Saturday, November 4, 2017

5th Grade Land Art

This is always one of the students' favorite units of the year. They love getting outside to create, and I purposely plan the lesson for the fall when the weather is (mostly) cooperative, and the changing leaves provide more opportunities for the students to incorporate color into their artworks.
As usual, we began the unit by reviewing some ancient examples of land art that was likely created for religious reasons (Great Serpent Mound in Ohio and the Nazca Lines of Peru, for example) long before the medium was used to create art for art's sake (or to raise awareness of environmental problems). Then we reviewed the work of our biggest inspiration, famous land artist Andy Goldsworthy.  Students focused on how Goldsworthy often uses only one material and emphasizes only one or two primary elements or principles of art (for example, line, form, or contrast).  Students were challenged to emulate this method and encouraged to create on a small scale so that their works could be completed in just one class period.  Given the short amount of time and the relatively limited materials afforded by our small Nature Trail area, students responded with very strong artworks! 

1st Grade Matisse-inspired Fish Paintings

First graders have been learning how forms can be created from basic shapes combined with a few strategically placed lines.  They've spent some time practicing making cubes from squares, pyramids from triangles, and so on.  In this lesson, they looked at Henri Matisse's painting, The Goldfish, to see how Matisse created a cylindrical goldfish bowl by combining three ovals and two vertical lines.  By adding color in the form of oil pastels for details and watercolors for their water and background, the first graders created both a form and a painting with real depth to it!

Kindergarten Mixed Media Pumpkins

As our Kindergartners move from some first quarter line and shape lessons, we began learning about color with these seasonally-appropriate, mixed media pumpkins.  During one session, the students mixed primary colors to make their own orange and green paint, and then used it to make paper to use in their collages.  In a second session, they cut out pumpkins, stems, leaves and grass from their colored paper and made eyes, mouths, and teeth with black and white construction paper.  Their results are completely unique and awfully cute! 

4th Grade Digital Treasure Maps

During a unit that began last quarter and ended this quarter, 4th graders were introduced to digital drawing by learning to use Google Draw and creating digital treasure maps.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

2nd Grade Warm and Cool Color Collage

Second graders have been expanding their familiarity and use of warm and cool colors with these collages over the past two sessions in art.  We learn to think of warm colors as "sunset" colors and cool colors as "ocean" colors, and this collage helps to reinforce not only these specific colors but the mnemonic device as well.  Not to mention, the collages are pretty cool, too!

3rd Grade "Exoplanets"

From a science standpoint, the lesson gives us a chance to expand the students' fresh understanding of solar systems to those that are now being discovered far from our own sun.  We discuss the hundreds of new planets orbiting distant stars and currently being discovered by astronomers and how scientists convey what these "exoplanets" might look like with the help of professional artists.

Returning to our own art, we look at the professional planetary renderings and conclude that the artists who drew them made the planets look spherical (gave form to shape) through the use of shadows on one side and highlights on the other (essentially, different color values).  Students then use circle tracers to make four or five planets of different sizes on white cardstock.  Then they use oil pastels to color in their planets with a "crescent moon" shape of shadow on one side.  They then drag this color (with fingers or thumb) across their planets to leave behind increasingly lighter values and then go back and re-emphasize their shadow side. 

After cutting out their planets, the artists play with various compositions on a 9x12 piece of black construction paper.  They are encouraged to consider visual balance.  Of course, the planets must also be arranged so that all their highlight sides and shadow sides face in the same direction.  Finally, with white colored pencils, the students add astronomical features such as distant stars, moons, comets, meteors, and galaxies.  I'm always pleased with how these turn out, and I think the lesson works well both to reinforce a number of important art concepts, with the bonus of being able to explore a science topic a little more deeply.

Kindergarten Drawing: Robots with Shapes

Another example of what I'm teaching the kinders during their enrichment period -- putting the right shapes together to create a realistic subject.  Love these robots!