Saturday, September 20, 2014

Stellar 4th Grade Still Life with Vincent

4th graders have finished their still life fruit baskets that they started 2 weeks ago. I must say that I am ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE WITH WITH THESE!!! I look for excuses to walk up this hallway so I can look at them.
You can see how the lesson started by clicking here. For part 2 of the lesson scroll down on this page.

Why do I like these so much?? Well, first, almost everyone remembered to highlight where the light shone on the fruit.
 We did the first citrus fruit together so that I could remind students how to blend oil pastels smoothly and most of their shading was gradual and realistic looking.
 There were a lot of gasps as the kids finished the final layer of their shading and marveled at what they had done!
 I also love the overlapping of fruits to give the appearance of depth.
 The baskets have a nice textural look, too.
The majority of artists captured the "small brush stroke" look of Van Gogh's background, even though they were using a different medium (chalk pastels). Most also darkened the place where the two walls came together behind the fruit, giving the space even more depth.

sorry for the focus on this!

The Process:

On Day #1 the kids made their baskets and most of their backgrounds. You may recall that we were aiming to create a background with the same "feel" as Vincent Van Gogh's in Basket with Six Oranges.

At the end of Day #1 this is what we had:

 Nice layering of colors in these!!

 You'll notice that the bottom piece below has the basket glued upside down -- oops! It will be interesting to see how that gets fixed on Day #2:))
 Day #2 started with a discussion focused on this Vincent Van Gogh quote (which I saw in passing on Pinterest):
            "Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." 
I asked students what they thought this sentence meant. It was an opportunity to talk about "small moments" in story writing, the parts that make up equations, small fruits assembled to create a whole basket, etc.  What a great cross-curricular discussion!!

Well, back to art. Using oil pastels this time, students made one fruit with me modeling on the document camera and big screen.. This was my opportunity to review shading, size and the use of baby oil and stippling to give the citrus fruits texture. After making the first fruit with me, kids were on their own for the rest of their still life fruits.

 There were a few kids in each class who were thinking ahead and made the observation that they could use this technique for other art, like making planets or soccer balls. Don't you just love it when kids do that!!!
 Notice that the fruits are not diminutive in size, which is often the case. That is because I asked students to "bump" all 4 sides of their square yellow paper. I used yellow to ensure undertones for these fruits.
 As fruits were cut out, students slid them in the slit in their basket so they could visualize what other colors would look good in their basket and how they might arrange their fruits prior to gluing. The final step was to glue the fruits, using small dots of glue around the edges.

After a little time on the drying racks, it was time to display these wonderful works of art in the school's hallway!!!


  1. Beautiful! I love the way these turned out and am so impressed with the skill level your fourth graders achieved!

  2. Christie, these are beautiful. Can't wait to try it!
    It's time for our annual meeting of the art teachers!

    1. Hi Laurel -- Good to hear from you. I get to do this lesson again with 2 more 4th grade classes in two weeks -- can't wait -- it really was fun!!!
      Gosh, hard to believe it has been a whole year since the last meeting:))

  3. Very impressive Christie! They did a great job with layering of colors, light and shadow!

    1. Thanks, Mary. I have to say that as the kids started their pastel backgrounds I flashed on some of you students' wonderful pastel pieces. I haven't used pastels in years and as I was moving out of my classroom to the storage cabinets I now have in conjunction with my art cart, I came across a large collection of them I had forgotten about. I loved watching the kids apply layer upon layer, creating subtle color variations. Thanks for your inspiration!!

  4. Beautiful art! How many hours did you end up spending on these from start to finish?

    1. This was a two-session lesson. Each session was about an hour. As I recall, most kids finished within that timeframe, (but a few may have needed a bit longer for final touches). I loved watching students make their still lifes come to life!!