of their squares (their squares measured 5 and a half inches).

Then we also looked at a tennis ball with a flashlight shining at it from one side, to see what the light source did to the ball, noticing where the lights and darks were. Students used three sizes of bottle lids to trace a large, medium and small circle. I had them draw a small sun with an arrow in the upper left hand corner to remind them where their light source was. I find this helps as children start shading.

 Students shaded the part of the circle furthest from their sun icon, using the side of their pencil lead and concentrating on curving their lines instead of going straight across the circle. They made that darkest part first and then tried to blend lighter grays as they went up. I had the kids hold a finger on the spot where the highlight would be so they would remember to keep that white. Of course, if it got colored they could always go back and erase to make that highlight.
What was tricky about this for students? Well, it is always a challenge for some to use the side of the pencil lead instead of the point. In the past, kids have wanted to shade using straight lines. This time, though most children followed the curve of the circle as they shaded -- yeah!! For some, it is hard to get the very darkest shades. After all, pressing hard and soft for different values takes practice.

I showed them how holding their spheres at arm's length helped them to see the 3-D effect. I saw a lot of children having their friends hold up their art across the table so they could appreciate the illusion. So fun to see kids cooperating!!

In part 2 of this lesson, students will add color to their spheres with crayons, cut them out and glue them (using size and position to give the illusion of depth) on their black and white op art piece. If we have enough time, some of the classes may add another colored element, too. I will share when these are done.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ornamental Corn & Crayon Resist

4th graders had one 50 minute session to create these subtly colored ornamental corn pieces. They had real corn to look at as they sketched and colored enlarged ovals to represent the kernels. (We talked about how Georgia O'Keeffe magnified flowers in her art.) Their goal was to have just 2 or 3 lines of magnified kernels.

Students sketched their large ovals first, then made a white oval in the center of each oval where the light was hitting the kernel. Next, using crayons, they shaded from light to dark to get the illusion of depth in each kernel. They left the background white because they were going to paint over the whole thing with black watercolor for all the deep shadows. 

I find that getting kids to really enlarge can be challenging. This time I had an ear of ornamental corn displayed on the big screen with the document camera. I placed a 1 inch view finder on a section of the kernels so the students could see what they were trying to replicate on their 4" squares. That helped most of them to think "MAGNIFY".

This student really got into mixing and blending his crayon colors to achieve the subtlety of the real ornamental corn colors!!

It makes me happy to walk down this corridor of the school and see these greeting me!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Yummy Quick Sketches

One of the reasons I love Fall is all the harvest foods and colorful autumnal dishes. Candy corn was pretty popular last year in art rooms. Shine brite zamorano posted some candies rendered by 1st graders (here) inspired by the wonderful photo realism of Margaret Morrison. These middle school school works were pretty impressive, too! (here) Thanks to both bloggers for the idea!!

4th graders were finishing up a project last week and we had 20-25 min. left, so I decided to do a quick candy corn lesson, focusing on just one candy projected on the big screen for all to work from. First, everyone sketched their candy corn, trying to fill their 4" X 4" square. This was a good opportunity to use math vocabulary (angles, parallel lines, diagonal, etc.)

These works were done in crayon.
They noticed the thin cast shadow on the real candy corn and tried to replicate it.

A couple of classes had a little extra time -- just enough for a quick wash of black watercolor for a resist rendering.
I actually don't much care for the taste of candy corn, but I love looking at these!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Finished Gyotaku

Well, this week we finished up our Gyotaku. Colored the eye of the fish, cut it out (throwing the wadded up scraps in the scrap bowl on the table) and glued with little dots around the edges onto the ocean scenes they made last week. (see here)