Wednesday, February 29, 2012

got floor space?

Not me!

This is the unfortunate drawback to doing sculpture projects when I do not have adequate storage for them to dry until the class picks them up later in the week.

That said, the kids LOVE to do 3d projects. These are the lessons that most students are engaged in the hands on project and learning. Even the most challenging of students.

Monday, February 27, 2012

the couple that creates together, stays together.

This may not always ring true, but for Evelynn and Jerome Ackerman it sure has.

The Ackerman's created a wide variety of designs out of a wide range of materials for over 50 years. The work they created went hand and hand with the mid century architecture and furnishings being created in California during that time. Jerome focused on clay while Evelynn explored paintings, wall hangings, and mosaics. I came across Evelynn's work when it was featured on the mid-centuria design blog.

One tapestry in particular stood out to me due to her use of shape and color.

I then found another example of this design in a different color scheme.

I used these two tapestries to introduce the 1st graders to analogous color groups, or color families. We did a quick compare and contrast and we realized that the size and placement of the shapes was the same, but the colors were totally different. I then introduced them to the three analogous families that are created when you use the primary colors to make the secondaries.

We executed the drawing with markers and colored pencils, The markers providied bold colors, while the colored pencils could provide both bold and light by changing the amount of pressure you applied while coloring. This ability to press softly for lighter tones is a challenge for some students and it's important to grasp, so they can create value variety, as well as implied depth or volume in their work.

The drawing was directed for the first few steps in order to build the main flower shapes and eyeball, but then we added shapes or line anywhere. For example, I modeled adding 9 short straight lines, then 7 curved lines, and then 5 small circles. Where they placed those shapes was up to them. I emphasized looking at what they had already drawn and responding to it to decide the best places for new parts.

Friday, February 24, 2012

a man called kimmy.

This 4th grade project was inspired by the work of African-American sculptor Kimmy Cantrell and the cool lesson previously done by Mary over at Marymaking.

I loved seeing and hearing the reaction of the students this week when I shared Kimmy's name before showing students a picture of what the artist looks like. Similar to the reaction I got last week when we did a project based on the work of Pearl Fryar.

Kimmy changed careers over 20 years ago to focus his energy on his art. He went to college for business administration and after 12 years working in that field he realized he would be way happier if he went back to making things like he did in high school.

When we looked at a number of his mask sculptures the class and I talked about how they were examples of asymmetry. By changing the sizes and placements of facial shapes, Kimmy throws off the normal proportion and makes work more interesting because of it. We also looked at how he uses pattern  throughout his work.

We looked at a couple of images by Picasso and a few African masks to see what has influenced Kimmy's style over the years.

Before students started on their large mask drawings they were required to do at least two sketches. They turned these in with their finished projects to provide evidence of their planning.

Once the sketches were complete they drew out their design on a larger sheet. It had to be based on one of the sketches or a combination of the two. Students traced their lines in marker, adding thicker lines to provide visual variety and emphasis to certain parts of their designs. They added color with marker and colored pencils. We revisited making shapes look more 3d by going from dark to light with colored pencils, and they were asked to show implied volume with that technique somewhere in their image.

The drawings were then cut out and glued to a piece of black paper to get them to pop a bit.

This project provided an interesting contrast to the Day of the Dead skulls we did earlier in the year, when proportions were more normal and the heads were examples of symmetry.

Great job 4th graders!

Monday, February 20, 2012

oh, peanuts.

I recently found out about Peter Opheim's work. Very cool stuff. His process is interesting. He creates small clay sculptures that very few people get to see, and then he makes large scale realistic paintings of these sculptures. The sculptures are pretty funky. Some resemble kids plush toys while others are more abstract play-doh looking things.

I was originally thinking that the 5th graders could make drawings like Peter does. However, they would not create a sculpture beforehand. Then I remembered the peanuts in my classroom.

