Sunday, September 10, 2017

Dots and Colored Stripes

With International Dot Day coming up this week I thought it might be fun for students to experiment with color and 3 different media choices.

Years ago a parent gave me a large collection of buttons that I still have not exhausted, even though I have used them to start several art projects. I thought they could be the starting dot.

To introduce the stripes, David Shannon's A Bad Case of Stripes provides the perfect springboard to discuss color theory (whatever aspect is appropriate to the grade level, i.e. warm/cool, complementary,  primary/secondary/tertiary, tints/shades, etc.). This book also is about not letting others influence your choices and being true to yourself, also a nice trait to relate to art.


The project is for each student to start with a 6" X 6" board (or paper) with a button "dot" glued near the center. The student then makes concentric circle stripes around the dot using one of 3 media: watercolor marker painted over with clear water, water soluble wax pastels colored pencils painted over with water, or plain watercolor. Of course, you could use whatever media you like. I chose these because they allowed me to teach primary students how to use a paintbrush correctly with attention to direction of line when using it. Lessons here, and here. I like for kids to experiment to find colors they like to have next to each other.

           Watercolor Marker (Crayola) painted over with water.

             Water soluble Wax Pastels painted over with water.

              Pan Watercolors
              For this version I like to require students to use the lid of 
              their pan to mix new colors to use.

Just imagine a whole bulletin board of these displayed as a collaborative work!!!!  Happy Dot Day everyone (this Friday)!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Dot Day Audition

A short walk from school we have a wonderful park overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In that park is a bush I think of as "the polka-dot bush" just waiting to be the inspiration for a piece of art to celebrate  International Dot Day (Sept. 15, 2017). This day celebrates Peter Reynold's book, The Dot. It is kind of hard to see the blossoms in this photo, but up close they really do look like polka dots!! Also, beyond the fence in the background is the ocean.

I like to ask students to imagine what this landscape would look like if we removed all the bushes, the trees and the fence. We might have something that looked like this:
This first layer was done with pastels, softened by smearing them with a tissue. Then we start adding the trees, bushes, walkways, etc. using water soluble crayons(that can be painted over with water if desired) for everything except the front bush. That is done with cake tempera, sponge painted on ( although regular tempera or acrylics would work, too). This is a good opportunity to use art vocabulary: background, mid-ground and foreground.
Meanwhile, the paper for the dots is painted, using warm colors and allowing the colors to run together a bit. This was also done with cake tempera. Branches are added with crayons.
Students are asked to cut circles of different sizes, trying to include a variety of colors. They can use lids to trace the circles, but they can also cut freehand.
The last step is gluing on the circles to complete the polka-dot bush.
An option would be to outline the dots with a marker as seen in the example on the right below.
I'm not sure which Dot Day projects I'll use this year. I have some other options here, and here, and here.

Hope everyone is off to a great new school year!!!!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Summer Reading, The Final Days

With summer vacation winding down, I thought I would post the final books I read this summer:

1) Actually, The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova, was the first book I read this summer. I loved it!! So suspenseful!!
2) The Orphan Master's Son is the book my Book Group is reading   for our September meeting. It took me awhile (about 200 pages) to get into it, but I am glad I persevered. It is about North Korea, a country I didn't really know all that much about. With North Korea being reported on at the top of almost every news cycle right now, this book provides background to inform my thinking. Warning: it is pretty brutal!!

3 & 4) Our local high school has incoming 10th graders reading Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five this summer and I was asked to work with a former student as he read it. Talk about brutal!! It actually has parallels to The Orphan Master's Son in the way the novel is constructed, but reading them back-to-back was anything BUT light summer reading!! So I took a break and checked out David Baldacci's The Last Mile from the library. It is a follow-up to his book, Memory Man, about a detective who, due to an accident, has a photographic memory (as well as some other distinctive characteristics). A typical quick summer read!

5) Right now I am reading Jennifer Egan's, A Visit from the Goon Squad. I am close to half way through it and liking it a lot!

I drove by school yesterday and they were scurrying around getting ready for our August 22 opening. They painted  all the rooms and installed new windows, so you can imagine what it will be like for our teachers to unpack stored materials and get their classrooms ready - all in about a 4 day period!!

I'm not ready to think about that just yet -- think I'll go back to my book!!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Another Summer Read

My friend, Hallie, has a new book out and it is a delicious suspense novel that you can read in just a couple of days. I just realized yesterday that we will back to school in a month and my stack of books to read is every bit as tall as it was at the beginning of summer!!
Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer:)))

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

An Art Teacher's Summer Read

If you haven't read Christina Baker Kline's A Piece of the World, you might want to check it out from your local library and sink into it. Kline is true to history for much of this work of fiction, based on the life of Christina Olson, the subject of many Andrew Wyeth paintings, including the well known, Christina's World. It was my book club's pick, and I got the honor of leading our discussion -- what a treat!!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Mini Camouflage Abstracts

Our last project of the year was this little camouflage abstract. 

