Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Since the 4th graders worked collaboratively to create digital luchadors that showed symmetry and movement last week, I thought it would be interesting for them to continue, but with a partner process that was a lot different than those, yet shared certain commonalities.

We started by reviewing our process from last week and then I shared a video of Heather Hansen at work. She uses her whole body to create gorgeous large scale drawings that show symmetry. While viewing it, we looked at how her hands/arms create the same types of marks on both sides of her body as she works. We looked at the physical nature of her work and how it was both a physical and visual dance on her drawing support.

We then looked at part of a short video about students at the Shekou International School in China, who have created works inspired by Heather's process. (their amazing teacher, Miss Morgan is on instagram- @morganstudentart) I wanted my kids to see how other kids their age of worked within Heather's framework and I wanted them to hear Heather speak about her work.

Finally, I shared a video of my son and I doing what they would be doing in class. Breaking down the work one more time, so they could see it done by one of their peers and a teacher.

I emphasized that this process is an experiment with symmetry and centering their body and mind. The communication between partners should be as nonverbal as possible. (This was a big shift from their previous collab process, where I encouraged them to talk and discuss through the making of their luchadors as they navigated a couple apps for the first time.) This was an experiment in close looking (reading) and responding or mirroring the actions of your partner. Partners would take turns leading each other- if they noticed their partner was confused with a movement, they could repeat it in the drawing to reinforce it. On the opposite side, if they were the one not understanding, they should take the time to think and visualize their partner's movement. They do not need to feel rushed.

When all the teams got in place, were kneeling across from each other, and the music came on, they could begin. As they drew, I emphasized drawing with both hands at the same time. (I think that was the most common deviation from the activity and it is totally understandable. How many times do we encourage kids or adults for that matter, to use both limbs simultaneously?) After about 5 minutes, I gave the groups a second color, followed by a 3rd after another 5 minutes. The final drawing step was to use a finger from each hand and make marks by smearing chalk that had already been applied.

When the drawings are done, we wash up, and come back together to reflect on the processes of the past 2 projects. They answer 4 questions for me, and then we take a few minutes to share out.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

moving in Manila.

As part of their movement unit, the 1st graders are getting a chance to experience stop motion and green screen film making this week.

I'm introducing them to contemporary Filipino artist Robert Alejandro with this project. We are looking at a short interview he did last year to start things off. He talks about the role of art in his childhood.

We then look at a few illustrations he has done of Filipino jeepneys. We notice the patterning of shape, line, and color on these and we contrast them with the buses we see around San Diego.
Our role for the day is that of a jeepney designer. We draw and decorate our own jeepney that will then be part of a traffic jam in Manila.

We watch a jeepney how-to in chunks, so that our jeepneys get drawn, patterned, traced, colored, and cut. After that I work with small groups of kids to move their vehicles across our table top green screen, being careful not to crash into each other in the process;)

As a few kids are working with me, others can go to centers and build with a variety of supplies. The filming takes about 10 minutes. Then we regroup, look at the movie with green background, add our city sounds, and then combine the movie with a photograph of a street in Manila as the background.

The kids have gotten a big kick out of seeing their drawings come alive!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

luchadors looking around!

This week the 4th graders are experimenting with facial proportion and symmetry. To make this a bit more engaging, we are looking at the art of luchadors and superheros and trying out a couple apps on our ipads.

To start off, we talk about proportion and how I would look pretty unusual if one of my ears suddenly grew 5 times larger than the other one. We look at how the parts of the human face fit into the whole in regular and symmetrical ways. We practice drawing a face on a small sheet to get a feel for eye size and location, nose and mouth placement and width.

Then the fun begins...

I share a few examples of luchador masks and art inspired by them and talk about how these characters are similar to superheros in that their masks keep the person's identity a secret. We notice that in these examples, the facial elements we just practiced are present.

When I explain that the kids will be using ipads to create there is quite a bit of excitement. This activity is a collaborative experience because I want them to be able to teach each other as they go.

Once each team has an ipad, I share my video tutorial with them in chunks. We are using th Autodesk Sketchbook app to create a 3 layer drawing. We build the basic mask first, followed by a detail/pattern layer, and wrap it up with the eye, nose, and mouth details for the 3rd layer. With the video, I can rewind it and repeat to emphasize steps and I can assist some while others are watching the video. When their drawing is complete and saved to their camera roll, we open up the MotionPortrait app and add the drawing from their camera roll. We can then play with mouth and eyes locations in the app. This allows our characters to blink, talk, and move around.

sketchbook tutorial

motionportrait tutorial

When done, they save them to the camera roll and I then download to my mac, so I can email to their teachers later this week.

