Sunday, September 27, 2015

Art for All

This morning I was watching a Sunday Morning segment celebrating that Los Angeles has a new art museum, The Broad Contemporary Museum, to visit (for free, even!!) when they flashed this trivia fact on the screen:

There are approximately 850 million visits each year to American museums, more than the attendance for all major league sporting events and theme parks combined.

Isn't it a wonderful to know that art in America is so appreciated and accessible?!! Just think, some of those art museum visitors art the artists that we teach!!

Link to The Broad:

Monday, September 21, 2015

Colored Pencil Chevrons in 45 Minutes (or less)

Here is a quick, one session exercise to practice value with colored pencils.

Start with grid paper and mark the points of the chevron like this:

Kids can use a ruler, or just a little pre-marked index card like above.

Once the lines are drawn, the coloring begins! I like the idea of starting with 3 distinct areas to color -- that is 3 different values (light, medium, dark), but you could have students create a greater number of values if you like, but that can be trickier. I think this is a good time to talk to kids about controlling the pressure they put on their pencil (or crayon, if you like that media better).

When the chevrons are colored, cut them out.

Then the fun begins as students arrange the chevrons to make an endless number of designs. I like to share quilting examples at this point for inspiration. The first examples below are using the six primary/secondary colors.

This one is a bit more intricate, using overlapping chevrons to create smaller triangles.

Of course, you can use fewer numbers of chevrons to make quicker designs. This 4-chevron one emphasizes warm and cool colors.
There are MANY quilting books for kids out there, but I particularly like using the book, Eight Hands Round, because it is an alphabet book of different quilt blocks that can lead to many other shapes to explore!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Floating Spheres at MacArthur Park

For the past week the idea of painted spheres has been floating around in my mind -- just like the painted spheres floating at MacArthur Park (link to post) that I posted about a week ago. In thinking about doing a sphere project with kids, I decided to try out some different media.

I almost never have kids do a project that I haven't experimented with first -- unless it is purely a "discovery" experience. Good thing I tried this one out because my first idea was a flop -- which I am happy to share to spare anyone else from having to try it!!

I thought about tracing circles on the back of wrapping paper, then flipping the paper over and making black lines to define shapes (like the spheres in the lake) and shading the sphere to make it look 3 dimensional. To add to the dimensional illusion, kids would glue the spheres overlapping on (and in slits in) painted acetate.

Well . . .  the tracing part went just fine.
 Then things started to go south! Once I turned it over and tried to color with black on the wrapping paper, the slick surface of the paper got in the way and was tough to get really black; shading for depth was a nightmare (see red sphere below). So I decided to try it on the back side of the wrapping paper (below, left). Again, the slick surface made the color look washed out -- and there is almost nothing I dislike more than faded looking color!!! I tried it with oil pastels -- same thing (and I didn't want this to be a painting project, so I didn't get the paints out!).

OK. Then it was on to the acetate -- except I was doing this over Labor Day weekend and couldn't find any acetate at home, so I tried it with plastic wrap, UHG!! I managed to get through the process, but it would be way too hard for little ones as it kept moving all over the place.
I used acrylic for this. Sorry for the blurry focus!
 Once it was dry, I made some slits in it so the spheres could slip in and look like they were submerged a bit. That part was actually OK.

So then I decided to try making the spheres on regular drawing paper and coloring with oil pastels. This worked much better. This would be a good way to have students practice using different color families (primary, secondary, warm/cool).

Warm colors -- solid

Primary colors (plus a surprise pop of secondary)
 I like to show students how Van Gogh used a "surprise pop of a different color (think about his "Irises" with the one white iris in the field of violets) and invite them to "surprise their viewer" by inserting an unexpected color.

This shows primary with a "pop" of secondary.
Finally, I imagined what these spheres would look like if I used painted papers that I always have accumulated in  
Spring. So, of course, I painted some papers to try that out using warm colors.

A few trees in the background . . . hmmmmm . . . maybe.

 Black outlining for the spheres . . . seemed like a good idea at first, but looking at it now, maybe not.

So what did I learn this Labor Day?? 
  • I learned that painting spheres is still fun (I always do     some sort of sphere work each year -- see here and here.) 
  • I reaffirmed that auditioning art lessons at home is always a good idea before taking them to the classroom. It's good to know what some of the pitfalls might be!!
  • Think I'll try painting left-over laminating film for my water feature before springing for buying acetate. That might work better!
  • I'm also thinking that this would be a smashing collaborative project, where kids could design spheres and make a GIANT lake collage with them!!
Isn't it fun that we can keep on learning forever??!!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Painted Spheres - Community Art

Imagine this:  you are driving down Wilshire Blvd.,a major east-west artery in Los Angeles, wending your way through a dense mixture of commercial service stores and higher rise office buildings. As you round a slight bend in the road and glance to the right, the space opens up and you are greeted by an explosion of floating color. 

Well, that is exactly what happened to me last week. The surrounding area looks kind of like this:

The lake at Macarthur Park is filled with hundreds (one paper reported there were up to 3,000) large inflated floating spheres that have been painted with riotous color. 

The spheres range from 3’ to 6’ in diameter. This temporary public art was installed by a group called Portraits of Hope and will be available for viewing for another couple of weeks. 

This link will give you an idea of the size of the spheres and the painting process:

Portraits of Hope has been in existence since 1995 and has organized many of these exhibits, including painted panels on the outside of a local oil derrick at Beverly Hills High School, painted life-guard stations at the beach and even painted blimps!! The organization serves youth facing socio-economic, physical and mental challenges and has developed special brushes so that adults and children with physical limitations can participate in the team painting projects.

When a friend and I went to check out a new shopping center near us in El Segundo a week or so ago I spotted these panels that reminded me of the spheres. 

Sure enough, a quick Google search revealed that they were painted by Portraits of Hope, too!!!

Now, every time I see one of these installations, I smile!

If you live in the area, and haven't seen the spheres yet, I recommend taking a little drive so that you can experience the happy feeling, too!!  It might be a perfect Labor Day drive:)) And then, of course, try drawing/painting  some of these spheres when you get home!!