Friday, October 21, 2016

getting 3d with ricky.

My first rotation with the 5th graders focused on using line to create an abstract design using overlapping shapes and to use color value to make those elements look more 3d and real. The inspiration for this project was the work of Ricky Watts, a super cool painter based up in the Bay area of California.

To start  the lesson, we looked at several of the murals Ricky has done around the country. Kids noticed that he repeats lines and shapes a lot in his work. They also saw how he used overlapping and color value changes to add a 3d quality to his compositions. They were able to figure out that he was adding white and black to his colors to make them darker or lighter. The kids loved checking out Ricky's work. The vibrant colors, the glow, and the scale really stood out to them.

Since we would be working on paper with color sticks (basically short colored pencils without the wood), I asked the kids how they would create a similar effect in their work. The answer- adjusting hand pressure.

As kids started to brainstorm and sketch, I emphasized that they are attempting to create an image inspired by Ricky's work and not copies or replicas of it. Once they did at least 2 sketches, they were to choose one for their final design and explain their reasoning with a a detailed because statement. They could then move on to white or black paper to draw out their design softly.

Students tried to capture light, medium, and dark color values in their design by adjusting how hard they pressed when coloring.

When their drawing was complete, I encouraged them to go back and take a closer look at it to see if they needed to revise any areas that could be improved. When that step was done, they could move on to the reflection piece of the process and complete their exit slip. Again, trying to add specific reasoning and details in their responses.

This project went over one session (80 minutes) and into the 2nd session for about 20 more. For the 2nd session, I gave them about 15 minutes to reflect/revise, and then I introduced them to a new project.

This project applied the color value skills they practiced in the Ricky Watts drawing to a video gane character design project. We discussed some old school and not so old school video games that use pixelated characters. We also revisited a pixelated print project from 4th grade. The kids noticed that these characters looked flat because of the lack of value contrast.

Their new role was to be a character designer for a video game and to also make parts of the character look more 3d by using light, medium, and dark color values. They sketched a couple ideas, picked one, explained their choice, and then drew it and added color to it on a larger sheet of paper.

The bonus... students that finished early and who had executed them properly, could build their character on a Bloxels board (a peg baord that goes with the Bloxels Builder app) and then take a photo of it with the app and actually drop it into a video game!

This was a BIG hook. I have been piloting game design with a small group of 4ths an a weekly basis and this was a great way to introduce the 5ths to the process as well. It provided an engaging and fun extension of the content of the first lesson too:)

Check this one out! She followed the project rules of just horizontals & verticals and using light and dark. Way to push the envelope!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

nico, skye, and line.

A couple of weeks ago, our 3rds and kinders both set out to explore and experiment with line. The 3rds focused on bold contour lines to define shapes in a composition inspired by the work of Australian artist  Nico. The kinders used different kinds of lines to make a San Diego composition inspired by artist Skye Walker, who lives right here in San Diego.

The 3rds first. I introduced them to Nico's work with a few images. We noticed that he tends to use bold, thick contour lines in a lot of his work. We also noticed that he also uses lines, shapes, and colors to add pattern elements to most parts of his compositions. Finally, we picked up that while his images look somewhat flat, he does, in fact, create some 3d space by overlapping shapes a lot in his images. The openness of his figurative abstract images allows kids to read combinations of geometric and natural shapes differently from each other.

After discussing Nico's work, we set of to make images that were inspired by his work, but did not copy it. We started by doing at least 2 sketches. The types of shapes, arrangement, etc., was open. The only 2 rules were to include at least 10 shapes and to overlap at least 3 times.

When we were done sketching, we picked one to use for our final drawing and created a sentence that explained our reasoning for that choice. "I chose sketch 2 because it is cool" was not an option. We need to give a more detailed reason why the image is cool.

We then drew out the sketch on a larger sheet of paper, keeping in mind that the image could change a bit going from small to big and that we could add more details or elements if we felt like we needed to.

We then traced our pencil lines with a thick sharpie marker, added pattern elements to each shape with colored markers, and finished the drawing by adding fill colors to the shapes with crayola color sticks.

I really like the wide variety of approaches that students took to this activity,

The kinders, meanwhile, looked at a couple of paintings by Skye Walker. We looked at how he used horizontal and vertical lines to split up his paintings into smaller squares and rectangles. We also noticed that he used elements in those shapes that were found right here in San Diego.

We started the hands on activity by adding 2 horizontal and 2 vertical lines to split up our paper. We then drew San Diego elements in each of those sections- water pattern, palm trees, mountains, sun, and cactus. We switched over to markers to add bold color to each part and used color sticks at the end to add light background colors. For this last step, we used the side of a color stick so we could see the difference between using the point of a drawing tool and the side of one.

The kinders have done a great job with their first art rotation and I can't wait to learn more about them as the year goes on!

Friday, September 16, 2016

lots of lines.

The 4th graders have spent the first 2 weeks looking at 2 artists who have a similar vocabulary of line, yet their work looks very different from each other.

During week 1, we looked at the work of Oakland based painter Brendan Monroe and attempted to create landscapes inspired by his work that used line to create pattern and the illusion of 3d space.

 Brendan created this one for the kaboo festival, right here in San Diego.

When looking at a couple of his pieces we talked about the type of landscape or place they remind the kids of, as well as how he is using a pattern based on the bottom edge of a shape to give the side of a form that 3d look.

We practiced a few approaches (wavy canyons, angular canyons, and an oval plateaus) together that were based on techniques the artist used and then the students chose the sketch that they could be most successful with on a larger scale. They wrote an explanation of their choice under their sketch, shared their reasoning with a neighbor, and then got to work on the larger version. After they drew their landscape larger in pencil, students traced their landscape with thick lines in the front, medium in the middle, and thin in the back, to emphasize the 3d space of the image.

There were some very interesting results with this project. It was a bit challenging for some, but we talked about growth mindset and strategies to use if they felt like they were getting frustrated with the project.

This week, we have been looking at some murals done by Daniel Anguilu, who is a Mexican American painter based in Houston, Texas. At the beginning of this lesson we quickly revisited the elements present in our first project. I emphasized that there would be similarities and differences between the 2 artists' works and that the kids should be thinking about those as we worked.

Daniel creates large scale murals that are much more abstract than Brendan's work, yet they are both line and pattern heavy. We discussed how the space that Daniel creates is more decorative and 2d than the work of Brendan. We also revisited the concept of contour lines and how Daniel outlines almost everything in his work, and we don't really see that in Brendan's large scale landscapes.

I shared a brief video from 2014 of Daniel talking about one of the murals he was working on at the time, so the kids could see him in action.

With this project, we started out by sketching 2 different composition concepts that were inspired by Daniel's use of line and pattern. I asked students to break up their frame with at least 9 lines and to include at least 7 patterns. Students then chose their most interesting concept, discussed their reasoning with a neighbor, wrote a reasoning sentence about their choice, and then got to drawing their final design.

As they worked on their larger drawing, I encouraged them to add more patterns and details if the large spaces looked like they needed it. When tracing their pencil lines, we talked about making both thick and thin lines to create more variety in their contour lines and patterns. When it came to coloring their designs, how they did it was up to them. I did talk about and model modifying hand pressure to create light and dark version of the same color.

When students finished their drawings, they reflected on the project in writing by identifying how the 2 projects were similar, how they were different, and which one they had more success with. 

There was a great amount of visual variety with this project across the 4th grade classes. A load of interesting, engaging results that addressed the project emphasis of brainstorming and using line to create different visual constructs.