Saturday, May 7, 2016

2nd Grade Mother's Day Flowers (inspired by Picasso!)

Hard at work on a painting for Mom!

Picasso wasn't just famous for his Cubist paintings -- his drawings using only a few simple lines (and, in some cases, a little color) were also some of his most popular works.  One of the most famous was The Flowers of Peace (1958)

The Flowers of Peace, Pablo Picasso, 1958
After learning a little about Picasso and his work, second graders took inspiration from his flowers and created their own. Since this work is to be a (spoiler alert!) Mother's Day gift, students traced their own hand onto their paper, making sure not to trace the tip of their thumb, as this is supposed to be hidden behind the flowers they are "handing" to their mothers (good reinforcement of overlapping used to show space).  The first graders then used tempura block paints to make the simple flowers and signed their work with a Happy Mother's Day message. I'm always thrilled to see the different twists the students are able to put on an otherwise uniform project like this one.    (Thanks to Mrs. Brown - - for the lesson idea.)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Kindergarten Line Monsters

Using a sheet of 12x18 drawing paper, kindergartners got to practice painting various line types and then staying between those lines with their paintbrushes as they added colors to their work. Throughout this painting process, I told them their sheets would be turned into something fun, but kept that a secret until the last session when I had them add eyes (as few or as many as they wanted), horns, arms, and legs with construction paper to create these "monsters."  This is a simple lesson that reinforces some basic elements of art, combines two media (painting and collage), and provides some great fine motor skills practice with brushes and scissors.  The kinders also learn how to make two identical shapes by folding their paper before drawing and cutting.  Plus they get to make a monster! 


Sunday, April 10, 2016

5th Grade Cacti Still Lifes

Artwork by Shannon

I wanted my 5th graders to create an artwork that combined many different art elements and principles in one work, so I came up with this still life of cacti.  Unlike a true still life which would have included the subject set up in front of them for observation, I chose to let them compose their own cacti, requiring that they think about balancing their cacti in the pot.  The inspiration for their patterns (and the reason we left our pots in high contrast black and white) came from a quick study of the pottery of the Acoma Pueblo people of New Mexico.  Students paid special attention to form by using curved lines on their cacti and around their pots (some also used shading), and the subject of cacti gave them a chance to practice creating implied texture with their cactus spines and in their gravel.  Some students also specifically employed differing color values in their backgrounds.  (Art teachers, note that the cacti and pots were drawn separately and glued onto a previously painted background.)  I think the students did some beautiful work, and in our discussions they really showed a great understanding of the elements and principles they've been learning about for the past several years!

Artwork by Landon

Artwork by Megan

Artwork by Morgan

2nd Grade Mad Scientist Color Mixing

Artwork by Kate

This project gave our 2nd graders more exposure to drawing 3d forms both through the use of curved lines (on the containers and the bubbles) and with highlights (on the bubbles).  It was also another way for them to "experiment" with color mixing: each container is painted with a mixture of two different primary colors in order to create all three secondary colors.  The containers are drawn and painted on a separate sheet then cut out after they're dry.  These are glued to a sheet of black construction paper, and bubbles are added using circle tracers and oil pastels.  Students were really happy with how their bubbles came out!  I only wish I had more pictures, but I was lacking my usual camera, and most that I took with my phone were not good enough to post:(

Artwork by Brandon

4th Grade Lighthouses

Artwork by Simrin

Part of the art curriculum requires fourth graders to take some of the inspiration for their art from our own state.  For this project, we chose to take that inspiration from North Carolina's iconic lighthouses.  (This tied in well with a concurrent unit in science where students were creating their own lighthouses with working lights.)  

We had a great discussion about the importance of the lighthouses, how they've changed since they were built, and about some of the iconic black and white patterns that make some of them so recognizable.  Then students took this latter aspect and added their own twist.  I asked them to come up with a unique black and white pattern for their lighthouse.  They also had to give their paintings a feeling of space by using overlapping and paying attention to the relative size of objects in their paintings. Students are now finishing up this lesson by using a detailed critiquing format I've introduced to write a formal critique of their own work.

