Tuesday, November 29, 2011

candy bars?

Oil bars?

The second graders were able to get messy again. When I last met with them, we did an oil stick project based on the work of George Anderson. While the project came out cool, the oil sticks were DONE after 10 classes got to use them.

This time they got to use your standard student grade oil pastels to create an image inspired by American ex-pat Gordon Hopkins. Gordon creates abstract images that are heavy on oil bar, natural shapes, intense coloring, and pattern usage. I like the boldness of his palette and the roughness of many of the shapes in his work. These painting/drawings have a great energy to them.

The students and I looked at a couple of works from Gordon's website and identified different things in them- lines, bright colors, plants, and patterns. I asked them what parts of his paintings look closer to us and why they appear that way. I pointed out that even though Gordon's paintings and George's harbor paintings look different, both artists are applying similar ways of creating 3d space. Most of the classes recognized the use of scale and overlapping to create depth in the images we viewed.

This was much more of an independent drawing exercise than their harbor drawings, so there was a wide variety of approaches to it across the different classes. I emphasized that I would model each step, but they could approach each step with something that I had not shown them how to do.

The large plant for came first followed by a line pattern that had to be overlapped by that plant shape. They then added a shape pattern in an open space and another line pattern to fill another space. Depending on ow much empty space they had left, students could break up the design more with line and/or pattern.

They could use any colors they wanted as long as they pressed hard to make the colors intense and that shapes next to one another were not filled with the same color.

Monday, November 28, 2011

mad cutting.

I love collage. LOVE it.

I have had the work of Jared Andrew Schorr bookmarked for over a year. He is an illustrator based in SoCal who creates most of his images by cutting and gluing paper.

It was a treat for me to share some of his work with Ms. Smart's combo k-1 class. As we looked at Andrew's work the class and I discovered that he overlaps shapes to create 3d space in his work. We also noticed that Jared repeated shapes and lines to make patterns throughout many of his illustrations.

The drawing exercise was pretty direct. We drew bumpy line patterns to create bushes and drew the bear shapes together. Students used 3 greens to create the bushes and used green sharpies to add a number of patterns over the crayon.

The kids did a great job with the drawing. I'm planning to do a collage project with either 4th & 5th grade later on in the year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

40 minutes? game on.

Last week Zamorano was on modified schedule all week due to parent conferences. Because of this, Kathi (the art instructor kids rotate to when not meeting with me) and I use a modified schedule so that the afternoon classes do not miss out on any art instruction. When we do this, we meet with our classes for only 40 minutes. This is much shorter than the hour we usually have for k-3 and the hour and ten minutes we have for the 4th and 5th graders.

40 minutes? Oh, we will get a project done! I made sure to emphasize to the kids when they came in that they needed to stay on task and move quickly through the lesson. No time for excessive chit chat. We would not rush to get done, but we needed to be economical with every task we did, to complete the project. By and large, the classes did a fantastic job with this. I do not think a class earned a yellow card all week! All greens, baby!

Anyway, the lesson I choose for the 3rd graders was inspired by Baptiste Lucas. He works as an art director for cartoons over in France. He comes up with the settings and the look of the backgrounds that the characters inhabit. Pretty cool gig.

Baptiste has a wonderful way with shape and color in his landscape settings.

Half of the 3rd grade classes created landscapes the week before with me, so I thought this project would be a good review of creating 3d space in their image. To add a new layer to the concept of making a landscape the students worked with colored pencils instead of oil pastels and the style of their drawings would be different as well.

For the classes that did not make landscapes with me due to the Veteran's Day holiday, this lesson served as a quick introduction to making 3d space with shape and color.

We looked at a couple of backgrounds that Baptiste had posted on his blog and identified the ways he made the foreground, middleground, and background. All the classes did a great job recognizing the overlapping, size change, and color value changes that Baptiste employed in his landscapes. These are elements that I revisit each year with all grade levels, so it is great to see many of the students being able to identify them in an artwork. Its good to see your instruction validated across the different classes and grade levels like this:)

The lesson was done with direct instruction. We worked from the image below to create our 3d space studies. It has a castle in it, so the classes responded pretty excitedly to using it as the inspiration for their drawings.

We drew out our landscape in pencil together. We noted the symmetry present in Baptiste's castle and I asked students to be aware of the symmetry or asymmetry they were creating when designing their own castles.

When it came to adding color with the colored pencils I demonstrated how to hold the tool when pressing hard to make dark colors in the foreground. I showed the students how to hold the pencil more upright so it would not snap. When students moved on to the middle and background they could tilt the pencil more because they would be pressing more lightly. The pencils I have the students use are woodless koh-i-noor ones. I love the intense colors, but they need more care from the students, so they don't break into a bunch of small pieces.

Students could use any colors they liked on the different parts of their landscapes, as long as they applied the correct amount of pressure to make dark, medium, and light color values.

A project done (in most cases) in 40 minutes. Well done boys and girls! The students that didn't finish are welcome to come in at recess and lunch recess when we get back after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

another all star.