I say camouflage because each little painting started with a cut-out from a cereal box or catalogue that was glued in the center of the 6" square illustration board. I had a lot of precut recycled cut-outs so kids had quite an assortment to choose from. I tried to have some with several colors and some with only 2 or 3 for kids who wanted something easier.

Then, using Sharpie pens, the kids extended lines from the cut-out to the edge of the board wherever two colors met. You can see what I mean in the above photo. Where the red changes to white, that is the start of one Sharpie line. Kids just moved their finger around the edge of the cut-out, looking for where one color met another.
I also made the rule that one Sharpie line could not cross another.

Then students used water color to try to mix the exact color on the cut-out and extend that color out to the edges of their board. I also said they, as artists, might choose to leave some sections white.

You can see in the first painting in the above photo how this student worked to achieve the variations of blue. These were done by 2nd graders and the concept of making tints using more water instead of adding white was a new skill for many!!

I love the graphic variety in these little gems!! I also told the kids that one of the reasons we were doing them now, was to remind them that they could easily do pictures like these at home during the summer using recycled cut-outs to start them out.

This is one of those absolutely "no fail" projects where everyone is successful. I think they did a GREAT job -- as I look at the photos above I am having a hard time finding some of the camouflaged shapes and I know where they are!!!!

Happy Summer!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Math Doubles to Art Doubles

A little while ago 2nd graders were working on learning their doubles math facts (i.e. 4  + 4 = 8, 6 + 6 = 12. etc.) so we decided to make a mini art project to reinforce the facts that they found the hardest for them to remember. We started with building several equations using Unifix Cubes and Pattern Blocks.

Then I read them the book, Two of Everything, to really cement the idea of doubling a number.

In this book there is a magic pot that doubles anything that falls into it. So this was an opportunity to teach kids how to use oil pastels to make a 3-D looking pot using shading techniques. See here for more directions.

Next, students made two sets of matching objects or people to represent their doubles equation. For people they used paint to print the faces and then crayons and Sharpies for the rest of their drawing.

I had them write the addition equation on a red strip and the matching multiplication equation on green ( just to link the concepts).

Here are a few of the finished projects:

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Presidents' Day Art & Math with Quarters

Here's a fun way to learn about quarters for both math and art. 

I actually started thinking about this awhile ago when I drove by this wall art in the neighborhood.

The lesson starts out with the kids creating the background so that it can dry by the time they are ready to glue on their coin rubbings. This background is wet on wet watercolor.

Then students get to the real work. Using my favorite PRANG colored pencils, they rub the heads side and the tail side of various quarters, noticing all the details. Working in small groups, and using small magnifying glasses, each group records everything they see on their coins on a record sheet.

Later we record their observations in chart form and discuss them. We actually do this for all coins at another time and have the charts to compare what kids find on them all.

Quarters are such great coins to study since they have started being minted for each state. Depending on the age and skills of your students you can decide how much research to have them do as they discover phrases on some of the state quarters. For example, the Hawaii 2008 coin has Hawaiian words that kids can look up on the computer to find the translation. For those of you who are curious, the Hawaiian translation is "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness." Nice, huh??!!

You can also decide whether to have kids label their rubbings and how detailed to be. Another option is to have students color in each state on a U.S. map to match the color of their rubbing:

I am getting ready to this with 2nd graders and will share some of their art results as they are available. I should mention that I also plan to extend this lesson in math to augment place value/tens and ones work that these students are doing.

Happy Presidents' Day -- hope you enjoy celebrating on your 3 day weekend, too!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Pastel Snow People Mural

Here in California we are having our version of a cold weather winter (rainy and in the 50°s). So it seemed a good time to work with 2nd graders on shading spheres to make snowmen!!

You can see how students used pastels to shade the spheres of the their snow people.

After cutting out their people, kids colored and cut out details ( hats, arms, scarves, etc) to glue onto them.

Some students made larger snowmen/women and others made smaller ones. As they went out in the hallway to add their people to the mural, the smaller people were placed to appear further back, giving the landscape the appearance of distance.

The last step was to add snow, which they did by stamping small circles using the handle of a paintbrush and white tempera paint. Of course, we did this on our coldest day of year so far!!
This lesson, like the last one I posted, was based on the book, Snowmen at Night.

As an aside, when I left school after finishing up the mural I went for a quick walk between the thunder showers to share with you. We had a bit of wind the night before, thus the fallen palm fronds.