Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Winter Pastel Landscapes

For this 2-day project, 3rd Graders started by observing the snowmen in the book, Snowmen in the Night, noticing how the light shining on the spheres of the snowmen created a 3D impression. We also noticed how the snow was shaded in various places. There are many scenes in the book to observe how large snowmen appear closer and are placed near the bottom of the page, and smaller snowmen placed higher on the page give the appearance of distance. We discussed foreground, mid-ground and background in landscapes.

I demonstrated how students could cut a  9" X 12" piece of white drawing paper to create 2 pieces that would be their snow and a center piece that we would use for one of the snowmen. I had some extra smaller pieces of white paper for those who wanted to make a smaller snowman.

Students positioned one of the side pieces above along the bottom of their landscape paper and the other one overlapping it on the other side to create two hills of snow, one behind the other. A few kids had trouble with how to do this spatially. 

They shaded the back hill where it met the front hill. (See examples further down.)

Next we used the center piece of drawing paper to make a snowman, shading one side where the moonlight would not be hitting it. The only tip here is to ask kids to use the side of their pastel and not to press too hard. They blended the pastel with their finger. I had an assortment of blues, purples and grays for them to choose from.

Students used their scraps to color accessories, using plain crayons. I had them use glue stick to affix the snow and snowmen before they started the caps, scarves, etc. They colored and added those as they went. They used pastels to make a moon in the sky.

On Day 2 students used white tempera and pastels to create trees in the distance. They dip the pastel in the paint and, starting at the bottom of the tree, zig zag up and down from left to right. When they no longer see white, it is time to re-dip. They move up the tree making each layer a bit shorter, until they reach the top of the tree. This is a fun technique that can actually be used to make a whole snow scene, people and all!

Of course, kids invariably found their own way to make trees, which is just fine!

The final step was to add snow. We used the white tempera and applied it by stamping with a cotton swab. I cut those in half, since they really only need one side. Might as well conserve when we can!!

Can you find the little guy wearing a sombrero? LOVE IT!!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fall Leaf Art - Audition

Fortunately I have some great trees right outside my home that I can visit to collect motivation for this leaf painting project. 
 Last year I used them for this totally different kind of lesson (here).

This year kids will be using the leaves to experiment with mixing primary colors to make the colors they see in the real fall leaves. Part one of the lesson is to encourage students to keep some colors clear and strong as they paint, rather then ending up with a muddy mess. To do this they start with 4 blobs of yellow in each of 4 quadrants (good math vocabulary) of their newspaper. They have the other 2 primary colors (red and blue) to mix in with the yellow to create their fall colors.
 I like using newspaper for this because a) it provides some texture to the leaf, b) it allows me to reinforce that we can recycle and use found papers at home rather than buying paper to use, and 3) it is really easy for little hands to cut.
On a separate sheet of newspaper kids can experiment with mixing any combination of the three colors, discovering that this is where brown comes from!! Once one discovers it, they all catch on and the muddier the better! Success for everyone.
While these color sheets are drying, each student gets a piece of card stock to experiment with watercolors. This can be done on the same day or a second day, depending on your time constraints. I actually like to do these on two different days, making a whole lesson on the differences between painting with tempera/or acrylics and watercolor. This is also a good time to let kids experiment with what happens when you blot watercolor with plastic wrap, sprinkle salt on it, or spray it with water drops.
When all the painted papers are dry, the composition begins. Kids can trace around the real leaves to make the leaves they will cut out. They can also paint the back of real leaves with various colors (I used white here) and make leaf prints.

When leaves are cut out, students can experiment with composition. I like to talk about size, direction of leaves, and overlapping, depending on the grade level. Sometimes I like to talk about setting one leaf apart (that is why there is only one white leaf in my sample) like Van Gogh had just one white iris in his painting of irises.
I am thinking about having kids cut out around the blue area and gluing the whole thing on another piece of board, like this:
. . . but I haven't quite decided about this step yet:)  That is what auditions are for!!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Pathway of Dots

After reading Peter Reynold's book, The Dot, last week 3rd graders designed dots in a segment that was to become a larger, collaborative "pathway of dots."

 They used a color system of cool colors to create the path and warm colors with a cool center to design their dots. The actual lesson can be found here. The only addition I made to that lesson was to have students use their 4 fingers (not including their thumb) to measure the width of their pathway. That gives the path continuity when putting the segments together.

Kids LOVE seeing how the segments can be attached in different ways! This is fun for them to do on the rug in groups before it actually goes up on the wall!!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Another International Dot Day Audition

Am I obsessed with Dot Day or what??!! There are just so many places you can go with dots that I find it hard to decide which ideas to use in the classroom. Here is another project that I am thinking about for this year. It is a collaborative effort I am calling Dot Pathways.

This lesson requires simple materials which you can see in the photo below. I like Crayola watercolor markers.

The pathway starts with two watercolor marker lines creating a "channel" within which students will draw and design their dots, using either warm or cool crayons. 

Notice that the marker lines are either warm or cool and all but the very center of dots are the opposite (warm/cool).

Once the dots are designed, kids use a paintbrush and clear water to draw the watercolor marker into the pathway and the background. This is a good opportunity to talk about using just the tip of the brush and which direction to draw out the water. I like to have them paint the pathway quickly with plain water before drawing the watercolor color into the water.

When all is dry, students can join their pathways to create a whole collaborative network of paths.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Oil Pastel Dots for Dot Day - Art Audition #2

With September just around the corner, it's time to start thinking about International Dot Day to celebrate Peter Reynold's book, The Dot. Each year I get engrossed in thinking about all the wonderful possibilities of tying art lessons to this fabulous little gem of a book, and this year is no exception. You can see previous years' lessons here, and here.