Drum roll please...

The girl all star artist of the month of November is Khadija Sheikh. She is a 4th grader who rocks it every time she comes into my art room. Khadija is a great model of on task behavior for the rest of her class. She focuses well on the tasks at hand and always completes her creative projects as a result. Khadija demonstrates a sharp compositional sense in her work and her projects are always executed neatly with great care.

Khadija was kind enough to let me interrupt her busy day with a few questions about art.

Why do you enjoy art making as much as you do?
I just do it for fun. I didn't know I was a good artist.
Khadija, you are not just a good artist, you're a great one!

Is there a media that you enjoy most? Why?
Oil pastels because they are bright and messy.

What inspires you to make art?
Harry Potter because I like the cover artwork.

Out of the pieces you have done, which is your favorite and why?
The oil pastel Day of the Dead skeleton because it looks better and brighter than the other projects I've done.

Are you thinking you will pursue an art related career? What and why?

Well, if not a career in art would would you like to do?
I want to be a teacher like Mrs. Lewis (her amazing classroom teacher) because I think it will be better to teach than learn, but i still like learning.

Thank you Khadija for being a great art student and such a positive role model for other students in your class! Keep up the fantastic work.

This is part of a series of twice monthly posts that features the work and words of one of our many talented student artists at Zamorano Fine Arts Academy. To be selected, students must be models of respect, engagement, and creativity in the art room. A boy and a girl will be showcased each month.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I got this idea for a kinder lesson from Gabriela over on her blog Creativity First. I made a couple adjustments to her lesson, but the inspiration is 2 parts Gabriela and one part David Huyck and his Cloudy Collection.

Gabriela's lesson was very free in terms of how the students apply their stamped elements, but I need more structure! That's where David and one of his limited edition postcard sets came in. This particular postcard was designed by Maura Cluth, so really this project is 2 parts Gabriela, one part David, and one part Maura. Whew.

One of the kindergarten standards is identifying and creating patterns through repetition of shapes, lines, and colors. Maura's postcard served as a visual introduction to pattern and repetition for the kinders. We then created our own patterns on my dry erase board for group practice.

I also talked about "color families" with the kids and how 2 primary colors mixed together will make a new color. Each class used one color family in their stamp project.

The students and I first broke our paper into different windows by using vertical and horizontal lines. Before the kids started stamping I modeled how to hold their stamp and use it properly. Their stamp was a strip of cardboard that was about 1x2". I showed them how to dip it into the tempera paint and press it onto their paper. 

Like Gabriela's students, my kids used one color at a time. They had about 5-7 minutes with each of the 3 colors to stamp before I switched it with the next color. We also experimented with dragging the cardboard across the paper to create a solid shape or two. Students could use the corners of the cardboard to make smaller marks. On the final color students got to use q-tips and/or empty glue caps to add dots and circles to  their stamped pattern images.

This was the first time I have done a tempera paint project with the kinders in a LONG time. For some it was their first time using it, so it interesting to see how they handled it. There were a couple "tasters" and quite a few body painters. I was cool with the body art as long as it was THEIR body.

The kids definitely had fun with this one!

Thanks for the inspiration Gabriela, David, and Maura.

Monday, November 14, 2011

masks. lots of masks.

Zamorano Fine Arts Academy recently hosted its 5th annual fall community art event. This year the focus was on creating masks from different cultures and countries around the world. Approximately 400 students, family members, friends, and staff members participated in this wonderful event. 

Each of the 10 mask making centers was packed throughout the evening with people young and old working together, laughing together, and creating together. The participants got to use a wide range of media and techniques and were exposed to different cultural mask making traditions.

A common thread that ran through many of the mask designs was the use of symmetry. This event was a great, low stress way to reinforce our students' understanding of this important mathematical and spatial concept.

It was great to see so many hard working people take time out of their hectic schedules and share their time and energy with our students and children.

Thanks to everyone who participated and volunteered time and energy to make this such a great night!

The above pics are from the American style superhero mask making activity that took place we did in my room. I will post pics of some of the other great masks soon!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

a little landscaping.

John McCallister is Los Angeles based painter who creates often vibrantly colored paintings within paintings. I especially love the play of the figurative landscapes against the abstract patterning that frame them. They recall the feel of post-impressionist and early modernist works that were made 100 years ago, but they still visually sing in our contemporary world. 

His work provided the 3rd graders a great springboard to identify and create both plastic and decorative space in a drawing. We looked at a number of his paintings and the students pointed out the various ways that McCallister created a sense of depth in these paintings. They shared that he used overlapping, size and value change, and vertical placement to make create this sense of 3d space.

We laid out the basics of our compositions in pencil. Once the landscape and pattern were in place students colored their drawings with oil pastels to get some of the vibrancy that McCallister has in his paintings.

I was really pleased with the work the 3rd graders did on this project. I think it may be my favorite project so far this year.