This foray into digital art and animation has been a whole lot of fun for the kids and I alike.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

little movements.

Well, this week I went all in on stop motion shorts with my 5th graders. It's something I have wanted to do since seeing the amazing works that Tricia Fuglestad and Nic Hahn have done with their students the past few years. I've been trying it out with various grade levels in small doses over the past couple months. Some kinders, 2nds, and 3rds have had the opportunity to work with the process, but this is the first time full classes of a whole grade level have done it. It's been hectic, I'm learning the management of it as we go, and it has been... AWESOME!

I can't wait to share their work with our school community. I think I will set them up on a smart board in a classroom near our auditorium for our end of the year Celebration of Art to have a mini short film festival that evening. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but I can't help it!

This is how we have been doing it- I introduce the concept of movement in art by talking about using both body/object position and repetition of said body/object. I then share a few examples of things that convey motion. I'm using outer space as a unifying theme for the project/process.

After we look at these examples, including the Thomas Anders Watkins space jump image above, I tell the kids we will be creating a stop motion short that uses both hand drawn elements and the stop motion app I have downloaded on the ipads in my class.

Things have gotten a little noisy with excited energy at this point.

I also mention that this will be a collaborative project. They will be working as a team with the person sitting next to them. There is more excitement and so anxiety mixed in with it at this point. 

I share a stop motion that I made based on the space jump design with them so they get a better sense of what theirs might look like. 
Before letting them at it, I review the process (following the breakdown above) and talk about how before they draw anything, they need to have a collaborative conversation with their partner. They need to develop a plan before doing anything else. I remind them that they need to do their best to keep the noise level at 2- partner talk, so everyone can focus. I give them about 15 minutes to work and then share a video tutorial I did, so they can see how the stop motion app and process will work.

When I share the tutorial, most kids are about halfway done, but some are almost ready to roll. The tutorial covers the stop motion app basics, opening, taking photos, making very small movements in between shots (SO important), taking a minimum of 20 photos, recording sound, titling, and saving to the ipad camera roll so I can upload them to my computer.

Sharing my tutorial. "Mr. Masse, that guy sounds a lot like you."

the tutorial.

I have 3 stop motion stations set up around the room for them to use. Each station has it's own, um, personality:)

If students are ready to shoot and do not want to wait for a station to become available, they may use the edge of a table to shoot down onto the floor.

When the teams finish taking pictures, deleting any frames that have issues, they go outside to record their soundtrack/voice over. A number of teams haven't been able to finish in the scheduled 80 minute session, but so many of them have stayed during recess, lunch, or after school in order to wrap it up. The enthusiasm is genuine.

So, when all is said and done, their will be over 90 stop motion shorts done by the end of the day tomorrow! Whew! 

Here are some of the out of this world shorts being made by our Zamo  kids this week.

And now onto clay week! (That won't be busy at all;)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

city of dreams... and solid figures!

This week the 2nd graders are experimenting with texture as a way to create and transfer images. We are looking at the wonderfully vibrant work of Lisa Congdon. I have shared Lisa's work with students in the past. It is always a treat to introduce students to her refreshing take on the visual world.

For this project, we are looking at a spread in one of her sketchbooks that she titled "City of Dreams". This drawing works so well with the 2nd grade math curriculum because at this point they are learning about solid figures. When introducing this drawing, I ask the kids what solid figures make up the buildings- rectangular & triangular prisms. We also steer towards what makes these buildings look 3d- Lisa uses light and dark and she shows 2 faces of the buildings.

Lisa Congdon's "City of Dreams"

 We are scratching into styrofoam as we draw the elements of our cities. This changes the texture of the styrofoam and is what makes the lines show up in the final print. We build a couple buildings together and then the students need to add at least 3 more. When the shapes are all in, we then add patterns to the faces- trying to use more lines on one side, so the buildings will appear to have light and dark faces.

When coloring the solid figures, we are trying to use one color per building, to make the light and dark line effect more apparent.

When the kids finish printing, they are to reflect on the concepts and process with a written reflection. Vocabulary is posted in the room and they make talk to a neighbor if they are unsure how to answer a question.