The first idea I am auditioning for this year is this simple (and quick) lesson that will introduce oil pastels and pinch-tearing all at the same time.

The supplies are simple: 9 X 12 construction paper pre-cut into fourths, some oil pastels, and a piece of background paper on which to glue the shapes. Pentel is one of my preferred brands because the pastels are soft and easy for students to use with good results.

The first step is to "pinch tear some dots". I would have kids practice this first using scratch paper. You can see a lesson on this by clicking here.


Once students have a few "dots" torn they start coloring areas using either warm or cool colors, using a color wheel as a guide to their thinking and planning.  I like to have them overlap areas of color just a little to see how the colors interact and what new colors appear. Using white to tint some of their colors makes for some nice experimenting, too. You could have students use any color system, not just warm and cool.

I had intended to use just black construction paper, but decided I liked the variety of using lighter colors of paper, too. I also thought about and tested using baby oil and swabs to blend the pastels slightly, but found that that didn't really add value (except, perhaps the lovely clean aroma of the baby oil in a classroom!) to this project. That is one of the advantages of auditioning a lesson first, before using it in the classroom!

The final step is to glue the dots on a background paper (either plain or painted if I want to get a little messier), overlapping edges just slightly.

I am actually thinking about doing this as a collaborative project that will cover a HUGE area, with hundreds of dots!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Art Audition - Footprints in the Sand (or Tea Bag Art)

I think one of the most fun parts of teaching anything (but art in particular) is trying out new ideas with students and seeing the results. For me, these don't have to be original ideas (but it's fun when they are) just new to me or the first time I have tried them with kids. And I ALWAYS want to "audition" them first at home before introducing them to the classroom. It seems that this is the time of year (2 weeks before school starts) when a lot of these ideas start percolating. I thought it would be fun this year to share with you some of these "art auditions!"

Here we go with the first one:
Footprints in the Sand or Tea Bag Art!!

Last January, following joint replacement surgery, I was told to walk EVERY day, and I have been pretty consistent in following through. While walking in my local park, on the sand and gravel pathway, I noticed the variety of footprints imprinted in the path and thought, "Wouldn't kids have fun with this!"

Step one is to create the sand. Great use for all those used teabags after making ice tea!! Coffee would work, too. Pressing lightly on the bag creates a light beige, leaving the bag a few seconds before lifting up results in a darker tone. Good time to talk about value.

Overlapping the tea bag prints is pretty important for an over all sandy look.

I didn't even wait for the background to dry before printing the soles of a few shoes. In the classroom, kids can trade shoes to make a variety of sole designs. I used pastels that I dragged across the sole and then just printed it on the damp background. If you want to get a little messier you could try this with paint!! I didn't think I wanted to try cleaning paint out of all the grooves, though. **Have plenty of water and paper towels for kids to clean their shoes after printing.

For younger students I would probably stop after they had covered their "sand" with footprints. Older kids could use black Sharpies to outline the patterns on the shoes, as in the example below.
In my last post I had this photo of a local mural where a boy is looking towards the beach through his binoculars. 

I think I would probably have kids discuss this mural, which is on a wall that is walking distance from school, as well as Dr. Seuss', Oh the Places You'll Go! , as a part of this lesson.

Sounds like fun, huh??!!
Hope you are all having fun thinking about getting back into the swing of things!!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wall Art 4

As we enter August and teachers around here realize that they have 3 weeks before getting back to their classrooms, I share this magnificent ode to summer on the wall of a building on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica.
This not so little fella is gazing to the west where 6 blocks away is Palisades Park, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. He looks like he is ready to make the hike and walk down the steps to the beach and splash into the waves for one last hurrah !!!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wall Art - Part 3

I have been contemplating the message on this mural for over 10 years. Before art started popping up on walls everywhere, this thoughtful painting appeared overlooking Wilshire Blvd. in West Los Angeles. I still notice it every time I pass by, although the signs around it are crowding in these days!! It often gets me thinking about the difference between reading a book and "reading" a piece of art. What a great conversation to have in the art room!!

It is hard to see the painted scaffolding that the little painter in the lower right is standing on as he paints by the word, "sentence."

You can see him better from this angle.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Wall Art Part 2

In my wanderings out and about I have come across these two murals celebrating Charlie Chaplin. The first is in a courtyard at the Cypress Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California . It overlooks diners having afternoon tea in the patio restaurant.

The second is on the main road through Venice, CA.

I have been thinking it might be fun to discuss these two paintings with students, comparing the similarities and differences. Then I would give a photo of a well known man/woman to the kids and have them create a portrait within a setting of their choice. Afterwards we could have another discussion examining the similarities and differences of their paintings. FUN, HUH??

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wall Art

I have been noticing lately that artists are hitting the walls around where I live. It is fun to see such creativity. I have been doing a lot more walking now that school is out and thought that in the next few weeks I'd share some of the murals I have stumbled upon.

This first is on the wall of a restaurant I was at with my mom recently. It is called Spitfire and is located in their parking lot. It is a cool, casual place with a lot of old airplane memorabilia inside. Fitting, since it is located by our local small airport.
 These next few are on walls of the fabric store where I shop. At first there were just a few near the back door:
 This next one always startles me!!

 Then others started appearing around the other walls of the building. So fun!!
 I will share some more later. Hope everyone is having a happy summer!