Water soluble packing peanuts, to be more precise. I got a shipment of colored styrofoam peanuts at the beginning of the year. The commercial, crafty name for these are Stikits. The students could use these to create small scale sculptures first and then do an observational drawing of them. The stikits are great because it is a medium with very little mess. Just dampen the parts you want to stick together and press them together. The pieces can be cut, torn, or compressed into smaller pieces too.

Peter's work was very well received by the classes on Thursday. It had just enough silly in it, while having enough craft and skill present that the kids were hooked with the look and impressed with the skill.

We talked about how some of his creatures looked abstract, but he painted them in a way that was realistic. We identified his use of light and shadow to make the creatures so believable.

Students could make something that looked like an actual thing, or they could design a sculpture that was more abstract. I gave them about 25 minutes to build and 25 minutes to draw. Our drawings were not large in scale, they were more equivalent in size to the actual sculptures.

The classes had a blast building. There was a lot of variety in the types of things students made. When they drew their sculptures I emphasized that they should look either straight down at them or straight ahead at them, so the perspective of the shapes would not be so troublesome. They used colored pencils to add light and shadows to their drawings.

Well done 5th graders!

Note to teachers- it's kinda hard to have all the kids keep straight faces while you're up there talking about peanuts:)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

this girl rocks!

Our girl all star is Stephany Lopez from room 30! Stephany exhibits great focus and creativity every time she does a lesson with her class. If she finishes a project early and has a chance to free draw afterwards, she applies the lesson's skills into that piece of art as well.

I had a chance to sit down with Stephany today to ask her about her thoughts on art.

Why do you like art?
My brother Christopher (former Zamo student, too) likes to do art and he started to show me how to do things and I liked it.

Is there a media you enjoy most? Why?
Painting because you can make nice bright colors.

Are there any people that inspire you to make art?
My brother Christopher.
Way to go Chris!

Out of the pieces you have done this year, which is your favorite and why?
The whale drawing because it's under the sea and I like lots of sea creatures.

Is there a cartoon or animated movie that when you watch it, you think "wow, that just looks so cool"?
Spongebob. I like the costumes and that it takes place under the sea.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?
An artist.
What kind of artist? There a lots of things an artist can do.
A sculptor because it looks fun. I made a paper sculpture at my house.

Thanks for your time, Stephany! Keep up the great work. I'll make sure to plan a sculpture lesson with 2nd grade so you can try it again soon:)

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.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

he speaks for the trees.

His name is Pearl.

Pearl Fryar.

He has been creating a topiary garden on the grounds of his house in South Carolina for the past 30 years. He has over 300 plants on his property that he continues to shape from morning until night on most days of the week. Some of the pieces are hard edged geometric abstractions while others are looser, more natural looking spirals and curves.

There is a documentary of him and his work called "A Man Named Pearl". You can stream the video on Netflix. He is a pretty extraordinary artist and man. So passionate. So giving. The documentary is a great watch and provides insight into his process, philosophy, and history.

I shared a number of images from his website with my second grade classes this week. We talked about how he makes his work, and the fact that he has to maintain and cultivate it for many years. Trees and bushes do not stop growing. When our Gee's Bend quilts were done, they were done. If we worked on a tree, that would not be the case.

Since we could not create a real topiary in class (although it would be cool to start a couple on campus this year), we created drawings of our own gardens. Before we did this, we looked at a couple photos of Pearl's garden more closely, so we could talk about how 3d space was implied in them.

The students found out that shapes that are closer appear to be lower and shapes that are far away start higher up in the image. They also discovered that shapes appear largest when they are closer to you, and smaller when they move away from you.

They also saw that shapes looked 3d in the photos because of the play between light and shadow.

When hands on portion started, I emphasized that what their plants looked like was up to them. I modeled sizing and positioning, but they were not supposed to copy what my plants looked like.

Once the composition was laid in the next step was to use light and dark to create the illusion of volume in the plant shapes.

The kids really enjoyed seeing what Pearl could do with a living thing. They also really got a kick out of seeing somebody make art with hedge trimmers!

Thanks for the inspiration, Pearl!