Sunday, December 26, 2010

if I built a car...

One of my favorite children's authors and illustrators is Chris Van Dusen. His illustrations are packed with a lot of wonderful detail and his writing is quite sharp and entertaining. I highly recommend his books. They are a treat, even if you aren't a kid!

A couple years back I read his book, If I Built a Car, to my 3rd grade classes. After sharing the book and the illustrations with my digital presenter, I modeled using diagonal lines to make flat shapes into 3d shapes. We also went over pressing softly with their drawing tools to make the tops of things lighter because the sun was hitting those areas more than the sides.

Before starting on their big drawings, students did some guided practice with me and then some independent planning on various cars or ideas they had in mind.

The kids had a ball with this one. They really put on their inventor hats and came up with some pretty cool vehicles. I also had them add a window or two in the corners to show the car from the front, or to show some interior detail we couldn't see in the bigger drawing.

I need to revisit his work with my classes again.
I found a couple writing prompts for grades k-2 and 3-5 here. Could be a good pre or post activity when doing this project in the future.

making things brighter.

Zamorano has a visually rich campus. Murals and sculptures abound on different walls and common areas. In my 9 years with the school, the art team has kept this dedication to beautifying the campus going strong.

With a couple of the projects, we have been able to work with every student on campus and had each of them contribute something permanent to the school that they can take pride in presently and hopefully in the future as well. Others have been special projects with our "graduating" 5th graders, that the younger kids look forward to participating in when they reach 5th grade.

I think everyone involved enjoys working on these projects because of how it enhances the school site and the fact that it gets us out of the classroom and in the sun that is in abundance here in San Diego.

The first one that we did was a mosaic that is approximately 15 feet long. We chose to do a mosaic to emphasize our clay program and to get as many students involved as possible. Students cut slabs into tiles, glazed the individual tiles, and mounted them to the wall. I came up with the design. Pretty simple and straightforward, but an effective showing of growth and cause and effect in art. Ms. Danielle, Ms. Kathi, and Mr. Eddie were key contributers in completing this mosaic.

The next one we did was even longer. Close to 35 feet in length. The design was more freeform. We used it as a fundraiser to support our art program. Families could select an underwater creature to purchase and their student would then glaze the creature tile and mount it to the wall. The art team wrote each of the students' names on the tiles they did. This project took us nearly 2 years to complete. Ms. Danielle, Mr. Eddie, and myself were all doing more college coursework at the time, so our hours were more limited at the school site. Ms. Kathi and Ms. Danielle did the brunt of the organizing of and working with kids that were glazing animals. When this was completed, the art team agreed to take a break from the mosaic process for a bit:)

The next project we did was a painted mural. It was completed with only the assistance of 5th graders and other teachers. I came up with the concept and mapped it out on the wall and the students did most of the painting. Compared to the mosaic process, this was completed in the blink of an eye. From drawing it out on the wall to the final brush stroke, it took us a week and a day. The mural serves as a bright, colorful welcome to our school as it faces the street and our main parking lot.

Last year the 5th graders did relief sculptures based on the work of Louise Nevelson. That sculpture was installed with the help of 5th graders this year. Those same 5th grade classes will be doing a painted mural at the end of this year as well. I think we are all looking forward to doing another one.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

let them eat, er, draw cake.

Jeez. How many of my projects are of food items???

These two are 2nd grade lessons, but they could easily be adapted to multiple grade levels. The main focus for each of them, like the Luke Best project, is making things look 3d on a flat piece of paper. The other focus is to make my students as hungry as possible:)

I have always loved Wayne Thiebaud's work. The sweetness of his palette and his subjects. The students looked at a few of his paintings and we talked about his use of geometric shapes and light/dark colors to make his desserts look 3d. I explained that a cake may look like a circle if you look at it straight down, but if you look at it on a table the top looks like an oval. Students combined ovals and straight lines to make cylinders that were then turned into cakes. When the cakes were "decorated", the students pressed softly to make tints and hard to make shadows. They also added black to emphasize the darkness of some shadows and cast shadows.

The work of Surrealist painter Rene Magritte is the inspiration for the other project. I call it, "You Are What You Eat".

We look at some of Rene's paintings and how he made things that were not possible look possible. He does this with a careful eye for shape and color value so that his scenes look real and 3d. 

While looking at a couple more of Rene's paintings, we identify his use of scale, detail, and overlapping to create depth in his work. Students will use these same strategies to create 3d space in their versions of this portrait painting.