Artwork by Faith

Artwork by Kaden

Artwork by Rylan

3rd Grade Implied Texture Exercise

Artwork by Tayla

When it comes to the art element of texture, third graders are ready to move beyond the textures of artworks they can really feel to creating texture on a two-dimensional work that only looks like it can be felt.  In art, this is referred to as implied texture.  I found a simple exercise online that allows students to give each of their five fingers (after tracing a hand) a different implied texture. I show them examples of several textures, but they are free to try their own, too.  We also use very fine point pens to allow the detail required to make these textures successful.

Artwork by Amber

Artwork by Rose

Thursday, March 17, 2016

3rd Grade Andy Warhol Inspired Pop Art Prints

Artwork by Maggie

Students spend the first part of one class period discussing and learning about popular culture and how it is different now than when I was their age -- a loooong time ago.  They then view and discuss some examples of Pop Art, focusing on the work of its most famous artist, Andy Warhol.  Since the medium focus of this unit is printmaking and not drawing, I have them choose and trace a cartoon icon onto a 4" x 4" piece of Styrofoam, rather then have them try to draw and trace their own pop culture product or character.  (They are much less frustrated and much happier with the results of their prints this way!).  In a second session, I have the room set up with different color stations where they ink these printing plates and print with them onto pre-cut squares of brightly colored cardstock. In a third class session, after the prints are dry, the students arrange their prints in a square (ala Warhol) on one sheet of black construction paper, and we end the unit with kid-friendly video about Warhol's life and Pop Art.

Artwork by Tayla

Artwork by Cassidy

Artwork by Anna

Saturday, March 5, 2016

1st Grade Woven Alligators

I think weaving with paper strips is a great way for younger students to learn about this art form before they've acquired the fine motor skills to accomplish it with yarn. In my quest to have our first graders weave something other than a placemat, I found several versions of this lesson on Pinterest (thank you, Pinterest pioneers!).  Students spend one session weaving the backs of the alligators (I actually don't tell them what animal they are weaving, and it's fun to hear the guesses.)  The second session is spent folding, cutting, and gluing on mouths, tails, legs, and teeth on their gators.  Students love their finished gators -- many even give them names before class is even over -- so I don't have the heart to hang on to these for display at school. Everybody just has to take theirs home. Hopefully they survive the trip!

Friday, February 26, 2016

1st Grade Overlapping Landscapes

Artwork by Maddie

Overlapping is usually the first way that young artists learn to explore the art element of space. Simply by overlapping elements, the student's flat, two-dimensional drawings suddenly become three-dimensional because one element is clearly in front of (or behind) another!  Suddenly, there's a foreground and background to their drawings!  This is one of those art concepts that's obvious to adults, but it can feel like an epiphany to children.  Our simple landscapes of overlapping hills, each with a tree that blocks the hill behind, is one way we've been learning about space in first grade this month.  (Note: As this was a new lesson for me, I experimented with letting some classes color with paints and others with colored pencils, thus the differences in media in these examples.)

Artwork by Bishop

Artwork by Oceana

Saturday, February 20, 2016

5th Grade Cityscape Prints on Warm and Cool Backgrounds

Artwork by Colton

We began this printmaking lesson by reviewing the differences between printmaking and other types of 2D media and by watching some examples of printmaking on video.  We also had a great discussion of the commercial advantages of printmaking over these other media.  Before painting their backgrounds (on 9x12 drawing paper), students also reviewed the concept of warm and cool colors, as the top half of the print is meant to represent the sky while the bottom half represents the water in front of their city. 
Students painted two different 9x12 backgrounds in order to have more than one chance to make a good print.  Then, using a 4 by 6 inch piece of Scratch Art foam (essentially thin Styrofoam) and a dulled pencil, the students created a cityscape printing plate complete with buildings of different heights and tops, plus lots of details to give their cityscapes lots of pattern and texture.  After creating the buildings, the students carefully cut away the sky part of the foam printing plate.
Students then rolled black printer's ink onto their printing plates and pressed the plate onto their background's sky side, careful to rub the back of their printing plate completely to transfer a full, sharp print.  Then they folded their paper and rub the back of it to create a "ghost print" on the water side of the paper.  This is meant to be the dimmer, blurrier reflection of the skyline in the water.  Because the paper is twice as long as their printing plate, they repeat the process to make a wider skyline and complete a single print   This lesson rolls a lot of skills and concepts into one project, and the results are beautiful!

