Tuesday, September 25, 2012

little kids and big squids.

This week I met with our youngest students for the first time this year. I must say that they are a delightful bunch:)

First, I went over my art room rules and expectations with them and then I read them a book.

The book was I'm the Best Artist in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry. We talked about how Kevin is both the author and illustrator of the book. We then figured out what an author and illustrator does in a book.

As I read the book to them, I used my digital presenter to show them the pages. On a number of pages I showed them parts of pages and froze them on the screen so they could see the page layout and composition in full. 

We noticed how the feelings of the characters were shown with simple mouth lines and we identified happy, sad, thinking, worried, serious, and angry. We also noticed how big the sea creatures were in relation to each other- small, medium, and large. We also talked about what makes a drawing simple and what makes a drawing look more real- the artist uses more detail.

I love reading this to my kids at home, so it was a treat to share it with our kinder students at Zamo. I like being expressive with the reading, so kids got to laugh, and got a little spooked when I would raise my voice for a couple of the angry characters' voices.

We then drew our own squids in an underwater setting.  We drew the squids in pencil first. Students tried to make the eyes about the size of oreo cookies. Students added a mouth that showed how their squid was feeling. They could add eyelashes and moustaches if they wanted.

I talked to them about repeating lines, colors, or shapes to make patterns very briefly and then students added tentacles that were made of line patterns. Everything got traced in marker to make the squid stand out.

Then kids added color to the squid. They could make a pattern or color it solid. Students added details and other sea creatures around the main character to make their underwater drawings look more complete. I drew a bunch of stuff on my example and they could copy those elements or do their own thing.

I really like the way these turned out. There is so much individuality present in the different drawings. It's interesting to see the different levels of fine motor control among the classes. The shakiness of the lines, irregularity of the patterning, and asymmetrical features give the different squids a real sense of life.

Great job on your first project kinder kids!

Monday, September 24, 2012

oh, pigeon

I just started working with our kinders today. I read a book to them and we did a drawing based on the main character.

Before I write about that lesson though, I need to share the last lesson I did with last year's littlest boys and girls.

It was simple, but some of the work the kids turned in was hilarious. I love Mo Willems. I LOVE his books. They are a reading staple at the Masse-Brown household. In fact, the first book my little guy read all by himself was a Piggie and Elephant book:) I digress though...

I read a couple of the Pigeon books to the kinder classes at the end of the year and students did a drawing of the pigeon and wrote a sentence to go along with it.

We looked at how Mo drew the different parts of the pigeon and identified shapes like circles, rectangles, and triangles. We also looked at how Mo made pigeon's legs in different scenes. The bird was running, sitting, walking, or standing throughout the books.

We drew out our birds together, added a speech bubble, and wrote the beginning of our sentence together (Don't let the pigeon...). I called on kids before we completed the sentence to verbally finish the sentence, so they could model for each other. Students then wrote what they didn't want the pigeon doing in their picture.

Students then could add details that gave the viewer a visual of what the pigeon wasn't supposed to do, and we added a ground line as well.

Students then traced the outlines and colored the image. 

Pretty straightforward, but it was a fun way to wrap up the year with them:)

Hey Mo- thanks for inspiring young (and older) readers and artists with your work!

Friday, September 21, 2012

and repeat...

Last week the 1st graders used line patterns to create landscapes that had a sense of depth due to size and color changes. This week they used line patterns again, but created something that had a much more decorative sense of space.

We looked at the work of Maine folk artist Karla Gerard. She has a lot of work on her blog and on flickr. I really enjoy her abstract pieces. I like how there is variety in the patterns and shapes she uses. I say this a lot, but I love the human element in work where you can see the hand of the artist or the imperfections in repeated elements.

The piece of Karla's we focused on was an abstraction that used squares and rectangles. When we looked at the painting, I had the kids identify the shapes and types of lines they saw. This was a great introduction to different types of line- vertical and horizontal, long and short, thick and thin.

After we looked at Karla's work I showed the students a sample of what ours would look like and at this point I also introduced diagonal and curved lines in patterns.