Students choose one of their favorite things to eat or drink to replace the head in their portraits.
They learned about complementary colors in a previous lesson, so I thought it would be a  good, unobtrusive tie in to incorporate their usage in the background.

1. intro to Magritte and depth
2. brainstorming food ideas- list writing
3. food item sketches
4. draw body, food item head, and landscape background
5. add complementary colors to background
6. add color to head and body, using tints and shades

better? no, best.

Luke Best.

An illustrator working in London, England. Working in a variety of media to create images that celebrate our real and dream lives. There is a simplicity and a bit of funk that attracts me to his work.

I have used his combination of collage and drawn imagery for a couple years to introduce 2nd grade students to using shape and value to make objects look 3d.

When I introduce students to Luke's work we look at how he uses flat geometric shapes, like ovals and trapezoids, to create 3d looking geometric shapes. We also discuss how Luke uses tints (a little bit) and shades (more often) of colors to add to the 3d quality of his illustrations and animations. We talk about light and shadow, and I demonstrate the observance of light, shadow, and cast shadows on real objects, so students can see why these elements are used in art to make things look more real.

The students have made collages based on Luke's work to practice cutting both geometric and natural shapes. They also use white crayons and pencils to add tints and shades to their collage images. I have introduced them to the still life as subject with this project, but there are many other possibilities for the technique and style of Mr. Best to be applied to work your students could make.

1. intro to Luke's work
2. cut trapezoid and glue down
3. cut pot shape and  glue
4. cut oval and glue
5. cut stem, cut flower shape and glue
6. add tint and shade to shapes to make light, shadow, and cast shadows

Saturday, December 18, 2010

kapp and trade.

This week the 5th graders continued their investigation of implied 3d space.

They were introduced to illustrator and painter Ryan Kapp. His images of urban and suburban Chicago landscapes have a sense of calm and order due to the economy of his value and shape usage.
You can almost hear the leaves rustling under the foot of a jogger or the click clack of the sidewalk breaks as the wheels of a skateboard glide over them.

We looked at Ryan's website and checked out his "4 Seasons" series of Chicago. Students identified 4 ways that he implied 3d space in his work.

We then looked at several of Ryan's suburbanscapes and noticed the continuation of economy in shape and value.
We talked about how the individual parts of his images may look flat but by using them in a logical progression, Ryan is able to create a sense of depth and 3d space. Even though not all of the corners or edges of buildings are physically drawn, they are still implied.

I also showed students a couple of skateboard related images, just to bump up the "cool" factor of the project and Ryan's work. Introducing skating into projects is always a good hook with the kids.

In order to achieve the flat look of layers in the students' work, the project was executed as a collage. This provided students a chance to work on their cutting skills on more detailed types of shapes.

1. intro to Ryan's work, discussion of space, share actual examples of project
2. draw, cut, and glue background layer (from 9x12" sheet)
3. draw, cut, and glue middleground layer (from 7.5x12" sheet)
4. draw, cut, and glue window shapes for middle and background layers
5. draw, cut, and glue foreground shapes (from 6x12" sheet)

I challenged the students to come up with their own landscapes, and to not merely copy the examples they had seen in the introduction to the project. They did not disappoint. The only tough thing was that the classes were a bit more "energetic" than usual since we were doing these the last couple days before winter break. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

symmetry, space, and suns

This week is the first time I have seen my 2nd graders in 8 weeks. I decided on using illustrator Nate Williams as the inspiration for these classes. Nate does work that has a humorous childlike feel about it. He uses a lot of hand drawn type and his characters are built with a lot of simple geometric shapes. He keeps his color palette pretty simple- primary colors or monochrome schemes.

Half of the classes did a collage and the other half did a drawing.
The focus of both was recognizing and creating symmetry in art. Before creating with both groups, we looked at Nate's website and discussed his job, his use of color and symmetry in his work.

The collage groups made a sun lion. They used both bi-lateral and radial symmetry in their work.
It was a lot of cutting, pasting, and drawing for an hour. Really less than an hour with the project intro. I wish I had 10 more minutes with each of those classes. I think reducing the scale of the project would help in the future.

I switched it up half way through my classes because of this rushed feeling with the collage. The drawing is based on an outer space scene Nate did. 

Along with focusing on symmetry, these classes also did some color mixing. They used construction paper crayons to make secondary colors by mixing two primary colors. As they were adding elements to their drawings I emphasized that they should use different sizes to create some 3d space. Big in the front and small in the back.

Even though the whole composition is not symmetrical, most of the individual elements are.