Sunday, September 26, 2010

If I could make a castle...

For the 2nd graders 3rd lesson this year I wanted them to continue focusing on line, but to explore color and shape differently.

Rob Dunlavey's illustrations of crystal cities were perfect for this new direction. Rob is an illustrator living outside Boston and he is quite prolific. He has done work for children's books, educational texts,  newspapers and magazines. A lot of his work has a strong geometric style, although he has been producing some wonderful drawings of animals and landscapes that are much more naturalistic.

His series of crystal castle drawings offered students a chance to explore line to make geometric shapes and patterns and to create a drawing that was much flatter than the previous two that we have done this year. In this project students relied on their imagination to create their own castle drawing while only using geometric shapes.

The kids have loved viewing Rob's work and making their own castles. There has been a lot of variety in the student work, which is always great to see. Different students have excelled at this lesson. Some have really gotten into the pattern making and repetition of it.

While Rob uses many different color combinations in his drawings, the students have been using warm and cool colors only. Using one set for the castles and the other for the background.

I also brought the concept of symmetry to the students' attention. It's a bit early in the year to bring it up, but it is one of their visual arts standards, so I wanted to plant the seed so they can start to recognize it in art and nature.

1. introduce students to Rob's work and the elements of contour line, pattern, geometric shapes, and warm and cool colors
2. make the largest shapes of the castles
3. add smaller areas of geometric shapes and patterns to the castles
4. add background patterns using the opposite of the warm or cool colors used on the castles

I will be using Rob's sculptural castles as inspiration for a project with the 5th graders this year as well. I'm very excited to see what they do after viewing his work. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

one word. plants.

I remember mimicking Ellsworth Kelly's abstractions for a little while as an undergrad at Tyler School of Art. Again, as with so much other art I am attracted to, it was the simplicity and economy of his compositions that I found so engaging. Not the most original works I have done, but a lot can be said from studying and copying from the masters. It wasn't until later that I came across Kelly's plant drawings. These took my appreciation of his work to a whole new level.

I love sharing these drawings with my students.

Since the 2nd graders were working with contour line and natural shapes in their first project, I thought it would be good to revisit these elements while working from direct observation. I brought in some succulents from our garden and a couple other perennials from campus and had students draw at least 3 plants. While looking at Ellsworth's plant drawings I discussed and demonstrated how even though the leaves on a plant all have the same general shape, they will look a lot different from one another due to how they are turned.

After students drew the plants they added an "unEllsworth" color pattern  to the background to make the plants pop out from the background.
The students have done an exceptional job with this project. Interesting compositions and great details from the plants they were observing.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

and we're off!

Good start to the year. Introduced the 2nd graders to line with the illustrations of Anne Smith. She does a lot of work for a variety of clients in the U.S. and in Europe. Her work is funky, and I mean that in a good way.

Not slick and polished. I'm attracted to the hand drawn quality of her work.

Anne has done a series of cup illustrations that I thought would be a good way to have students work with the functions of line.
We discussed how Anne used line in a variety of ways. She uses line to make natural and geometric shapes and to make some shapes look 3d while others appear flat. Some of her lines are outlines and some are implied by having one color meet a different one along an edge.

1. use contour lines to create a cup shape on a small sheet of colored paper
2. draw a few natural shapes on the side of the cup with pencil and then add color to the design
3. add color to the oval at the top oval of the cup and press hard on one side to lightly on the other to make it look like an opening and not a lid
4. cut out the cup shape
5. using crayons, create a background pattern or scene that relates to the shapes drawn on the cup. emphasize the need to make a connection between the two
6. glue cup onto setting