Each student got a 12 x 12 square I have 3 large tables and each table got a different color square. Each student got 5 rectangles of another color, along with one more wild card rectangle that was different than the others.

Students then laid out their stripe patterns. Once that was done we glued them down. Students flipped their projects over and held them up when they finished gluing to make sure things were glued down well. 

We then sectioned off the rectangles into smaller sections. The line patterns came next. Students could use any colors they wanted. I modeled a line pattern and then asked students to do the same type of pattern on 2 of their rectangle sections. We repeated this until our rectangles were filled with patterns. 

The biggest challenge was getting students to make thick lines. They had skinny down, but I had to go around and work with a lot of kids on their thick lines. 

When the students finished their squares we put them together on the floor to make a large group work that was reminiscent of Karla's painting.

I'll be holding onto a couple squares from each class, so I can put together a version of the project for our art show later in the year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

leggo my lego.

Last week the 4th graders created a design using patterns and different types of lines to make certain parts stand out. This week I wanted to see them apply these elements to something that looked more real.

Enter my kids' legos:)

I began class by reviewing how the students used diagonal lines last week to make shapes look like rooftops of buildings. We then created a 2 practice drawings. One making a box look 3d from the front and the other from a corner edge. I emphasized the importance of the diagonal lines in these 2 drawings. If you don't use any the shape will NOT look real. I also stressed the importance of the diagonals being consistent with each other.

I then talked about what a still life is. Showed the kids a few examples, and then told them we would use diagonals and line patterns to observe a still life and draw it.

I used my presenter to show them a lego block. I moved the camera so they could see it from an angle up on my dry erase board. I then traced the shape, soliciting the steps from the students as I drew. Once the shape was complete, I removed the lego so they could see the drawing by itself. The kids thought that was pretty cool. Again, I reminded them that it was the use of diagonals that made the drawing look so real.

I then put the block back on the presenter and added a couple more shapes to the set up. We drew it together. We revisited the different geometric solids that made up the shapes- cubes, rectangular prisms, cylinders, etc. Some of the classes even picked up on the obtuse angles present in some of the set ups.

I stressed the importance of drawing the shapes large enough on their paper, so to eliminate too much empty space in their compositions. I also discussed moving the shapes around in their drawings. They could place the shapes differently than they actually saw them. This is more creative for them, and more interesting for me when I look at 150 of them.

This activity challenged the kids, but they all hung in there and did a great job with it. I have seen many students struggle with using diagonals correctly to make things look like they have volume and depth. By tracing the shapes out on the whiteboard as the students followed along worked well. It may seem a little cheaty, but I really wanted them to see how these lines were present in a real life set up.

Once students finished with the shapes, they traced the contours and added line patterns of different value to each of the shapes to make them look even more real.

A special thanks goes out to Logan and Aurora for letting me play with their legos for a few days:)

Monday, September 17, 2012

in print.

A while back I did a collaborative project with the second graders that was inspired by the super fantastic quilts of Eleanor McCain. You can read more about it in the October issue of Arts & Activities. The article starts on page 32:)

Friday, September 14, 2012

wayne's world.

I have always loved Wayne Thiebaud's work. The composition, the repetition, the color palette- it all pulls me in. He has been painting for a LONG time. He'll be 92 in November and he still pulls two shifts in his studio almost everyday. I can only hope that I am that creative and productive if I'm lucky enough to make it here on earth that long!

Wayne is most well known for his paintings of dessert items, but he has also created many wonderful landscapes. Some are urban and some are more rural and agricultural. I shared a few of his rural landscapes with my 1st graders this week and we talked about his choice of subject matter, his use of contour line, and his use of pattern.

In this project my goal was to introduce students to how line could be used to define space and shapes and how it could be used to make pattern. I also touched upon the use of size and color value to create depth in an artwork. 

The drawing was executed in three easy steps- contour lines in pencil, trace the lines with marker and add patterns to our fields, and add color to the landscape with crayon. Easy peasy:)


Great job kids!