Sunday, May 18, 2014

4th Grade "Stained Glass Windows"

Artwork by Jackie W.

Fourth graders recently created some beautiful "stained glass window" paintings.  At the outset of this lesson, students learn how intricate stained glass windows were used to decorate the Gothic cathedrals of Europe during the Middle Ages (and how they were used as religious "picture books" for the average illiterate churchgoers of the time).  They also see some of the famous stained glass artwork of Louis Comfort Tiffany.   

Students first draw a simple design -- I encouraged flowers but gave them some latitude -- and then break it up into angular pieces like it's made from pieces of glass.  Then, using black glue (acrylic pain mixed with white glue) as the window "lead," they trace these drawings.  Though it's challenging to trace with the glue, students love working with this medium.   In order to better mimic the actual color qualities of real stained glass, students were asked to try to use different values or shades of the same color while painting.   I'm always happy with how much these paintings have the feel of a real window.

Artwork by Erin S.

Artwork by Katie P.

Artwork by Ryan R. ("We don't need no stinking flowers!")

5th Grade Ceramic Heart Boxes

A sampling of heart boxes from Mr. Zatt's class

Fifth graders created these ceramic heart boxes as (late) Mother's Day gifts.  Having worked in other ceramic construction methods in lower grades, this was the students' first experience with slab construction. Using templates for the bottoms and sides of their boxes, the fifth graders cut out and carefully assembled these pieces during the first day of this lesson.  On a second day, they used their boxes as a template to make a heart-shaped lid and attached a handle to the top and some "ribs" to the underside to keep the lid from sliding.  After the boxes and lids were bisque-fired, they used underglazes to decorate.  I then dipped each piece in a transparent overglaze and fired the pieces again.  Some students did a particularly good job of getting their lids to fit just right -- a big challenge given the shrinkage and flexibility of the medium. Now I just need to start this project a little earlier in the fourth nine weeks next year to get them finished in time for the actual holiday!  

Colorful heart boxes and lids fresh from the kiln

2nd Grade Picasso Portraits

Artwork by Maggie S.

As a follow up to their last lesson creating a version of Picasso's Flowers of Peace for Mother's Day, the second graders took a closer look at the artist's Cubist style and used an easy game to guide the construction of these Picasso-inspired portraits.  Students role dice to see which head shape, eyes, nose, mouth, and ears they will choose from a game sheet for their portrait.  I encourage them to vary the location and size of their facial features, ala Picasso.  Then they add some abstract color with tempura block paints.  Given how quickly these portraits are created -- in less than half an hour -- I think the students do a fantastic job of capturing a little bit of Picasso's Cubist portrait style. 

Artwork by Maya C.

Artwork by Samiya B.

Artwork by Talan P.

Kindergarten "Sole" Pendants

It's now safe to reveal that our kinders spent their past two art sessions making these pendants for their moms, grandmothers, or other special people for Mother's Day.  (I apologize for the lateness of these gifts -- I wasn't aware I'd be missing the kinder classes one week while they practiced for their recent end-of-the-year performance.)  These are a great way to discover the patterns and textures to be found in the most unlikely place: the soles of the students' shoes.  Using either their own or another child's shoe that they seek out in the classroom, the students press balls of air-dry clay (abut the size of a large marble) onto an area of interesting texture of their choosing.  Mr. O pokes the holes in each pendant, and the following week the students paint the pendants with metallic acrylic paints using small brushes.  I'm going to be very disappointed in our dolphin moms if I don't see these hanging from many a neck this week!