Monday, February 28, 2011

year of the rabbit. the cute, super cuddly bunny.

I found the work of Tracy Walker recently on the Pikaland illustration blog. Very cool stuff. Her use of color and shape creates an interesting play between decorative and plastic space in her work.
She has recently done a couple illustrations of rabbits. I especially enjoyed one that that used size and repetition to create depth in an image full of flat looking shapes.
The kinders have been focusing on natural shapes in the past couple projects, so this was a nice way to wrap up our second 4 weeks together. We discussed the sizes of the bunnies in Tracy's illustration, and how things look bigger when they are close and smaller when they are further away from us. We also talked about how the plants, flowers, and holes in the image are part of a rabbit's habitat.

We drew the image out together, starting at the bottom and working our way up the composition. I modeled a few natural shapes they could add to the background and then they drew some to break up that space. They used construction paper crayons to color in their drawings.

The drawing was one of the most challenging the kinders have done, but they rolled with it pretty well. I always emphasize that the important thing is that they try their best. What I liked was that many students took the time to redraw parts they were not satisfied with. It was good to see them thinking about the quality of their drawn images and attempting to improve them.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

folk? rock?

I have finally done a project based on a painting by the Jolby design team that I wanted to do for a while. It has been a lot of fun for me (and the kids).
I love the simplicity in shape and color palette. If you look closely though, there is great attention to detail on the guitar and broken line pattern that fills the background.

When I introduced the 3rd graders to the work of the Jolby team the students really got a kick out of the whimsical creatures in a lot of them. We discussed what designers do- how they make our surroundings more interesting to be in, and how they make money and a career by doing so.

I had one student ask if this was a good thing- making things that people like me and you want to buy. Like making a career of selling the products of their creativity was taboo. I loved the question.

When we looked at the above painting we discussed the relationship between the positive shapes (the guitar with hands) and the negative shape (the wavy background pattern). I talked about how this relationship is crucial to the success of a visual image. If the positive image is too small, you are left with a lot of empty negative space. If the positive shape is too simple and uninteresting, the negative shape could be as well.

Keeping that in mind, we set off to make our own versions of the painting titled 'Songs by Robin".

1. started with a 12x12 square sheet
2. cut wavy or zigzag patterns out of a 6x12 sheet of a different color
3. before gluing these pieces in place, like the birdie project, students were asked to think about spacing and direction of the strips to make the negative shapes as interesting as possible
4. glue pieces on
5. add broken line patterns to negative shape with construction paper crayons
6. create guitar body- fold 6x6 sheet in half and draw half the guitar shape
7. decide what is top and bottom, think about position on larger square, and glue in place
8. cut and add guitar neck and tuning board
9. fold sheet for hands, draw, cut, place, trim, and glue  (a lot for "one" step:)
10. add stickers by cutting and gluing paper and/or with construction paper crayons

Again, the variety of guitars, decals, and overall compositions was impressive.

After we completed the project, I walked students through a self assessment. We evaluated how well they met the art standard for the lesson. I modeled this for them and they could discuss it with neighbors if they were uncertain where they scored.
We also assessed their craftsmanship and respect of others for the project. They also answered a couple questions relating to successful and unsuccessful elements of their designs.

This was a new exercise for the 3rd graders and I was very encouraged with how well they did with it. After the class left I went through and checked how they assessed themselves and assessed each of them myself on the same sheet. These will get returned to their teachers to give them more support/evidence for the students' art grades.

An extra note of thanks goes out to Josh and Colby of Jolby for graciously donating a couple copies of their new kids' book, the King's 6th Finger, to our school library and my classroom reading center, as well as a few stickers and bookmarks that I will be using as good behavior rewards. I shared these with my 3rd grade classes today and they were the cat's meow!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

paper plates

Last week the kinders did a project that included a body of water, so I thought doing a project with fish or other sea creatures would be a good followup.

I recently discovered the work of Baba Wague Diakite. He is an artist that explores stories in a variety of mediums. Baba  writes and illustrates children's books, makes paintings, makes clay vessels, and plays music.
Many of his images include wild animals. He also explores pattern often in his work. Baba includes the patterning that is present on the creatures and he uses it as a decorative element in backgrounds or borders that tie in with the main characters in his wide variety of images.

After revisiting the project done last week with my classes, we took a look at Baba's website and learned that he was born in the country of Mali in 1961. He and his family now split time between there and Portland, Oregon. We looked at a number of his pieces and identified different animals and patterns in them.

We also talked about the fact that many of his paintings are done on clay bowls, plates, and platters. Students told me what we use those things for and we talked briefly about how those pieces are different than a drawing or painting on paper because the clay pieces can be used as well as looked at.

The last pieces we looked at of Baba's were a couple fish plates he made. We talked about the connection between the last project and this one. Drumroll.... the fish live in the water! Plus, the fish scale pattern we used in this project was identical to the wave pattern we used for the water in the previous project. The students created their own pattern infused paper plates based on the subjects of these plates.

1. I predrew the large circle shape for their paper plates
2. students drew inner circle to define a border in their design
3. students drew a sea creature that included repeated shapes or lines
4. students added a pattern in the border that related to the center image. I had some drawings of things they could use- boats, hooks, waves, bubbles
5. students traced their pencil lines with a black crayon to reinforce the lines even after painting
6. students cut out the plate shape from a square sheet of paper
7. students used watercolors to paint their plates- I emphasized the use of more water to make their colors lighter, so important shape and pattern details would not be lost

There were some interesting combinations of creature and pattern in the 4 classes that did the project. I think in the future I may have them use water soluble markers to paint with because there were too many students that went too dark with their paint and the hard work they put into their designs were lost.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

teachers' turn.

