Thursday, December 8, 2011

charley's snow birds

I shared the work of Charley Harper with my 2nd graders this week. It's always cool to expose kids to his work. He is one of my favorite artists of all time. I love his take on nature and how he often modified it with geometric shapes.

I showed the classes a few images that Charley made and we agreed that his art work was not realistic. Things looked a little different. We identified some of the geometric shapes that he used in his illustrations. Continuing with our focus on shapes, I walked the kids through the concept of symmetry in art and nature. We identified this in a couple of his images and body and hand poses that I modeled for them.

The piece that we focused on for our project was the one below. It's about as "holiday" as I get in my instruction. We also talked about how the wings looked like they were moving because he repeated the wing lines numerous times.
I chose to approach this project as a collage. The hard edges and flat colors of the cut paper mimic Charley's use of shape and color pretty effectively. Before the students started cutting and gluing, we discussed how out approach to this drawing was going to be a lot different than the oil pastel drawings from the week before. I pointed out that working with oil pastels is great for bold, intense colors, but it can be tough to work with because it can get messy quickly. Collage on the other hand, is a pretty clean way of working, but depending on the colors of paper you have on hand, the colors may not be as intense.

Symmetry was reinforced with almost every step. For most parts, the students folded the paper first and then drew half of the necessary shape. When they opened the cut pieces up, I reminded them that the fold became their line of symmetry.

When it came to the leaves, students could choose whether they wanted to show symmetry or not.

Great job 2nd graders! Thanks again Charley for providing timeless inspiration for another project.


  1. Love them! He's one of my faves too - so perfect for teaching symmetry, combining geometric shapes, and abstraction. Really fun for the kids to compare his work with someone like Audubon. Check out my 3rd grade collages:

  2. I like these a lot! A different approach to the variety of Cardinal art projects being done.

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  4. You have a very inspiring way of exploring and sharing your thoughts.spring snow