Artwork by Desirae

Artwork by Drew

Artwork by Mia

1st Grade Ceramic Owls

First graders learned about real (versus implied) texture in art by constructing these owls out of clay. Each student began with a slab of clay cut to about 3/8" thick.  They cut around a compact disc with a plastic clay knife to make a circle from their slab.  Texture was added to the lower two-thirds of the slab with an unfolded paper clip, giving the impression (in more ways than one) of feathers. The wings were made by folding the slab over on both sides and adding more texture with the paper clip.  Students then used the clay knife to cut a curve from the top of the slab, giving their owl "ears." They then used a discarded marker cap to impress circles for eyes and added pupils with a pencil. Finally, a beak was pressed and smoothed on.  After a firing, students painted their owls with tempura paints.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Positive Negative Hands

Artwork by Sophia

Third graders have been learning about the art concept of positive and negative space and how sometimes the space around and in between an artwork's main subject becomes an important part of the work.  For an example, students created these giant-sized Valentines card by first tracing their hand and painting a colorful design on a 9x12 sheet of drawing paper. In a second session, they cut their hands from the colorful sheet, and I showed them how to fold these and cut a heart from the center of the hands.  The colored sheet was then glued to one side of a 12x18 sheet of black construction paper, with the cut out hand glued on the opposite side in the corresponding position.  Lastly, the students glued the cut out hearts in the center of their black hands.  The result is a work where the positive and negative spaces of the art are equally important to the overall effect.  Pretty cool!

Artwork by Chloe

Artwork by Jada

Artwork by Lucy

Friday, January 22, 2016

5th Grade Winter Birch Trees

Artwork by Emery

Fifth graders focused on the art principle of contrast with this lesson.  We studied some of the works of famed American photographer Ansel Adams with an eye toward how he manipulated the contrast in his photographs to emphasize certain aspects of his subjects. 

Ansel Adams, Aspens at Grand Canyon, 1947

Using a 9"x 12" piece of drawing paper, students used masking tape to compose what would become their birch trees.  They were urged to think about asymmetrical balance (for example, several smaller trunks on one side balanced by a large trunk on the other).  Students then painted the areas between their trunks with dark blue watercolor paint, and I sprinkled salt into the wet areas of their paint to give a frosty or snowy texture to their skies.  On a second day, students carefully removed their masking tape and painted light blue shadows across the snow and along the trunks of their trees.  After these shadows dried, bark details were added using black tempura and very small brushes.  I think the lesson does a great job of introducing the students to an important artist while focusing them very specifically on one art principle -- and the results are really nice, too!   

Artwork by Isabel

Artwork by Madison

Artwork by Shannon

4th Grade Face Rattles

They're out of the kiln and headed for home -- except for a few I'm keeping for the spring art show. Great job, 4th graders!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

4th Grade Face Rattles

Art pottery is one of North Carolina's most important and enduring cultural traditions. We spend some time looking at and discussing the origins of this tradition, focusing in on historical and contemporary face jugs (or "ugly jugs" as they are sometimes called).  These came to our state by way of the traditions and art of Africans enslaved in the Carolinas.  In this unit, we adapt the idea of these ugly jugs to a hollow, spherical rattle.

Our rattles are made by creating two pinch pots of identical size and filling one with several pea-sized balls of clay wrapped in paper towel to keep these "rattlers" from sticking to the side of the wet clay.  (The paper towel burns away during the firing process.)  The two halves are then connected to make the sphere, and the seam between the two is smoothed away.  A small hole is drilled into the hollow center to allow heated air to escape during firing and avoid cracking the piece.   Over the course of two more sessions, students learn about the "scratch and attach" method of connecting decorations or other features to ceramics, and they create their face rattle characters.

The rattles pictured above spent the break drying before being fired this week.  Students will no get a chance to paint their details with underglazes before a final firing.