On Wednesday the art department presented our annual workshops for our site classroom teachers. Our goal is to make it fun and educational.  It's a great opportunity to get our teachers more comfortable with incorporating visual art into their grade level curriculum. It also provides them a chance to try something they do not have experience with. Our site teachers are such great sports with this. They are enthusiastic and willing to jump in and try something new.

We met everyone in the auditorium to give them an overview of what the art team has been working on (assessments, resource material and extension activities for art lessons, supplemental art report card), and then broke out into 3 different hands on workshops.

Ms. Vance did tunnel books, Ms. Pothier did clay vessels, and I did an implied motion stencil project.

I used a powerpoint to introduce my group to the variety of ways an artist may create motion in art.

Repetition of shape or line
use of direction line
repetition of shape with a change in value
use of multiple frames
body or object position

We looked at examples of motion from a range of materials and styles
Chris Haughton- A Bit Lost
Matte Stephens
Giacomo Balla
Scott McCloud- Understanding Comics
Bill Watterson
Chuck Jones

After discussing these examples I introduced how one can use a stencil in an artwork to create motion or to add background elements in an image. A stencil makes it easy to repeat an element several times and then you can incorporate the other motion techniques as well.

When applying their stencils, teachers could use oil pastels, tempera paint, or spray paint. I stated that in order to show they were proficient in creating motion the teachers must use at least 2 different methods to do so.

The project was more open than other workshop projects I have done, so there was an interesting range of images at the end of the lesson.

Thanks goes out to all the teachers who participated in these workshops. We are looking forward to seeing these techniques and elements incorporated into upcoming lessons. No pressure;)

Monday, February 14, 2011

what's a jolby?!

Not really a what, but a who...

I have been wanting to do a project based on the work of this Portland based design team for a while. I plan on doing another one based on a guitar painting they did (while listening to much Fleet Foxes... added cool points.).

The 2 founding members of Jolby are Josh Kenyon and Colby Nichols, who met at art school right here in San Diego. Many of their designs have a wonderfully animated style that kids and grownups alike can appreciate that have a great infusion of texture and pattern achieved the repetition of line.

The design I chose as inspiration for this kinder project is the front cover of a cd/album cover for Stacy Clark.
I was attracted to the play of the watercolor up top against the hard edged water patterning at the bottom.
I focus a lot on pattern recognition and creation with my kinders, so this design lended itself nicely to being incorporated into my curriculum.

I showed the classes some of the designs from the Jolby website and we talked about what a designer does, how they use pattern, and a variety of materials to make their work. My classes loved the shoes for DC and they thought the Gibson guitar design was super cool too.

We then looked at the design for Stacy Clark's album and discussed materials and patterns there as well.

We approached this project in 3 steps-
1. paint the upper 2/3 of the paper with watercolor to create a sunset/giant peach/whale head meeting the water's edge
2. draw the water wave pattern on a separate sheet of colored construction paper and add patterning with construction paper crayons
3. cut top edge of waves off and glue in position to watercolor paper

The project went pretty smoothly for a mixed media project with kinders...
The kids enjoyed the painting. we tried to make the sun shape look 3d by starting with mostly paint and a little water and adding more and more water as they crossed the shape.

The cutting portion of the lesson was a good extension of their cutting practice on the Kim MacConnel projects they did the week before.

One kid enjoyed the paint so much he needed to lick the watercolor set. In my 9 years of teaching here this was a first in my class room. It was the black pan. He looked like he was dripping zombie blood...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ode to birdie.

Shortly after coming on full time at Zamorano, I discovered an art blog called dear ada. It provided me so much inspiration because it's author, birdie, posted about so much cool visual work from all over the world.  As I began to focus more on living artists, her blog provided a wealth of visual artists that I could tap into and create projects from for my students. Her lists of favorite sites and other blogs was another springboard into the works of even more artists who were out there making art, writing about it, or both. When I began this blog over the summer, birdie stopped writing her blog to focus on making her own work. Go birdie! She has continued posting about works on tumblr, but in a much more brief format. (I still love to see what she is digging though.)

So, as I was finishing with my kinders today and thinking about how I wasn't sold on my original idea of modifying that lesson for the 3rd graders that were coming in to my class in 20 minutes I decided to check her tumblr posts. Denied! Tumblr comes up as a social networking site at school and it was blocked. I went to her old blog and there, in her last post were images that birdie had done. Perfect. I'd do a project based birdie's work. So fitting. So overdue. A visual thank you to someone that had inspired my instruction for so long.
The first few lessons I did with the 3rd graders focused on using geometric shapes. Birdie's work was a great intro to different types of natural shapes in art. One of the main standards for 3rd graders is creating 3d space through color value, overlapping, and size change. Birdie's work has 2 out of 3, and my students have worked with size change enough to incorporate it on their own. I have only done this with 2 classes so far, but I'm looking forward to doing it with the other 8 3rd grade classes.

One of the things I love about this project is  the variety of natural shapes the students are coming up with. I have a couple plants in the room and drawings on the board, so they can sample from those sources or come up with their own concepts. I plan on changing up color schemes with each of the classes so we can have unity in subject, but some necessary variety when they get displayed at our end of the year Celebration of Art.

Thanks again, birdie.